Bust Adjustments When Buying Patterns

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NSC Question

I could use some tips on bust adjustments when I buy patterns. I wear a 36D bra, but in ready-to-wear dresses I’m a size 8 or 10. Should I make necessary adjustments in the bust area and use waist, hip, etc. measurements for my patterns?

Submitted by Judy

NSC Answer

Most commercial patterns have an average cup size of a B or C, so you will most likely need to make a bust adjustment on a pattern. You can determine how large or small of an adjustment you should make by taking your bust measurement (across the apex of your breasts) and your high bust measurement (just below your armpits). The difference between these numbers tells you how much to adjust the bust area of a pattern.

This video on a full bust adjustment is a great tutorial that explains the measurements and how to make the adjustments.

You might also be interested in this video on making a smaller bust adjustment:

Hope that helps!


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Reply to Laurette
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15 Responses to “Bust Adjustments When Buying Patterns”

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      Hello Laurette,

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      Patterns do not typically give the high bust measurement on the back of the pattern envelope (some do, such as Love Notions and Cashmerette).
      However, for those with busts larger than a B cup (or if you have more than a 2 1/2″ difference between your bust and high bust), it can be beneficial to use your high bust measurement as though it is the bust measurement when determining which pattern size to cut out. This is because the shoulders, neck and back of that pattern size are likely to be closer to your ‘frame size’, and the only alteration that would be required is an FBA. Whereas if you used your full bust measurement to find your pattern size, the bust may fit, but the armscye, shoulder and neck may be too large and require major alterations above the bustline.

      This discussion is very helpful in explaining this: https://sewing.patternreview.com/SewingDiscussions/topic/106242

      Hope this helps!

  1. Delicia Ambrosino

    I enjoyed this tutorial. But I’m a VERY large lady with sisters who are also large and my issues are with RTW bras. What makes it hard for me is my L breast had a piece removed. I never had great luck with RTW bras to begin with but it’s even worse no and many bras use stretch straps etc. I’m looking to learn how to make my own bras and in particular, Bullet Bra’s in my size 54 DDD or G. The way I’d like them is with cotton and overlay some with more feminine fabrics. The cotton is to help keep down the sweat. The Bullet Bra always supported me in the past…lifting without cutting into my shoulders. Most bras for girls my size sag badly sometimes even looking like I’m not wearing a bra at all. Since I cannot afford fitted bras specifically made for me I want to make my own. I realize this is no easy task for someone whose a blend of beginner to moderate experience but I really need this and I want Bullet Bras. I’ve found a place that sell them RTW but I’ve explained about my special need and anyway they don’t make them in my size. Can you point me in the right direction where I may be able to find patterns for Bullet Bras that can be adjusted to fit me if not printed in my size? I really hope you can help. By the way, I bought a Mrs. Depew Bullet Bra pattern but cannot for the life of me figure out how to use it. Thank you.

  2. Laura Shaffer

    I wear a 40 G bra. Can I make a big enough side dart to accommodate me or would a side waist dart help along with the side dart work? Who has patterns for big women?

  3. Margaret Northcutt

    I a am wondering how I get into the videos and instructions. I sent my payment severalmonthsago .Hope you can help. Thank you.

    • Customer Service

      Hi, Margaret. Please contact us at 1-855-208-7187; our Customer Service Team would be happy to assist you!