Choosing the bust size

Isn’t it that busts come in all shapes and sizes? Strangely enough most (even the well known) commercial patterns makers provide sewers with only ONE, standard bust option – ignoring the fact, that most of us has actually a bust size that differs from this standard.

So read some comments below about finding the right pattern size considering the bust (cup) size in MySizePatterns. This is a quite tricky part, therefore the best way to discuss it is to analyze an example.

Imagine a model, whose measurements are presented in the table below.

MeasurementMeasuredIndication of the size based on the smallest difference against the standard
Full bust96cm / 37 ¾ “EU42 /US 12 / UK14
Below bust78cm / 30 ½ “EU38 / US8 / UK10
Waist75cm / 29 ½ “EU38 / US8 / UK10
Hips100cm / 39 ¼EU40 / US10 / UK12

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Apart from the full bust circumference, all her measurements of the upper body fit the size EU 38/US8/UK10. The circumference below bust YELLOW is 76cm (EU size 38 tells 77cm), the waist BLUE is 75cm and the hips WHITE have 100cm, which is EU size 40. So far, so good. You could blindly go for the pattern EU size 38 for a blouse. However, the fullest part of her bust has 96cm, which is far away from the standardized 88cm defined for the EUsize 38. We talk about 2 standard sizes more!

But watch out, taking the size EU42/US12/UK14 (with the standard bust circumference of 96cm/37 ¾ “) would result here in a garment being very loose allover, like a big sack. Not really flattering and leading to fitting adjustment in many places. But the EU size 38 would not work here either. This is a choice between “bad and worse” really and not too encouraging starting point, isn’t it?

How to choose the size?

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Let the low bust measurement be your guide.

So, check the sizing table (extended for bust sizes) and search for the circumference below bust, which is the low bust measurement. This defines our BASIC SIZE of the bodice. In our example this should be still the EU size 38, with 76cm below the bust. The next step is to find the bust size for the given measurement below bust to determine the BUST SIZE . For 96cm it is “S+2”. So the best pattern match for our model would be [38][S+2].

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As just discussed, using the full bust measurement to choose the pattern size is usually misleading if your bust is larger in proportion to other parts of your body. Taking the EU42 / US12 / UK14 size would reasonably fit your full bust line, but it would result in visible fitting issues in shoulders, neckline and underarms.

 Consequently, you would end up with a garment fitting around the bust level, but ONLY around the bust level.

Going back to our sizing example: we can see that key body measurements (apart from the full bust) are a combination of EU38 / US8 / UK10 and EU40 / US10 / UK12. The below bust size (also referred to as the rib cage size) indicates the size EU38 / US8 / UK10. This should be our first hint when looking for the right bust cup size. By checking the sizing table  you will find out that the full bust measurement of 96cm / 37 ¾ “ and the below bust dimension of 78cm / 30 ½ “ define the size 38 bust S+2. This is your starting point. You need to make a trial/muslin bodice to test this size.

On the other hand, we can also see that the silhouette seems to have slightly larger bottom part than the bodice. So it can also be the case that the model is a small waist-ed size EU40 / US10 / UK12 and therefore we should also consider the size 40 bust size S+1. Again, a test garment will tell us the truth.

Even though it seems like a lot of trouble and may takes two or more attempts to determine the best-fitting bust size, it is really worth it. Once you determine the size combination that works best for you silhouette – stick to it! Good news – MySizePatterns sizing is consequent and you will always know which size to take to achieve the desired bust fit. It will save you a lot of time (and fabric!) later on. You will achieve much easier significantly better results than starting with the size that is far from your actual bust measurements and proportions and trying to fix it by trial and error.

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