Ever since entering a state of unbustedness I have been on a top fitting quest.  I want to develop a way in which I can both adapt commercial patterns  and create a bodice block that I can use and adapt.  I name this first strategy – “let someone else do the hard work for you.”    In this case the someone else is Lekala, Vogue Custom Patterns and the Ralph Pink Measurement Generator.

Here’s my findings so far!

1. Lekala

Lekala, is a pattern company that provides (very cheap) personalised PDF patterns based on your measurements.   Pre-mastectomy I ordered this dress pattern using my normal measurements and a “squished boob” measurement.  I added a wide shoulder adjustment and a broad back adjustment.

Teal Party

My current chest measurement is only 2cm different so I did pretty well at predicting. It fits fairly well still but I do find the gathers poofy!

I also used the same measurements for this shirt. This shirt has a looser fit so I find this still works well.  That said, the bust dart could be removed for future makes.

OWOP 14 Day 7

I then used the dress pattern again to make this top last week:

Ailakki the 4th

So now I have worn these for a while these are my top tips for using Lekala to avoid having to do the hard work yourself:

– the Lekala pattern generator is simple to use and gives you a small bust adjustment with little fuss

– one thing I like is that this approach allow you to keep the design details like darts, just on a smaller scale

– they have quite a range of patterns at good prices but you do need to use your imagination a little as the diagrams are uninspiring

– I have not found any measurement help on the site.  There are fields that may be useful to me but I am unsure of how they work.  It would also be helpful to know how much the adjustments change the pattern by.

– When using the “adjustments” options be aware that you need to be able to correctly diagnose any standard fitting problems you may have.  In my case, I am not convinced that I have diagnosed my shoulder problem correctly! In both the dress and the top, I do find the sleeves are tight at my armpits, despite my fitting adjustments.  I also think that the broad back adjustment may have been the wrong choice as I was swamped in the waist.

– Note that the adjustments do not seem to take into account your measurements, but are applied on top of them.  For example, the broad back adjustment made the waist too wide for me, rather than redistributing my waist measurement between the back and the front. I believe that this could cause problems at the bust line also if you were really unevenly distributed between the two.

For science I have reordered the dress with my new unbusted measurements with the following adjustments – plus broad shoulder and large bicep adjustment – we will see if this worked for me!


2. Vogues custom fit patterns

I am currently working on V8803 that is a looser fit and I have found the ease over the chest and waist to be excessively large.  This was my first attempt at using a Vogue pattern though, so perhaps some of the fault lies with me!

My thoughts:

– There is a small number of patterns offered, but some are key basics that would work really well.

– The patterns contain bust sizes A-B-C-D so I found it really useful to see what happened to the patterns between cup sizes.  I used cup size A and then removed the dart!

– Vogue (and the big 4) are known for their excessive amounts of ease so be aware of this.


3. Ralph Pink’s Measurement Generator

Ralph Pink has released an Excel based tool that helps you input your measurements and then guides you with an (hour long!) tutorial on drawing a customised bodice block into Adobe Illustrator.


I have downloaded the trial (which is for the bodice block) and watched some of the tutorial, and this looks like a great tool if you want to digitise your bodice block.   Or draw your own from scratch.

My thoughts:

– The fact that this relies on your actual measurements is great. No need to worry about any adjustments.

– Be wary of the bust measurement being an all round measurement if you are wider in the back

– I would use a smaller (possibly 0) ease over the bust line

– The size of the darts in the diagram do disturb me..

– I would hand draw the bodice block and sew up a muslin before drawing in Adobe to work out any issues

– Whilst this method takes longer, if you are keen on drafting your own patterns then this may be worth the effort.

Please chime in if you can think of any other pattern companies that customise for small busts! Next week I will show you an EXXXXTREME Small Bust Adjustments using the standard method.  In the meantime you might find all these links handy: