The Sewing Pattern Tutorials 12: Sewing patterns for different bust cups



Hi, it’s Rachel here on the blog today with the next instalment of our popular Pattern Tutorial series. When we shared a recent Pattern Tutorials blog post on sewing patterns and body shape, one of the topics that came up was about different cup sizes. For anyone with a different cup size to B/C, which is what most patterns typically draft for, will have needed to do a small (SBA) or full bust adjustment (FBA). This can be quite time-consuming and tricky depending on the pattern design. It’s also overwhelming when you are new to sewing. Over the last year we’ve seen an increase in the number of designers choosing to include different cup sizes with their designs. Not only will this save you time but you can also have the confidence that it’s been drafted professional for your body shape.

This blog post was inspired by makers in our Facebook group who were chatting about pattern designers and the types of bodies they draft for. We all thought it would be helpful to bring this information together in a handy post so that you can discover which designers might suit you.

Note: we will be updating this page soon to reflect changes in the pattern ranges offered by independent designers (this post was last updated April 2020).

What bust cup size am i?

What cup size am i?

Most patterns are drafted to be suitable for a B or C cup. Check out our Choosing a sewing pattern fro your body shape blog post, which has a list of cup sizes that different designers draft for. You can also download free size chart templates to record your measurements. In sewing patterns, cup size is the difference between your full bust and upper/high bust measurement (note: this is not the same as bra size).

Bust – this is the measurement around your body across the fullest part of your bust, often your nipples. Make sure you keep the measuring tape straight as you record the number so that it doesn’t dip at the back. Check this in a full length mirror.

Upper bust – this is the measurement around your body that is taken above your bust. Keep the measuring tape straight and measure just under your armpits. If you have a larger or smaller bust than the typical B/C cup, this will be useful to know for doing full or small bust adjustments to bodices.

To calculate your pattern cup size, follow the method above to measure your upper bust. Next subtract your upper/high bust from your full bust measurement and use the list below to work out your pattern cup size.

Pattern cup size = full bust – upper/high bust

1″ = A cup

2″ = B cup

3″ = C cup

4″ = D cup

5″ = DD cup

6″ = DDD cup

For example, my bust size is 38” and my upper bust is 34” so I would be a D cup. This makes sense with my experience of having to typically add 1-2” to the bust of patterns as part of a FBA, which are usually drafted for a B/C cup.

Pattern designers with different bust cup options


We are spoilt by options from Cashmerette, who have 17 sewing patterns with three bust cup size options (C/D, E/F and G/H). With everything from dresses and tops to coats and swimwear, including the newly released Holyoke Maxi dress that would be a lovely summer addition to your handmade wardrobe.

In the shop: Yes, paper.

Sizing: 12 – 28, approx. UK 14 – 30.

Bust cup options: C/D, E/F and G/H

Soak up the sun in the Holyoke Maxi Dress and Skirt! View A is a sophisticated maxi dress featuring wide, bra-friendly straps and an angled neckline, while View B is a breezy full-length skirt. Both views have roomy pockets and an easy fit, thanks to an elasticized back waist, faux button placket, and princess seams. Whether made up in a floaty rayon challis or sumptuous linen, the Holyoke will keep you looking cool all summer long. Look at that awesome fit at the bust and underarm!

LEFT Fully customisable and designed for curves, the Concord knit T-Shirt is a classic wardrobe staple. Choose from three hem lengths (cropped, mid-length or long curved), three necklines (high, V-neck, or scoop), three sleeve lengths (short, medium, or long), two sleeve finishes (cuffed or hemmed), and optional sleeve tabs. Whether you layer them over jeans on Friday night, or pair them with floral skirts at the office, you’ll want a closet of Concords!

RIGHT The Ipswich swimsuit has two cleverly color-blocked variations: a one-piece swimsuit with a contrast waistband or a high-waisted bikini with piping detail. Both suits feature supportive straps, and an optional underwired foam swim bra and boning, so that you’re comfortable lounging by the pool or playing volleyball on your favorite beach. Mix prints and colors for a swimsuit that celebrates your body and your creativity.

LEFT The classic Appleton wrap dress is designed to play up your curves with a crossover front, a built-in waist tie, and a deep V-neck. Designed by and for curvy women, the Appleton’s innovative neckband construction prevents gaping across your bust. Do a celebratory shimmy, because this bodice has you well covered!

RIGHT The structured Lenox shirtdress features curve-friendly princess seams, a traditional or band collar, and the choice of a pleated or gathered skirt. A V-neck button placket frames your face, while roomy pockets provide the perfect hiding spot for your phone and lipstick. Level up your sewing skills and turn heads with this sophisticated shirtdress!

Chalk and Notch

These two popular patterns from Chalk and Notch both offer A/B and C/D bust cup options.

In the shop: Yes, PDF.

Sizing: 0 – 24, approx. UK 6/8 – 24/26.

Bust cup options: A/B and C/D.

The Orchid Midi Dress is a wrap bodice with a midi length skirt. View A has ruffle sleeves. View B has long sleeves with a gathered cap and wrist. It comes with two bust cup options: A/B and C/D. This style is designed for a light to medium weight woven fabric with nice drape e.g. rayon or crepe.

The Fringe sewing pattern is a woven dress and blouse with two views. View A has a button up front, elbow sleeve and sleeve tab. View B has a pull over, notched front with a cuff. Both views include a blouse length, optional dress pockets, optional front or back waist tie and a shaped hem, gathered skirt. The sleeve/cuffs are interchangeable for both views.

Itch to Stitch

Itch to Stitch offers a huge range of sewing patterns that have several bust cup options. Below we’ve selected a few of our favourite tops and dresses from the collection, including the latest release The Kauai Top.

In the shop: Yes, PDF.

Sizing: US 00 – 20, approx. UK 8 – 22.

Bust cup options: A, B, C, D and DD.

LEFT The Kauai Top is a flowy top that keeps you cool in the heat of summer. Designed for lightweight woven fabric, the Kauai pattern comes in multiple cup sizes. The relaxed silhouette is paired with a front-buttoned bib. Go ahead and wear your favorite shorts or pencil skirt with the Kauai. You can also choose to add ruffles to the sleeveless armhole.

RIGHT Whether you want to wear it alone or wear it as a base layer, the Crystal Cove Cami is an indispensable garment in your wardrobe. Designed for woven fabric, the Crystal Cove comes in different cup sizes. The relaxed fit bodice has an overlapping back with curved hem, providing a unique look and plenty of comfort.

LEFT Wrap dresses are popular for a reason—the classic style is flattering on all body shapes.  The Petaluma Faux Wrap Dress gives you the benefit of the flattering shape but with the convenience of a traditional, back-zipped dress. The A-line, petal-shaped skirt includes functional in-seam pockets. The Petaluma also offers three different sleeve options—choose one or make all three! The Petaluma will become your go-to dress for years to come.

RIGHT You know how sometimes you just want to feel pretty and lady-like? I know exactly what you mean! Let me recommend this elegant and jaw-droppingly beautiful number to you: the Giverny Dress. The vintage inspired Giverny has pintucks on the front and pleated sleeves. The figure-flattering fit-and-flare dress has slightly higher waist to give the impression of small waist and long legs. But it’s not just all look; functional in-seam pockets are added to the skirt! You will love the well-rounded Giverny Dress!

LEFT Feel the sunshine and breeze in the Dana Point Top. Whether you are in an office meeting or at a picnic lunch, you will radiate positivity and energy with the exposed shoulder and V neck, not to mention that the pleated waist and flare bottom are designed to accentuate your beautiful figure!

RIGHT Be prepared to radiate charm in this sweet-looking Chirripo Top. Featuring front and back squared necklines, the Chirripo Top has short flutter sleeves that continue down the bodice. Or you can skip the flutter sleeves to make a sleeveless top!

Jennifer Lauren Vintage

Jennifer Lauren Vintage has included A – D bust cup options in all her most recent pattern releases. With a nod to vintage, these classic dresses are elegant with interesting design details.

In the shop: Yes, PDF.

Sizing: UK 6 – 24.

Bust cup options: A, B, C and D.

With a sleek yet easy to wear 1940s A-line silhouette, Laneway will be your go-to dress for everyday adventures and beyond. Double open-ended darts shape the waist and bust for a flattering fit and the distinctive asymmetrical or centred collar is built into the facing of the bodice, meaning no extra pattern pieces or tricky construction techniques are required.

LEFT The Pippi Pinafore will become your favourite go-to weekend dress. Darts and gently curved sides shape the bib, creating a flattering silhouette for multiple bust sizes. The pleated front skirt and side button placket create a relaxed look while also stepping your sewing repertoire up a few notches.

RIGHT Raine’s gently curved waistband creates a flattering hourglass silhouette with darts shaping the upper bodice. Personalise your dress with your choice of a ‘40s-inspired sweetheart or classic scoop neckline.

LEFT Mayberry’s gently curved neckline leads to its distinctive off-centre button placket.  Darts shape the bust while the in-built drawstring casing means you can make the dress as shapely or as comfortable as you like.

RIGHT With a graceful V neckline, bust darts for shaping and a fully enclosed yoked back bodice, Quincy is the perfect stepping stone towards tackling more advanced sewing projects. Pockets are neatly integrated into the flattering panelled skirt, and the in-built drawstring casing with two sleeve options combine to create a relaxed and casual look

Untitled Thoughts

Untitled Thoughts has included B-DD bust cup options in her most recent pattern release the Amelie dress, and we thought it was too good not to include.

In the shop: Yes, PDF.

Sizing: UK 6 – 24.

Bust cup options: B,C,D-DD.

The Amelie dress has all your summer dress dreams wrapped up. This vintage inspired dress features two back opening options, statement darts at the front as well as varying dress length. There is an option to add a sleeve with this pattern and we love that there are two bicep options for this!

McCall’s, Butterick and Vogue Patterns  – custom cup ranges

With almost 50 sewing pattern options, the commercial brands offer a wide range of patterns with custom cup pattern pieces. Here are some of our favourites. You can search all the options on here.

In the shop: No, available in paper format directly from the designer.

Sizing: Check specific pattern details.

Bust cup options: A, B, C and D (some C/D, DD and DDD options too).

Blue Prints for Sewing

The latest pattern release from Blue Prints for Sewing is the Moderne Coat. It is a cocoon style coat with dropped shoulders, which comes in two versions. Choose from either a sporty style collar and cuffs and curved hem or flat bland collar with a size vent hem. Make with demin, canvas or wool fabrics.

In the shop: No. Available as a PDF directly from designer.

Sizing: approx. UK 6/8 – 24.

Bust cup options: A / B or C / D

Searching for patterns

Use our search tool to browse our sewing pattern shop for style inspiration. Select any of the options from the search tool to narrow down the results. You can choose from options including: garment, designer, size, price, sewing level or fabric type. Plus you can also select for stock status, PDF or PAPER format and whether the sewing pattern has been designed by an independent or commerical company. Watch our video above on how to find your next sewing project.

Saving pattern ideas

If you find sewing patterns that you like the look of you can save them to wish lists and pattern libraries in your Fold Line account. Watch our video to create multiple wish lists and pattern libraries to record all the sewing plans you are creating!

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4 thoughts on “The Sewing Pattern Tutorials 12: Sewing patterns for different bust cups

  1. Hi – silly question but I presume when you are describing the patterns that the cup sizes you list are for patterns not bras? e.g. D = 4 inch difference between full and high bust?

    1. Hi, bra sizes are not the same as cup sizes. The cup sizes listed for the patterns are the difference between the high bust and bust for that specific pattern. Hope that helps, Rachel.

  2. This is interesting but I’m left with a question I’ve always had about using patterns with multiple cup sizes. I’m a DD/E, so in regular patterns I’ve always chosen my size with high bust measurement and done the FBA, like you do, but when the multi-cup patterns came out I didn’t know how to pick my size so I haven’t tried any. Do you choose your size based on your full bust measurement + cup size knowing the draft will reduce the size of the shoulders and upper chest? Or do you still choose based on the high bust measurement + cup size knowing the draft will add the volume in for the needed boobage-accomodation? Thanks for your help. I’d love to give these a try and save the FBA time for more sewing.

    1. Cashmerette patterns say to ‘use your full bust measurement to choose your bust size. If your full bust could fit into two sizes, choose the size closest to your waist size.’ Itch to Stitch patterns say much the same. I’ve had great success with patterns from both these designers.

      I’m a HH cup in bra cup size, but only a C cup in sewing pattern cup size. Until I discovered that sewing pattern cup size is basically all about your shoulders, and bears no relation to your bra size, I really struggled to make anything woven without it drowning me. Now I’m working on a whole new wardrobe!

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