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You might need bust darts after all

In ’22, I started adding optional bust shaping to my garments using short row shaping. In those patterns, I give instructions to choose a cup size. Here’s an example: To choose a cup size, measure your body from the top of the shoulder to your underbust in both the back and the front. Subtract the back length from the front length then subtract 2 inches / 5 cm, then choose a cup size based on the result. The logic is that if a measuring tape dropped over our front is substantially longer than one dropped over the back because it has to travel over our breasts, we probably need to add some length in the front. I have you subtract 2” because knitting stretches and goes where it wants, and because there’s already some amount of bust increase built into the circumference of the sweater. But this can backfire if we have a high, rounded upper back. This is a common fit issue and one that sewists learn to adjust for. Many of us deposit tissue here or have postural changes that add a small hump to the top of the upper back. So if you’re measuring the front and the back, and they’ve both got bumps, you’re not going to see the real difference! How will you know if this is you? Put on a sweater and stand in profile. If the lines of the stitching tilt up from the underarm, that’s a clue. If your hem is longest at the sides and tilts up in the front and back, that’s another clue. Finally, look for draglines (long swooshy wrinkles) from the hem to the waist.

This is Classic LBD on my dress form. Because I already added darts, I lightly padded out the front so that the darts are not quite sufficient, and I used pads to create a very full upper back. This is a bit of an exaggeration, but I hope it's helpful!

What to do?

If this is you, use the lines of stockinette on your sweater to calculate how much length you might add for your bust darts. Or, if you can see the tilt when you stand to the side, see how much you would like to lengthen the front in order to fix the issue. PS: Although it’s outside the scope of this conversation, you can also work an adjustment to bring that back hem into alignment – the short version is short row shaping across the humped area immediately under the collar, and if it’s more than half an inch needed, another set of short rows the same width halfway between the shoulders and the underarm. You can always book a session with me if you’d like to dig deeper into your fit issues!

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