Tiramisu Circus And Pre-Sale : Bodice Sizing!

Before we talk about bust sizing, I just want to say WOW!  My inbox has never gone as crazy as it did last night!  Thank you all for your support for Tiramisu- as I write this you all have purchased 135 patterns!  I set a goal of 150, but the pre-sale will be on until the 5th of October, as I said it would.  The more, the merrier!

This post in The Circus will show you what I did with the bodice piece for this dress.  I want to say now that this is a dress pattern- it will not magically solve the world’s problems and cure cancer.  If only.  In a perfect world, it would be possible to make a pattern that fit everyone out of the envelope.

But that’s perfection, not real life.  I definitely think perfection is a great ideal to strive for, but I also don’t let it own me.  Tiramisu will not fit some of you out of the envelope and I don’t want to make it sound like it will.  That’s not realistic.  However, I believe I built the pattern in a way that makes it easy to check for fit and simple to alter.

This is the draft for size 45 high bust.  It features four sizes.  That means that the bodice front piece comes in 20 sizes.  I hesitate to use the word “size,” because strictly speaking the A, B, C, D choices have more to do with proportion than size.  “Cup” sizing is a very strange issue.  This pattern does not necessarily reflect actual cup size.  Rather, A-D are a handy way to mark different bust proportions.

Handy diagram borrowed from a sculpting site. Click for source.

I think many, if not most of us struggle with bust fit.  Part of the issue with fit is the width required to cover the bust, and part of the issue is creating a good proportional relationship between the back and the front.  In this system, the A cup front is the same width (well, slightly wider on the larger sizes) as the back, with gentle shaping.  The B and C cups give a bit more room and shaping in the front, and the D cup is designed to accommodate larger types.

In this chart, you can see that the D cup for one size and the A cup for the next size up are quite close to one another.  In fact, for the fabric we’re working with (knits), they’re essentially the same.  This means if your front is proportionately much larger than your back, you can choose the D.  If you are proportionately smaller in the front, you can use the A.  The B and C help those in between.

For example- I have a high bust measurement of 36″ and a full bust measurement of 40″.  I used an unaltered 35D for my Tiramisu bodices and it works quite well.  The front doesn’t even gape!  Imagine that, busty ladies.  I also found I could quite easily stuff myself into the C, the B was pushing it but still wearable.  But the 35D was optimal.

Also, note the two lines on this pattern piece.  One is to aid stripes matching (yaaaay!) and the other is to aid bust alteration.  The Cake site features a simple tutorial on altering the bust for fit, and the address will be found on the pattern piece.  I thought it would be the simplest approach to build the alteration into the pattern this way.

Now- I know this is a bit different.  That’s why I’m showing it to you now.  This seemed to me the best way to tackle the bust issue.  Some future Cake patterns will not be this detailed in the size area because the design won’t demand it.  However, for this dress we have an underbust seam and a mock-wrap front to consider, and that means it’s important to pay attention to proportion.

Width/ease preferences  are much easier puzzles.  Fit is important to me, but it’s a very individual aspect of sewing and it’s not possible to build all of the fit into the pattern.  But that’s ok.  I show you how to make it work.  No need to guess.  The pattern is designed for you to play with the side seams to achieve the fit you want, and this means we also have a little leeway in choosing the “width” of the bodice.

Also, this dress uses knit fabric cut on the bias, and every knit will behave slightly differently.  This is another reason I chose to focus more on proportion and less on a precise fit for the bodice, with supplementary material to help you if you need it as you sew.   And of course, I am always available via email for issues not mentioned in the supplements.

Yesterday, a sharp eyed reader noticed my metric tables were a little “squishy.”  I generally use a 2.5cm conversion to inches when I’m working with knits.  It’s a round number I can easily multiply while I’m working.  Knits are different to wovens- they behave completely differently.  With a fitted woven dress, precise measurements are essential.  With a knit bias dress, the numbers can be somewhat fluid.  In fact, I think that’s probably preferable.  However, in the interests of science and precision, I’ll go back through and re-work the charts using a 2.54 cm to inches conversion and use 2.54 in all future charts and tables.  No problem.

What do you think?  :)

If you’d like to pre-order a Tiramisu Dress pattern for $11 (retail $17), please visit my Etsy shop.  Pre-sale closes on October 5th!

Next: Field-Testing A Design and Design Inspiration.  Then we’ll get into some knit sewing guides!  And there’s a giveaway coming up so you can make a dress like Penelope’s!


  1. So helpful! Can’t wait till I get my pattern. This will be the second time I’ve sewn a knit on the bias. The first time I had no idea that I didn’t need to (i was using one of those woven-or-knit patterns. What’s with those?) and used a very stretchy knit. Challenging. Since then I’ve learnt to sew, though, but I’ll still appreciate any hints on fabric selection! This is going to be a great learning process and heaps of un, if your posts are all as informativ as today’s one. Thankyou!

  2. Just read your “knits on the bias” post, so I think that answers my questions. Very interesting.

  3. This pattern is going to up my skills so many levels I can’t wait. I sit on adoption panel every month and this is The Perfect Dress for that. Smart enough that I feel professional, comfortable enough to sit in an overly centrally heated meeting room without fidgeting, yet not overbearing that I’ll intimidate the nervous adopters we meet.

    I want one in every colour.

    • Maybe it will! I hope… We’ll see what happens. I think you’ll like it.

      Yes. That is why I like my Tiras, and why I can’t stop making them even though I don’t need any more samples. I frickin love this dress…

  4. That’s great. Congratulations. Looking forward to getting your pattern and tackling something different. Really like the clever way you have designed it and as an a-cup I’m so happy I won’t be having to work out a SBA on it. All reasons to say Yayyyyyy.

  5. I am so excited for this dress! I’m thinking of everyone in my family I can make them as xmas presents for too. Still, I’ll wait for the download version. If you need more folks to cover printing costs, I would buy a download pre-sale if it were available!

    • Wow, so ambitious! My make time on these is about 3.25 hours, but I sew very quickly. :)

      Thanks so much, the production costs are covered !! Woohoo!! The downloads will be available at the same time I receive the paper patterns- Early November, we hope. :)

  6. The more I read, the more excited I get. Of course, I can’t wait to make this dress and I even have fabric chosen. I’m really fascinated by your fitting and sizing techniques. Like many other sewers out there, every garment gets me more and more familiar with what my shape actually is and exactly where I need to adjust my patterns. On top of that, spurred on by your foray into bra-making, I have been doing a lot of reading of bra blogs (who knew there were so many out there?) and now understand more about the shape of my boobs as well, which will impact my sewing further. I know we smaller-breasted women aren’t faced with the same issues as fuller-breasted women, but when a garment doesn’t fit properly, it’s the same for all cup sizes. You are doing a great service in demystifying all of of this for us, so thank you :)

  7. Genius, I can’t wait to see how this works as I play with it in real life.

    So, question… what if one wanted to make up the dress in two different fabrics, say bodice in one fabric, and skirt/midriff in a second fabric. Would a 1yard/1 1/2yard ratio work safely?

  8. ok you’ve sold me! ^_^ I loved the pattern right away but have banned myself from buying any more… however your ingenious treatment of bodice sizing has me really excited! Do you think the D will be ok for a DD gal, taking into consideration the stretch factor? :)

    • So sorry to make you stray. Ok, probably not really. :) The 35D is what I wear in this pattern, and I have some kind of bra size around the 34F (?) mark. So yes, probably. :) If not, I’m here to help. Well, the Consulting Dressmaker is. We’ll talk about her later…

  9. Pingback: Pedigree of a Dress- Design Inspiration! « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

  10. I had a similar question to the previous.. your D pattern pieces seem to allow 3-5 inches between high bust and bust.. I have 7-8 depending on which bra I’m wearing, how much I’ve eaten recently etc. Am I likely to be able to squeeze into it? Or alter it to fit? Or.. something? I have grabby grabby hands for this pattern, but I don’t want it to languish in a pile unused because I can’t make it work.

    • Yes, we can always alter. I haven’t tried it on someone of your proportions, but I’m pretty certain we can make it work. The Consulting Dressmaker is available for fitting support, I’ll talk about that a bit later… But yes, I think it should work. Midriffs are really great for larger busted ladies, especially when we can slash and spread the bodice a bit and just have a little more gathering under the bust… :)

  11. SO. Excited. By. This. Not least because it looks like I might be supposed to use the 30D pattern pieces. I think you made my year there. ;)

    Do you list back length somewhere? (yeah, my personal issues are showing. I’m sure you do. ;) )

    • YAY! :) I am so pleased you’re excited! Well- no back length exactly, because of the bias cut it tends to vary slightly. There *is* a mid-construction fit check built in, and if the bottom edge of the midriff section is too long, trim it off. It’s a very wide midriff band for that reason.. I know! But we can’t be scientific about bias, unfortunately.

  12. Wow, that’s a pretty ingenious way of bust-fitting! Ok, you’ve convinced me, I do most of my sewing-with-knits without a pattern, but it looks like Tiramisu is well worth it! :)

  13. Pingback: Tiramisu Circus: Seam Finish Time Trials! « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

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