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Eyela A. from Oregon writes in:
I love to sew, but am not quite at the level where I can design or modify patterns. However, I’m getting there out of necessity. My biggest problem is that the chest darts in dress and blouse patterns aren’t sufficiently long to accommodate a larger cup size. It’s also not useful to buy larger patterns since the rest of the proportions stop working. I’ve searched high and low for a good tutorial or guide for how to appropriately re-size a dart, but there’s not much out there. I wonder if you know a good resource?
I can point you to two books and one website that will help you get the shape you want out of your pattern. You should read up on bodice pattern construction and learn all about the the bust point and where you’ll need to move it on your pattern.
Here are my two favorite books about pattern construction/manipulation:
How to Make Sewing Patterns by Donald H. McCunn features a whole section on changing dart locations.
Patternmaking for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph-Armstrong is a substantial book containing almost everything you’d want to know about making sewing patterns, and has a large section on darts. If you want the book but don’t like the high price tag, look for previous editions that contain basically the same information. This is a textbook that is continually revised, and is priced as such.
Lastly, have you heard of BurdaStyle? They have a bunch of free tutorials for sewing techniques (including pattern manipulation) created by staff and users of the site. Check out this fullbust adjustment for princess seams turorial, a trick for natural-looking bust darts, and the staff tutorials on turning darts into princess seams and constructing the basic bodice block.