Resources for your fitting journey

By Danielle Jenné, April 30, 2024


Where to start?

Fitting can be one of the most challenging aspects in sewing at every skill level. Sometimes it’s because the pattern is poorly drafted, but most of the time it’s that you haven’t learned the skills yet. Fit issues are never because of your body. Remind yourself that clothes are meant to fit on your body, and every body deserves clothes that fit. You can achieve great fit with the right skills, mindset, and the secret sauce: lots and lots of practice.

We’ll start with some specific tips and resources for fitting a fuller chest, followed by general resources to set you off on your fitting journey.


 

Bust Fitting

When you have a large sewing cup size (your full bust is more than 3-4” larger than your high bust), fitting can be especially challenging. These tips can help you get started with fitting a fuller bust.

1. Make sure your undergarments fit you properly


Most femme patterns are designed to be worn with a bra at the bust. If you have a large bust but have never been professionally fitted for a bra, this investment can absolutely help you on your fitting journey. Whatever level of support you choose to wear, you’ll want to make sure that you’re taking your measurements with the undergarments you intend to wear with the garment.

2. Use a pattern with a generous fit


This suggestion is a bit of cop out, but can save you headaches in fitting when you just want to wear something you’ve made. Look at loose silhouettes like boxy fit tops, swing dresses, and caftans. Pro tip: a lot of low/zero waste patterns are drafted according to your measurements!
Pattern Ideas:
The Wilder Gown by Friday Pattern Co.
The Parasol Dress by Cris Wood Sews (Wyldwood can print your PDF patterns for you!)

3. Use a pattern with cup sizes


Some pattern companies offer patterns with cup sizes already drafted for you. Note that a sewing cup size is not the same as a bra cup size. Check out this handy reference guide from Curvy Sewing Collective to learn more.

Consult Sew Busty Community’s full bust pattern database for what cup sizes a company drafts for in their standard and extended size ranges. This will help you choose patterns that are a better starting point. If you have a large bust, you’ll want to look for companies that draft for a C/D or DD cup in your size range. Choosing patterns drafted for a B cup will need a larger full bust adjustment than one that’s drafted for a C or D cup (more on that in tip #4).

If this is too overwhelming, these two companies are a great place to start:
- Cashmerette offers cup sizes on most patterns and includes a size calculator on their site. You can also email them for sizing advice, especially if you’re in the overlap between the 0-16 range and the 12-32 range.
- Pattern Scout offers B, C, and D cup sizes on the full size range of many of their patterns.

4. Choose a size based on high bust measurement + FBA


The standard approach to fitting a full bust is to start with the size that fits your high bust measurement. The basic approach is:

1. Find out what cup size your pattern is drafted for, e.g. C-cup
2. Take your high bust measurement, e.g. 40”
3. Add the cup size amount to your high bust measurement, e.g. 3” for the C-cup + high bust of 40” = 43”
4. Choose the size that corresponds to the measurement found in step 3
5. Do a full bust adjustment (FBA) for any remaining full bust measurement

Here are some great tutorials to get you started with an FBA:
- Sew Busty Community’s Beginning Sewing Series 
- Curvy Sewing Collective's: Beginner guide, General FBA resources, and Dart manipulation



5. Grade between sizes


If you don’t want to do a bunch of math and drafting required by a traditional FBA, you can always decide to grade between sizes from the shoulder to the full bust. This approach works well for garments with good amount of ease, but not oversized. Try it out on a practice garment to see if it works for you.

 

6. Check the shoulder and back fit


Sometimes your fit issues at the chest are actually a symptom of shoulder/back fit issues. You might even need a bit more or less length in the upper back area so the shoulders and armholes fit you better.


In more fitted garments you might need to do finer adjustments such as shoulder width or shoulder slope to get the garment hanging from your shoulders correctly, and then cascading down the rest of your body as the designer intended. Check out these general fitting resources for more.

































General fitting resources


Podcasts

 

Love to Sew - Chest Fitting

- We pull a number of links and resources above from this episode’s show notes. This is a great place to start if you want to hear about these fit resources. There’s also a great list of companies that offer cup-sized patterns in these show notes.

 

Love to Sew - Expert Fitting Advice with Alexandra Morgan

- Alexandra Morgan of In-House Patterns has a whole framework for fitting (see her Fitting Essentials course below) that she uses to assess fit in listener-submitted photos and offer fitting advice. This is good if you want to begin training your eye to see fit issues and identify which fit adjustments to make - definitely listen with the show notes page open so you can see what she’s seeing.

Indie Designers

Sometimes offer pattern-specific fitting/hack tutorials. These are a great resource if you feel more comfortable working through fitting tutorials with a specific pattern.
- Helen’s Closet Patterns Blog

- Sew Liberated Blog

Books

 

The Complete Photo Guide To Perfect Fitting - Sarah Veblen

This book is very comprehensive and gives you photos at every step of diagnosing and fixing fit issues in a practice garment or muslin. If you prefer analog options for your sewing space, this is a good place to start. I find that while the term “flattering” is sometimes used in this book, the author uses it in a very subjective way that I think is more chill than most Fashion Design books out there, and the author takes the time to mention that every body is different and everyone has different style preferences.








Ahead of the Curve - Jenny Rushmore of Cashmerette

This book is a very accessible resource for curvy fitting. If you want some of the nuggets of wisdom from the Curvy Sewing Collective blog plus the drafting excellence of Cashmerette Patterns in book form, start here. It includes a few printed patterns you can use to implement and practice the skills. It’s also incredibly inclusive and body-neutral, which I appreciate. While this post is mostly about bodice and chest fitting, this book also has incredibly helpful tutorials on pants fitting for plus size sewists!

 




Courses


Fit and Sew Bodices from Sew Liberated's Learn to Sew series

- This is a beginner-friendly course that uses a specific pattern to walk you through the process of fitting a bodice. It features size-inclusive design, self-paced learning and a community forum full of resources and support.

Fitting Essentials from Alexandra Morgan of In-House Patterns

- This is an incredibly process-oriented course for intermediate to advanced sewists to refine their fitting skills. It’s held virtually once or twice per year over the course of several weeks.









You got this!

Remember: the clothes should fit your body, not the other way around. Practice a lot with muslin fabric or thrifted sheets - whatever gets you trying out the process in a hands-on way. Be kind to yourself as you’re learning this new skill! And seek out resources that work for your brain and current skill level. There are usually a handful of different ways to do a given adjustment, and learning multiple can help you integrate the concepts of fitting. If all else fails, blame the pattern and move on. Happy sewing!