• Camilla

Why I Started "Sew Busty", by Lindsie (@sewbusty)

TW : body image.


I had just finished the final seam on a popular shirt pattern. You know, that satisfying feeling when you’ve made A THING from start to finish? A thing you can wear? That’s what I was feeling. I was riding the high. Until I put it on.

I looked like a cube. A dreary, frumpy cube.


And this isn’t negative body talk. I’m not a cube, and I’m not frumpy. I just have fabulous tits.


The problem, alas, was the pattern. Like most patterns, it was probably drafted for a garment B cup--that is, a 2” difference between high bust and full bust. I have a 5.5” difference between high bust and full bust (and an even more severe 11” difference between full bust and underbust).

I had tried to do my research. Before cutting my pattern, I had found one bigger-boobed sewing blogger who had successfully made this same pattern with no full bust adjustment. It looked good on her. But here I was, a frumpy, dreary cube.



What if there was a community where I could have gotten more big-busted opinions? I thought, whipping out my computer to search Facebook. Nothing. Well, one group about making full bust adjustments that hadn’t seen a post in months, so essentially nothing. Sigh.

And in that moment, I started dreaming about creating the Sew Busty Community. In addition to the Sew Busty Community blog, which launched May 8, Sew Busty is also now a Facebook group, an Instagram account, and a subreddit--all dedicated to the sewing shenanigans of boobalicious people.


Let’s talk about the average body

According to a bunch of studies, the average bra size in the US is something like a 34DD. In the UK, it’s just slightly bigger at a 36DD. (I have an inkling these sizes are on the small side, though, given that about 80% of people are also wearing the wrong bra size.)


So why, when the average bra-wearing person wears a DD cup, are patterns drafted for a B?

This question keeps playing in my mind, and the more I think about it, the more flustered I get.



The Busty Pattern Database--the predecessor to Sew Busty and now a resource available on the blog--collects the more than 60 pattern designers who draft their patterns for big(ger) boobs. When I first created this database, I got a lot of comments like, “But altering a pattern to fit is just part of sewing! You can always do a full bust adjustment, you know?”


Yes, Karen, I know. But all you B cup babes don’t have to alter your patterns, so why should I have to do it every. stinking. time. Busty people deserve to be lazy sometimes too.


It was out of a selfish yearning for this laziness that I created the Database.


After a day of frustrating bust adjustments, I decided that if an updated list of bust-friendly patterns didn’t exist, I’d make one. For myself. So I could do some chill sewing.



There went about 20 hours of my time in one weekend, just googling around for patterns that included cup sizes, full bust pieces, or that were drafted for a larger cup. Coming to the end of my rope, I asked members of the Curvy Sewing Collective Facebook group for input. Once I had a good list, I figured, Why not share this with others? and I posted it on my Instagram. After about 100 new followers in 3 days, it became clear that I wasn’t the only one looking for boobalicious sewing resources.


So that’s one of the main goals of Sew Busty: to offer resources for busty sewists, from patterns they can make on a lazy Sunday without worrying about bust alterations, to different ways to do full bust adjustments when they’re feeling a little more adventurous.



Searching for community

But Sew Busty’s biggest goal is in its name: the Sew Busty Community. My number one priority is that Sew Busty becomes an inclusive space where big-chested people can come together to support one another.

You see, whether looking at “curvy” patterns or “straight sized” ones, I never see myself. I never really fit into curvy sewing groups, nor into regular sewing groups. I am just … different. Too small for the curvy communities, and too curvy for the straight sized ones. And apparently I’m not the only one.


The same sequence of me trying a pattern, having it not work, searching the internet for a busty sewing community, and not finding anything, happened so many times. Every time, I yearned to have people I could cry with when my stupid shirts don’t come out right, when I get the dreaded armpit wings DESPITE having done a full bust adjustment, and when I look like a flipping frumpy cube.


A note on bodies

I’m a firm believer that all bodies are good bodies. And I recognize that bustiness isn’t the only ignored, but totally normal and sometimes even average, body thing that is sidelined by the sewing community and most pattern designers. For example, plus-size sewists have long fought for pattern designers to include larger sizes in their ranges. And it’s very disappointing that some designers haven’t gotten there yet.


But I want to offer a thought: Body diversity is about more than just size.

I recognize that I have the privilege of seeing people who look like me in popular culture (hello Pamela Anderson and Dolly Parton!). And I also recognize that doing a full bust adjustment isn’t as time consuming as grading a whole-ass pattern up multiple sizes. So I want to be clear: If designers have to choose, they should choose extending their overall size range before adding busty options.

But I also want to encourage designers to take a more holistic view of body diversity. As it applies to busty sewists, this could mean:

  • If you’re already offering cup options in larger sizes, consider adding them to your smaller sizes

  • If you’re not ready to offer cup options or full bust pieces, consider doing a full bust adjustment tutorial on each pattern release

  • Consider cup options that don’t stop at a 4” difference between high and full bust. Many sewists are seeking patterns that will work for a 6 or even 8” full/high bust difference.

  • For the love of God, at minimum, include information on high bust measurements on your size chart to make it easier for busty people to choose the correct size on which to do an FBA.



The future for Sew Busty

I’m excited to see where Sew Busty goes! In its short existence (like, literally, I finally jumped on this idea on April 3), Sew Busty has welcomed thousands of new followers and members. Here’s a few things you can find (or will soon find) on the blog:

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