Community Blog | Sewing for Augmented Breasts with Hazel

I’d like to start off by giving a little history on my personal story, mostly because breast augmentation is pretty stigmatized (unless for post mastectomy reconstruction) and I want to give some background on why I made the decision to have breast augmentation, and how it has affected my relationship with my breasts, my body, and my sewing practice.

I remember laying on the grass in the back yard when I was 15, daydreaming, my hands cradling the back of my head, while my parents chatted with a visiting neighbour. Someone shocked me out of my daydream by saying “Hazel, are your boobs two different sizes?” I was, quite understandably, mortified, and ran into the house. You see, I already knew that my breasts didn’t match, but I didn’t know that it was noticeable to other people. Later that same summer, I was on the bus and two older boys behind me were loudly discussing what kind of boobs I had. One said he thought they’d be small and perky. The other said he thought they were round and full. They were both correct. I felt violated.

Fast forward 15+ years, and two breastfed babies later; the asymmetry was even worse. My left breast was quite comfortably a DD cup or maybe an E, while the right was swimming in an A cup. Obviously I couldn’t find a bra that fit. If I wore a bra that fit the larger breast, when I leaned over you could see all of my smaller breast clear as day. If I wore a bra that fit the smaller breast, the larger one was spilling out of the too-small cup making all kinds of bulges. Underwires hurt. It was literally impossible to find a bra that fit, and even sports bras didn’t fit correctly. I tried making a frankenbra out of two bras that did fit. I bought two different sizes, cut them down the middle and stitched them together. While technically it did fit, it didn’t fit well and it fell apart after a few wears.

All of this led me to trying to figure out how to resolve the problem. If I were in this position now, in 2021, I’d have learned how to make my own bras, because there’s a large online bra making community and supplies are relatively easy to find(more on that later). In 2007, however, that was not the case. I tried supplements and creams that promised to grow breast tissue (it didn’t). Exercises (they don’t work). Different types of bras (they don’t make commercial bras for bodies like mine). Nothing worked. Finally, I spoke with my doctor to ask about having a reduction on the larger side, who said that this degree of asymmetry is actually not “normal” but unfortunately corrective surgery would not be covered by insurance. He sent me home with a diagnosis of anisomastia, but no solutions. I met with a plastic surgeon at the urging of a friend of mine, and was told that the larger breast was too small for a reduction, but I would be a good candidate for augmentation.

This opened up a whole different set of thoughts for me. I was so used to small cup sizes and clothing that didn’t fit because the smaller breast didn’t fill it out. I was an experienced sewist, but had very little experience with fitting, so didn’t consider doing full bust and small bust adjustments as options for a better fit. I also had two small children, and didn’t have time to sew for myself. It seemed that augmentation was the only option I had, since having children had made the asymmetry worse (the larger breast grew and stayed that size, while the smaller one shrank back to its “gumdrop under a tarp” proportions after I was done nursing).

I got my augmentation surgery in 2008, with the implants placed under the pectoral muscle. I had almost immediate regrets. I still couldn’t find bras that fit, and my breasts were larger than I had expected. The surgeon explained that he would have to put implants in both breasts, or they’d look and feel obviously different. There was no way they could make them 100% symmetrical, but the result after surgery was beasts that were closer to the same size, however they didn’t behave like natural breasts do. Newly augmented breasts look WEIRD. They stick out at weird angles, and feel tight and swollen for weeks (they eventually soften and settle down). Every mammogram I will have is a diagnostic mammogram, because of the implants. Thanks to my larger breasts, I didn’t fit into ready-to-wear sizing, so I was living in tshirts and ribbed tank tops. Yes, my boobs looked glorious, but I was still difficult to fit. They got in the way when doing yoga, and men (including my spouse) stopped talking to my face. I had no upper body strength due to cutting the pectoral muscles to place the implants. They were numb for a year, and I have 4” long scars in the inframammary fold where the implants were inserted.

And yet, while the results of my surgery were not quite what I expected, after the initial buyer’s remorse, I was happier with my new breasts than I had been with my severe asymmetry. 

Breasts are complicated organs. No two are exactly alike. They come in all shapes and sizes, sometimes on the same body, like in my case. I’ve recently learned that breast tissue that is significantly uneven has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, and I have a first degree relative who had to have a mastectomy a few years ago (which also puts me at higher risk for breast cancer). I’ve had four mammograms in the past three years, in part to establish a baseline and also because the scar tissue that is created by the insertion of implants can look concerning on a mammogram. I’ve had two ultrasounds on my breasts. There haven’t been any changes since my first mammogram, fortunately. 

All that having been said, this is about sewing! Learning to sew for my new body has been a journey. I was used to everything pretty much fitting ok out of the envelope, but not anymore! Now my breasts were a good two to three sizes larger than the rest of me, and grading between sizes just wasn’t going to work. Darts were in the wrong place, and they were too long and too shallow. Shirts were too short at the front, and dress waistlines pulled up. I had to learn to do full bust adjustments when I wasn’t used to having to do any fitting adjustments at all. Of course, the first project I did an FBA on was my wedding dress for my second marriage (he appreciates my boobs but talks to my face).

That first FBA made me want to quit sewing. I’d never done one before, and chose a bodice with an asymmetrical neckline because we wanted a retro vibe for the wedding (Butterick 6582 with a full gathered skirt with added pockets, of course). I must have done a dozen muslins to get the bodice right. I relied heavily on the Adjust the Bust class on Craftsy, as well as the Curvy Sewing Collective blog for tutorials. It was a journey involving pointy darts, darts that pointed the wrong angle, darts that were too long, darts that were too short. I learned to love and hate darts. I had nobody to hold my hand through the process. There was a lot of swearing, plenty of wasted fabric, more than a few tears, several glasses of wine, and finally a bodice that fit. And it fit perfectly. No gaping armholes. No shoulders that fall off. No drag lines. No pulling up at the waist. 

After that, the FBA and I became good friends. I learned to take my upper bust measurement to determine what size I should be cutting, and accepted that patterns were not drafted for the cup volume I needed, and went into each project with the expectation that I would be doing an FBA. I got good at it, and taught a friend how to adjust for her own larger bust, when she lamented about sewing patterns that just don’t fit.

Learning how to adjust sewing patterns to fit my bust led to realizing that I could fit other areas that weren’t quite fitting right as well. I learned about drag lines, smile lines, and pooling fabric. Previously the only adjustment I’d done was to grade between sizes, but it never worked out because it wasn’t the appropriate approach to the fitting issue I was having. I always get a pile of fabric at my back waist, so I learned how to do a swayback adjustment. I have big biceps and calves, so I learned to adjust for those too. I’m not talking about grading between sizes here, there are specific adjustments needed that will address a muscular calf better than grading sizes (if you just grade sizes, the front calf of your pant leg will be too big). My post-baby (and too much chocolate) tummy? There’s an adjustment for that too, and it’s not difficult to do.

While I was able to resolve my bust fitting issues with garment sewing patterns, I still didn’t have a bra that fit quite right, because as I said before, augmented breasts don’t behave the same way as natural breasts. They have a tendency to be somewhat self-supporting (depending on how much breast tissue you had to begin with and how your implants are placed). Most underwired bras didn’t tack at the centre because my breasts, which used to be set a bit far apart, are now closer together. Since I couldn’t find commercial bras that fit well, I dipped my toe into the world of bramaking in 2019. Let me tell you, my world has been changed! I don’t sew a lot of bras, and I haven’t quite perfected the fit yet, but they fit a whole lot better than what I can get at the store. At my size (32H or I in ready to wear) bras aren’t cheap, and there’s not a lot available. Obviously shopping online is problematic. 

Through my bramaking journey, I’ve discovered that yes, I’m still asymmetrical, but it’s not enough that it is visible. It is enough that I need to adjust my cup volume however. My most-made pattern is the Black Beauty bra by Emerald Erin, with a split lower cup, narrowed bridge, and reduced bottom band (the elastic flips when worn otherwise, thanks to my ribcage shape). I’m currently working on perfecting the Ruby bra by Pinup Girls, because I don’t always want to wear the same style of bra. I try to only order supplies from Canadian shops, since shipping from the US or elsewhere is slow and expensive, so my options are a bit limited, but I can still sew up a bra that is prettier than what I can buy for less money than it would cost if I could find one that fits me right.

These days, I don’t buy clothes aside from cardigans and graphic tees. I know I don’t have to settle for tops that fit at the bust but are too big everywhere else, or live in jersey knits 365 days a year. Sewing my own clothes means I have control over the fit, fabric, and style. The options available in shops leave a lot to be desired. I can’t recall the last time I bought clothes. I can, however, tell you that the last time I bought fabric was about two weeks ago! I don’t just make tops, either. I sew all ofmy clothes. I make my own jeans, and they fit better than anything that I could find in a store. I sew underwear out of scraps, and no, they don’t match my bras because I don’t care. I have an office job and need to dress for my role, and wear all me-mades to work. 

I’m glad to see the indie pattern design community coming together to make fitting easier for those of us with larger breasts, but it still isn’t perfect. Most designers only offer a D cup option for size 12 and up (I currently wear a 12 or 14). Most don’t offer additional cup sizes. Even with D cup sizing, I sometimes still need a little bit of an FBA. I’d love to see more designers offer cup sizes for their entire size range, and even better if they offered multiple cup size options. I have the power to adjust patterns, however, and can do so fairly quickly now that I’m comfortable with the adjustments I need to get a good fit.

At the end of the day, I’m glad I got my surgery, but it wasn’t the solution to the “problem” I was having. It actually created a whole new set of “problems”. In reality, those “problems” come down to society’s perception of what is “normal”, but really, whose body fits that perception of “normal”? I don’t know anyone who fits off the rack clothing perfectly. I’m a little taller than average. I’ve got big hips and a smaller waist. Big calves, big feet, and Mother Nature blessed me with boobs that don’t match. It’s been a long journey, but now that I’m in my 40’s, I’ve finally made peace with my body. My body isn’t a problem to be fixed. Sometimes the clothes aren’t designed to fit MY body, and I have the power to adjust the clothes to fit ME. And, thanks to a great plastic surgeon, I’ve got awesome boobs.

Hazel is a sewist and knitter based I. Vancouver, Canada. Sewing is in her blood, and she can’t sit still without some kind of project in her hands. See all of Hazel’s makes on instagram!

Bra Month | Jet Set Sew Along Week B: Cutting and Sewing the Main & Lining

At Sew Busty, June 2021 is bra month! Catch up on all the bra month posts here!

As part of bra month, we’ll be doing a sew along of the Firebrand Jet Set Natural bra. This bra, and all Firebrand patterns, are 20% off throughout June 2021 with code SEWBUSTY. See the full sew along here.

On June 16 at 5 PM Eastern USA time (UTC-4),  I’ll be hosting a LIVE chat to answer all your questions about this week’s sew along content! If you’re on Facebook, click here to pre-register. If you’re not on Facebook, no worries! Click here to join directly via Google Meet on June 16 at 5 PM EDT.

Over the past week, you should have:

  • Taken your measurements and chosen your size based on last week’s post
  • Purchased, downloaded, printed, and taped together your pattern. (Haven’t done this yet? Make sure to use our coupon code: SEWBUSTY for 20% off!)
  • Adjusted your pattern to suit your HH and underbust measurements
  • Gathered your tools, including fabric, elastic, strapping, slides and rings, and two G hooks

By the end of today, you’ll have something that looks like a bra! Woohoo!

Cutting your fabric

Some copies of the Jet Set Pattern don’t have grain lines drawn on them, so the first step is to draw on your grain line. It should be perpendicular to the apex on your cup pieces, and parallel to the bottom edge for your band and wing, as seen in this slideshow:

You’ll want to cut each pattern piece out of your main fabric and lining. For this post, I’m only showing you my main fabric. I’m using boring, cheap muslin for my lining! It’s not interesting. 😂

Before unpinning your pattern pieces from your fabric, be sure to transfer your pattern notations. I do this by sticking a pin through each mark and using my water-soluble fabric pen to make a dot on the fabric on each spot, pulling back the pattern paper to make my mark on the top fabric, as seen in this slideshow:

Sewing Your Cups

The first thing I like to do once I have all my pieces cut out and unpinned is to lay everything out, right side up. This helps me to make sure I don’t sew anything backwards, which, with bras, can be easy to do.

Then, I flip the upper left cup over on top of the the lower left cup, matching the apexes. Then I pin it together, starting with the apex, then each end, then filling in between those pins.

We’re then going to sew this with a 1 cm (3/8″) seam allowance. Do this on both main cups and both lining cups.

Topstitching the Cup Seam

Now, we’re going to finger press (or press, if you’re using fabric not easily finger pressed) the seam allowance open, and topstitch the horizontal cup seam. While topstitching, make sure to catch the seam allowance under each respective side.

I like to topstitch by using a foot with a clear center point. I then set my needle to somewhere between 1.5-2 mm to the right to topstitch on the right of my seam, following the seam with the center point of my foot. Then, I switch my needle to be between 1.5-2 mm to the left (matching this amount with the other side), and topstitch to the left of my seam.

While topstitching, I check from time to time to make sure I’m still catching the seam allowance. Check out this slideshow to see the process, starting with setting my needle:

Why do I switch the needle from right to left like this? Well, it’s important to start from the same spot when topstitching each side. Trying to topstitch from outer cup in on one line and then from inner cup out on the other can cause some funky tension issues.

Once it’s all sewn together, you may notice that your center cup is not a straight line, but is instead a bit bent. This is correct! This is what will create bust separation!

Attaching and Topstitching the Underband

The next step is to attach the underband. Before you do this, you need to snip the bottom of your cup at the point, snipping just shy of 1 cm (3/8″), like so:

With right sides together, start by poking a pin through the pattern marking on the underband and then through the corresponding marking on the cup, aligning the fabric edge. Then pin the very end of the pieces together, finishing by matching between these two pins. Stitch this at a 1cm seam allowance, stopping at the pattern marking. Repeat for the other cup.

Once you have this sewn together, finger press the seam allowance open and follow the same topstitching method as discussed above: position your needle 1.5-2 mm to the right, stitch down that side of the seam allowance, then position your needle the same amount to the left and stitch down that side of the seam allowance.

Combining the Cups

The next step is to sew the cups together. You want to make sure your horizontal seams match, so I like to start by putting a pin through my horizontal seam on one cup, then through the horizontal seam on the other cup, pinning the cups together here. I then check each side to make sure the pin is aligned with the seam on each, as you can see in this image comparison:

Pin the rests of the center seam up to the pattern marking.

Now, we’re going to stitch from the top of this center seam down to the pattern marking. Be sure not to go past the pattern marking!

Finger press the seam allowance open and topstitch, using the method described above.

Attaching the Wing

Remember how I said that, if your underbust measurement is less than 40″, to cut the largest wing? And if your underbust measurement is above 40″ to add inches to the wing per the instructions in last week’s post? You are not going to trim it at this point. We will trim it next week, if needed.

So, for now, we’re just going to attach the wing you cut to the cup and underband. Start at the bottom of the underband, and pin upward. You may have a bit of overhang on one piece or the other at the top. Don’t worry about this.

Sew at a 1 cm seam allowance.

Once again, you need to finger press the seam allowance open and topstitch!

The last step we’re going to do today is to trim that little extra where the cup meets the wing. You may not have this extra, as I altered my wing a bit, and honestly may have introduced this issue. But if you do have this little extra, just trim it off like this:

Make sure to do this entire process on both your main and lining.

Your Homework

This week, you should:

  • Sew and topstitch your horizontal cup seam on your main and lining
  • Sew and topstitch the underband onto the cups for your main and lining
  • Sew the cups together and topstitch on your main and lining
  • Sew the wing onto the cups, topstitch, and trim if needed on your main and lining

The next installment of the Jet Set Bra sew along will take place June 21! We’ll talk about combining your main and lining, inserting the band elastic, and start talking about your closure.

Questions? Don’t forget to join our live chat on Wednesday! More info can be found here! If you can’t make it, feel free to drop a comment below, or ask on the Sew Busty Facebook group or subreddit.

And, as a preview of things to come, on June 27 at 3 PM Eastern USA time (UTC-4), Kerry, the designer behind the Jet Set Bra, and I will host another live chat to talk with you about construction and fit! Click here to register on Facebook for the June 27 live chat. Not on Facebook? No worries. Click here to join directly via Google Meet on June 16 at 3 PM EDT.

Advanced Fitting Series with Designer Stitch | Darts: Essential Fitting Tools

The Advanced Fitting Series aims to answer all your intermediate-to-advanced fit questions. It is a collaboration between Sew Busty and pattern designer Ann Grose of Designer Stitch. Have a question about fit? Email it to and you might see it featured!

Greetings my lovelies – Ann here from Designer Stitch. And welcome to my first blog post as part of the Sew Busty Advanced Fitting Series – answering your questions about any fitting dilemmas or problems that you may encounter when sewing all of your fabulous me-made clothing.

Over in my Facebook group I call this – My Teachers Hat 👩‍🎓 – so welcome everyone.

As this is my first post about fitting I am going to talk to you about my FAVOURITE subject – DARTS!!
You may have seen a few previous posts over on my blog discussing darts so you will know that I truly adore them.

Darts are an essential fitting tool that is needed in a sewing pattern. They are key in getting the correct fit of your sewing pattern as they enable the fabric to shape and sculpt itself around your body.

Darts give a fabulous silhouette to the garment to enable you to get the best fit possible.

What do darts do?

Darts are a contouring tool – where a flat length of fabric is shaped to contour around your body.

Darts are essentially a wedge of fabric – shaped liked an extended triangle – that is stitched in your fabric to convert that length of fabric – a 2D shape into a 3D shape.

Where are darts found?

Dart areas can be found throughout the body. Bust darts, waist darts, back shoulder darts, front neckline darts.

Even the shaped side seams of a pattern are essentially darts – except they are split apart to create individual front and back side seams.

Darts don’t always have to remain as darts. Darts can be converted in flare, gather, pleats and tucks.

What happens when there are no darts in play?

The above images are my render of two photographs that were submitted to Sew Busty where the submitter was asking about choosing the appropriate size of the pattern.

Her measures were High Bust = 36″, Full Bust = 38″. And she stated the pattern was drafted for a C Cup. (The body measures as detailed warrant a B Cup). She wondered if she needed a full bust adjustment, due to the wrinkling under the bust.

Regardless of this sizing – if you are trying to drape a flat 2D length of fabric over the body you need some type of contouring device – hence DARTS!!

And you may be saying – Why Darts? The images above indicate that the center front (CF) is lifting and there are drape lines radiating from the side seams to the bust point.

What is happening is that the bust is projecting – dragging the fabric – and then lifting the front hem line to accommodate the projection of the bust mound. (Note: the garment fitted the wearer except the drape lines were very visible. They were drape lines – not drag lines which indicate a garment that is too small).

To offset the front hemline lifting – and the drape lines radiating to the bust point – the length of the front pattern piece needs to be increased.

The above image indicates two lengths of measure – one from shoulder – over bust point – down to hem. The second – from shoulder but straight down without going over bust point.

You can see how much longer the length is that is going over the bust point – than the straight vertical measure.

The above image shows the more the bust projects – the need for a greater length of front pattern piece.

Adding extra vertical length to the front pattern will then allow the sewn piece to contour nicely over the body – but to do this we have to add shaping to that pattern piece to offset the extra length.

And that will be remedied by our friends – DARTS!


To add extra length to a pattern piece – to facilitate contour – the entire front needs to be lengthened – but as the center front (CF) of the pattern has to be cut on the fold the entire front piece needs to be split and extra length added in.

And so our lovely dart friends come into play xx.

The extra length added to the vertical front of the pattern is taken up with a side bust dart.

The side bust dart is placed at an angle – generally 8-9cms (3 – 3 3/8″) down from your original armhole/scye line – angled to the junction of your front bust depth/bust point separation known as the bust apex (bust point).

Then this dart is usually shortened back around 3 to 3.5cms (1 1/4″ to 1 1/2″) from your bust apex/bust point (but this can be variable)

Adding bust darts to a pattern piece is relatively easy – if you have your correct measures – and of course know how much is needed.

From the original photo that I drew the above images from I calculated that the OP need to split and add approx 2.5cms (1″) to her front length.

I hope that you have learnt something by reading my story and please shout out by commenting below if you have any thoughts to share. And don’t forget to submit your fit questions to!

The good thing about sewing and fitting our bodies – we always learn NEW THINGS.

Love to you all and please stay safe and well everyone xx

Cheerio my lovelies
Ann xx