Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Adventures In Choosing The Correct Size Sewing Pattern or Huh?!?Oooohhh!!


I generally sew with patterns from the Big 4 pattern companies. These companies suggest that when choosing the correct size pattern if you are larger than a B cup ( more than a 2 inch difference between your full bust (FB) measurement and your high bust (HB) measurement according to this Cup Size Chart) you should choose your pattern size using your  HB measurement instead of your FB measurement.  This will allow for a better fit in the shoulders which is the most difficult area to alter.  Hmmmm, makes sense. 

So, armed with my understanding of this information and my measurements (HB = 40, FB = 43) I consulted the  size chart for one of the Big 4 pattern companies and chose a size 18 (40 inch FB).   From there I learned how to make a full bust adjustment (FBA) and I went to work... Except after completing my very first FBA  the bust dart was waaaaay too big. Ugh!  Huh?!?  Oh boy!  This can't be right?!?


I'm surfing the net  one day and I come across a Craftsy course entitled "Adjust The Bust". In this class the instructor Kathleen Cheetham makes the same recommendation -- choose your pattern size by your HB measurement if you are larger than a B cup. However, after watching the example Kathleen gave ( several times I might add)  here is what I learned:   
  1. The major pattern companies typically draft for a B cup.
  2. The pattern size charts for these pattern companies list the FB measurement, not the HB measurement which means in order to determine the HB measurement for a particular size, you must subtract 2 inches from the FB measurement.  Ooooooooohhhhhhhhhh!!!!!  

Here is the math--

The size 18 FB measurement of 40 inches minus 2 inches ( remembering the pattern company drafts for a B cup) equals a 38" HB measurement.   This means the pattern size I chose was 2 inches smaller than my actual high bust measurement and  3 inches smaller than my FB measurement.  No wonder the bust dart was huge.  I should have been using the size 20 which has. 42" FB and a 40" HB.

Remember, my HB measurement is 3 inches smaller than my FB  which, again using the Cup Size Chart , means I am a C cup.  This means that my full bust adjustment is more like 3/8 to 1/2 inch based on information I learned in the Craftsy course "Adjust The Bust" .


  1. Cup size as determined by the pattern companies does not necessarily coincide with your actual bra cup size.  So if you determine the amount of FBA needed based on your bra cup size you might be terribly disappointed-- ask me how I know!
  2. It is important to know what cup size a particular pattern company drafts for.  For example, if  you are a C cup and you purchase a pattern from a company that drafts for a C cup, or a 3 inch difference between the FB and the HB measurement you may not need a FBA at all.  So you may want to check with the pattern company before assuming you will need an adjustment. 

For more information on bust alterations I highly recommend the Craftsy course "Adjust The Bust" .


The information in this post is based on my personal experience, research, and opinion. I have not received any compensation .
I AM NOT an expert.  I am sharing what has worked for me in hopes that it may help someone else.  

Until next time... sew something you love!


  1. I have come to this from your link on PR. Helpful. I have previously watched 'adjust the bust' but didn't find it helpful. Before I lost a bit of weight my HB and FB measured the same but my bra cup size was a DD. Despite losing weight, cup size is still a DD but I now have a 2" difference between HB and FB. Having tried out multi cup size patterns, I do feel I need the D cup front - or maybe even larger, don't know yet. It really is so confusing - I think I have to make a few and see which is the best starting point or try with Sure Fit Design.

    1. Anne, I understand your frustration. Keep at it. You will find what works for you. Fitting can involve a lot of trial and error. Just remember that bra cup size is a standard that bra manufacturers use and I have found that it does not correspond with bra cup sizing that pattern companies use. It really can be confusing. Good luck. Each attempt puts you that much closer to your goal of finding what works for your figure. Thank you for taking the time to comment.


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