Reducing the bust size on a princess seam dress.


Currently I am working on a princess seam dress with raglan sleeves for my youngest daughter. Next week she is going to a youth conference and needs a new dress.

While I was at our cabin, she called to ask me if I would make something for her, and of course I would. She chose the pattern herself (found it on This is the dress : Dress with Petticoat 09/2014 #111


Like most other adult patterns, this pattern would be too big in the bust area for her. She has the height of a woman, but of course being only 14 ½, is not so “well endowed” in the chest area just yet.

So, HOW DO YOU REDUCE THE BUST SIZE ON A PRINCES SEAM TOP??? It sounds really simple, (just take in the seams?) But NO, that wouldn’t work.

My little gray cells were having a field time trying to find a solution. On I am enrolled in a class called “adjust the bust” with Kathleen Cheetham. Se adresses reducing the volume of the bust size in a princess seam in Lesson 6, Chapter 4. But somehow I overlooked this and searched the internet for information.

After searching, I had two challenges. How to reduce the cup size (that is adressed in the craftsy class also)  and how to adjust the pattern pieces so the horizontal seam goes straight over my daughters bust point. In other Words, moving the bust point closer together.

My brake through came when I found a link to Threads magazine where they address this issue. . Wonderful, now I had a formula to work with. I had to try this out.

I decided this formula answered half my question. It shows how to reduce volume, but says nothing about bringing the bust pints closer together (With a smaller bust the bust points are closer together). Still I decided I would try. This is my solution, I am sure there are others, (maybe who are  simpler and more systematic?) But my method also worked 🙂


First, I found where the bust points were on the sewing pattern. I lay the pattern pieces flat on the table, aligning them according to the grain line and  and so they ligned up according to the Points they would be joined. I then marked the point where the pattern pieces meet.This is the bust point.IMG_8882

I divided the bust point measurement in two, since the pattern represents half the bodice front.

On the pattern, piece itself the bust points were 21 cm apart. I subtracted 15 cm (my daughters bust point measurement) and got 6 cm. I then divided 6 cm into two since I am working with half the bodice front giving me 3 cm.Even though I wanted to reduce this volume from the center front, I still needed the volume in the garment itself. I decided to move this to the “side front pattern piece”.

I cut allong the grainline of the center front and overlapped by 3 cm.


I drew the area I wanted to subtract fron the center front parallell to the grain line and overlapped these pieces. You can see the 3 cm I wanted to subtract marked With red. I then overlapped these pieces.


Then I drew up 3 cm on a separate piece of paper, cut the side front in two allong the grain line, and taped them to each side of the  the added  volume. volume. IMG_8893IMG_8894.


The side front and center front after inserting and overlapping by 3 cm.

One Challenge I met while working With this, was retaining the integrity of the origional pattern shape in the top and bottom parts of the pattern. I solved this by drawing the origional shapes of the origional front and center front pattern pieces before altering them.

Draw the shape of the shoulder slope from the center front and side front before alteration.

Draw the shape of the shoulder slope from the center front and side front before alteration.

The total shape of the center front shoulder seam and bottom edge of side front and center front pattern pieces befor alteration.

The total shape of the center front shoulder seam and bottom edge of side front and center front pattern pieces befor alteration.

I used this as a guide when trewing up the top and bottom shapes of the pattern pieces after I doing the alteration.


Now, finally I used the tip from threads.


I overlapped the center front by 1/2 an inch. In the side front I did a vertical cut and overlapped it so that I gradually went from subtracting 1/2 inch to nothing in the side.


All done :-). Now all I have to do is redraw the pattern pieces and true up the grainline!!! 🙂

Finnished and ready to sew 🙂









About sewingforfun

Have four children, am a nurse. Am presently at home during the days. Have been sewing since I was little, and I enjoy it.
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5 Responses to Reducing the bust size on a princess seam dress.

  1. Thimberlina says:

    Gosh, that’s a lot of work! I hope it all goes smoothly and the muslin fits!
    Have you had a look at Lekala – the Russian website where you put in your own measurements? There’s the chance to move bust points, allow for narrow shoulders and other things. I have a larger waist than bust and narrow hips, but I made a dress in February from them and it fit perfect – the second time! The under bust Seam line was too high on my muslin so I bought it again and chose the adjustment for lower bust points and it was perfect. They’re only £2 ish so cheap enough to do this. There’s loads of styles too.
    Sorry if I sound like I’m on commission from them, I’m not, lol.

  2. sewingforfun says:

    🙂 I understand perfectly what you are saying. 🙂 Yes, I have tried lekala and I most likely will again. I never thought I would ever get involved in pattern grading and such, because I just want to sew. But at the same time I want good results, so I am Learning and that is so satesfying. I was thrilled With myself when I pulled this of.- 🙂 and yes the dress fits perfectly. My first muslin of corse needed some help, but now I finnished the dress itself last night and I am very happy. I just have to make the cuffs, collar and underskirt and I will post 🙂

  3. prttynpnk says:

    Ok, I saw the title and thought, ‘oh, easy!’ Then I saw the sleeves- you had your work cut out for you! Thanks for explaining this process.

  4. Pingback: : Dress with Petticoat 09/2014 #111 from burdastyle | sewingforfun

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