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How to Alter a Dress Bust. Fun & Easy Guide

The perfect dress for your special occasion does exist, but sometimes it may need some small (or not so small) changes to reach utter perfection. Don’t be sad when you notice a size imperfection, as it is a problem that is solved quickly and easily. Admittedly, it is essential to take care of the alteration as soon as possible, as there are some nuances to each altered piece. For example, the bust alteration is a massive topic of discussion because it has lots of challenges and tiny details. In this guide, we will share the tips, tricks and recommendations on how to alter a dress bust appropriately.

Before You Alter a Dress Bust

Before starting with all of the valuable information we will share today, we want you to understand the importance of proper bust alteration. Each body is different; the curves, the dimensions and everything is genuinely unique. In addition, each woman is built with a different set of sizes and angles; that’s why you should keep in mind that it is entirely normal for a bust not to fit 100%.

The fashion industry can’t possibly make 100% fitted items for everybody; that’s why alterations exist. So when for example, you are buying a dress for an “average-sized bus”, B or C, then in most cases, you are good to go. However, when there is a slight deviation from the average sizing, problems may arise. So what is the solution? Alter and Adjust a Dress Bust!

A small note: as nowadays the Fashion Industry emphasizes accessibility and fashion for all, it has become easier to adjust their production. The reason behind this is that people in the industry started to understand that there is no universal sizing, and there should always be room for alterations and adjustments. Fortunately, we now have the chance to customize any dress to our exact, desired sizing.

The adjustments of the bust begin with taking some measurements. In the best-case scenario, you will complete the task just by taking in the side seams. It’s an easy process as you will take equal measurements from both sides and take them in as needed. And voila, you have a perfectly altered dress. But if you are faced with an elaborate structure, you have to step up your game a little bit. So now, let’s start diving deeper into all the small details.

Making the Bust Smaller (Taking In)

As mentioned above, taking in from the side seams is an easy task. You just need to pay close attention to taking equal amounts of fabric from the sides. Once you complete the measurements, pay attention to taking more from the upper part of the bust than the bottom of the bust area. Write down your measurements on a piece of paper separating the Left and Right sides and start the task.

We recommend starting with pinning the measured area that is going to be cut out. Then, start working from the dress’s interior and carefully pull out the threads with a seam ripper. If your dress has hanging ribbons, make sure to adjust those accordingly. Now, start taking in according to the initial pins you have put when taking the measurements. Also, you can draw a measurement line if it is more convenient for you.

The next step is sewing the new measurements into the fabric and combining the two parts. Take out the pins and remove the marker’s spots.  Now you should have two matching seam lines, but those just in front of each other to continue the task. Make sure you don’t have untrimmed, raw edges.

Afterward, close the seams, turn the piece inside out and check the places of ribbons and new dress seams. Now, we are left with a perfectly adjusted bust of a dress that needed to be taken in. Now, let’s move on to our second-case scenario.

Making the Bust Larger (Letting Out)

If you are stuck with a dress that is too tight at the bust, don’t worry. It is also an accomplishable task. Begin with measurements of the bust, and don’t forget about your measurements as well. Analyze the dress and alteration opportunities. Check the seam allowance and if it’s sufficient in size, create a perfect plan of action.

If the seam allowance is enough for altering the bust to your measurements, start by adjusting the measurements of your bust and the dress. Then take your seam ripper and gently start removing the seams. Remember that you need to work the same techniques on four sides, front right and left, and back right and left. Finally, mark the location of the fabric that you decide to let out and put the parts of the dress back together.

Next, sew these parts back together, remove the marks and pins(if used) and try your significant alteration. See? It wasn’t that difficult to make the bust bigger, and you just needed more attention than in this case compared to taking in the bust.

How To Alter A Dress Bust

Altering a Pattern

Now that we have covered the basics of alterations, it’s time to learn about some challenging parts of altering a bust. When a pattern is present in the design, it makes your life a little more complicated but adds a stylish detail. So when you are stuck with a patterned dress, creasing, wrinkles, and other errors may occur. To avoid any issues of this kind, read on to find out the best practices of pattern alteration.

Again, we start with measurements. Repeat the measuring steps, the apex, the fullest bust part and right under the bust. Keep in mind to not hold the tape too tight around you; give yourself room to breathe. Next, compare the measurements you took with the pattern to ensure no errors with the design itself.

To fix the discrepancies caused by a bigger size, measure the dress’s fabric across the bust, paying attention to the armholes. Make your markings, pin the essential points and start the task. Sew the marked seams and take in as much as needed. Double-check the pattern’s position and perform the final adjustments.

In the case of letting out the bust, again, take proper measurements from both sides. Next, fix the tightness of the dress by adding pattern fabric. Pay close attention to three places; the armholes, the bust’s fuller point and armscye. Afterwards, add more material to adjust the sizing to your fuller bust. Sew the places of addition and voila. You have just undertaken a challenging yet very satisfying task.


To sum up, we want you to admire yourself for the work you have decided to undertake. Any altering task is a challenge, especially when you are not an experienced tailor. We truly hope that our tips made your alterations even slightly more manageable.

At first, it is easy to get scared of the bust alteration, as it is not an easy task. But with the allocated time, following the techniques, and perseverance, everything is possible. Keep in mind to always take proper measurements and work according to those.

Last but not least, remember that adjustments for bust are a widespread practice nowadays, and everybody has its unique sides. So, confidently take on the challenge and admire your work when you finish.