Tag Archives: Figure Friendly Tops

Biu Biu Review

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Do you have trouble with Ready-to-Wear blouses with buttons that pop and gap? Do empire waists ride halfway up your bust? When you sew, do you have to do a Full Bust Adjustment? In knitting do you use short rows to accommodate your bust? If your bust is larger than a C cup, my guess is yes. The Big Four sewing pattern companies, knitting patterns, and most RTW clothing are based on a B cup. As you can see, you don’t have to be terribly large busted in order to benefit from clothing made with your bust in mind.

Luckily, several companies cater to the larger-busted woman. Colette sewing patterns are based on a C cup. Silhouette sewing patterns offer a variety of cup sizes. Ysolda Teague offers outstanding knitting advice and patterns for accommodating a large bust in her book Little Red in the City. Finally,  several RTW companies offer blouses and dresses for the woman with a large difference between the waist and bust. Unfortunately, many of these are quite expensive. Not so with Biu Biu.

I read about Biu Biu on Thin and Curvy’s blog — she has a wealth of information about fitting the bust, even if you are neither thin nor curvy. She provides a review of the company, including photos. Go see! Based on her review, I decided to give Biu Biu a try, and I was not disappointed. Far from it! The quality is fabulous, the fit is wonderful, and the prices are terrific, even accounting for shipping.

I ordered 5 items:

  • Vanity Fair long-sleeved white blouse
  • City short sleeved blouse in cappuccino and white
  • Hanoi knit top in bright green
  • Fuego knit top in raspberry (see photo above)

My total bill for 5 shirts, including postage, was $150. I paid about $27 in priority postage. I thought I was ordering parcel post for $16, but apparently not. As it turned out, I am glad it worked out this way because I got my tops in 10 days instead of 2 months. If we divide the postage evenly into 5 items, it adds less than $5.50 to each piece. I think $40 for the long-sleeved blouse seems very reasonable, especially considering similar tops list for $120 on other Not-to-Be-Named websites catering to the same target market. With postage, I paid $22 for a short-sleeved blouse and about $35 for each long-sleeved knit top.

Ok, let’s stop talking price now and get to the point! These tops all fit like a dream. I was nervous about having to ship ill-fitting items back, but I just found my measurements on the chart and crossed my fingers. I was on the cusp on the waist size, but since I have a little paunch, I decided to go to the larger of the two sizes for the waist. My waist is about 30″ (or 76-77cm) and bust is about 38″ (96cm). I chose the 40B for the woven blouses and the 40B/BB for the knit tops. The size was perfect.

Here is the City short-sleeved blouse. Side shots show no button popping! The Vanity Fair is the long-sleeved version with a little more flair at the hip.

I am very happy with the fit. The quality is also outstanding. The knit tops are made of soft cotton, and both have interesting details that make them more visually appealing than plain t-shirts. The Hanoi top does not have any gathering under the empire waist like Fuego does. Fuego is very full and would accommodate a wider belly, but it doesn’t have that pregnant look.

I recommend going to look at the Biu Biu site, even if you make your own clothing, just to see the styles. Biu Biu knows how to dress for a full bust. Their style is made for women like us, so the blouses are very flattering.

Usually t-shirts look like hell on me because they pull across my bust and my stomach, leaving a baggy area inbetween that hides my waist. Not flattering. I often buy a larger blouse than my shoulders really need because I can’t button them. Or I buy the right size, knowing I will always have to wear it unbuttoned with a camisole peeking out. Biu Biu takes all that into account. The shoulders fit, the waist fits, the buttons stay buttoned. Biu Biu offers dresses, blouses, and knit tops. There are a variety of colors, styles, sleeve lengths and collars to be interesting. I look forward to seeing their new offerings this spring!

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Are You Big Busted? Are You Sure?

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In the past I would have shaken my head a resounding, No. (No, I’m not big busted, and yes, I’m sure.) Now I’m learning it’s all relative.

I’ve been sewing for many years. Back in high school I was brave, and I would just buy a yard (one stinkin’ yard — Ha!) of interesting fabric, and then somehow fashion a top out of it. In college, I made several work-related garments, as well as curtains and house items. In grad school I made my first quilt. I’ve made wedding dresses, baby clothes, poncho coats for a wheelchair user, purses and pouches, etc. etc. When I decided to brush off my sewing machine again last year to make some summer clothes, I thought, I know how to sew. Measure yourself and cut out the pattern, easy.

Going strictly by the back of the envelope, I should have been making size 16. I found it hard to believe that I needed that size, because I wear an 8 in ready-to-wear. I know that the sizes are not commensurate, but in my estimation, I am a pretty small person. 135-140 pounds, 5’6″. A size 16 in patterns is a Large. In my experience, all big 4 pattern companies add wayyyy too much ease, so I made size 14. Wow, still so big around the neck and shoulders.

I realized I needed to make some alterations. I turned to the Internet, and I read my trusty sewing resource books. It was the first time I ever heard the term “Full Bust Adjustment”. I actually rather quickly flipped past this term, thinking, I don’t need that. That’s for really big busted women.

One of the resources I used was Nancy Zieman’s book Pattern Fitting with Confidence. Ms. Zieman uses a slash and pivot method that is different from the Palmer/Pletsch method of the FBA. She says to choose a pattern size based on the hardest to fit area: the shoulders. Her method includes measuring the front of your body across the chest from underarm crease to underarm crease. Mine was 13″, putting me squarely in a size 10 pattern. After choosing the base size, you compare your measurements to the pattern size and make alterations. That meant I needed to add about 7″ to the bust, and 5″ to the waist and hips. That seems like a lot of alterations. And if you need more than 4″ of change to the bust, you needed to make more complicated adjustments. This should have been my first big clue that my body was really different from the typical pattern. No wonder things weren’t fitting well. Still, I had a hard time believing I needed a Full Bust Adjustment.

I did more reading. Pattern companies and RTW base their sizes on a B cup woman. In other words, the full bust is only 2″ larger than the chest measurement. A woman doesn’t have to be terribly large busted to be 3″ or more different in chest than bust. I decided to pull out my tape measure to prove it. My chest measurement is 34, full bust is 38. Huh. Who knew? So Vogue Patterns instructions say I should choose a size based on my chest and then alter the pattern for a D cup. A “D”, eh? I could not believe it.

I don’t know why I was resistant. Maybe because I just have the same common misperception that most American women probably have based on shopping for bras at the department store. We are told 34C is the average. Jokes are made about large-busted women, wherein they are labeled “Double D’s”, and I don’t look like that, so how can I be bigger than a B? As I did more research, I learned about the bizarre practice of adding 4-5″ to your ribcage measurement in order to come up with the band size. I also learned that the average size in Great Britain is 32F. Well, what do you know?

A quick comparison will be educational, methinks. So a woman with a 31″ ribcage might be told in America to add 3-4″ to get 34″ for a band size.  If this same woman had a 38″ bust, she would be told to buy a D cup. (1″ difference between band size and bust measurement is an “A” cup, 2″ is a B, 3″ is a C, 4″ is D, 5″ is DD, 6″ is E, 7″ is F, and so on.) In Great Britain, the woman with the 31″ ribcage would be told to buy a 32″ band, and then with a 7″ difference between ribcage and full bust, she’d be put in an F cup.

The sizes are really not so different on the face of it. However, in the American system, we are putting most of the width of the bra into the back band instead of into the cups.

If your bra is always climbing up your back, consider a smaller band size and larger cup! Have your breasts changed? No. Should you run right out and start doing Full Bust Adjustments on all your patterns? Maybe. The point is to compare the size of the ribcage, the shoulder width, the waist measurement, and the full bust size. This should guide you in choosing a pattern size (and style) and in making necessary alterations.

Soon I will review a RTW company that specializes in clothing for the woman with a large bust-to-waist ratio. Even if you don’t consider yourself terribly big busted, this could be a coup for you!

More Patterns for a Full Bust

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Yesterday I wrote about pattern features to look for if you have a large difference between your ribcage and your bust measurements. I included an analysis of current Vogue blouse and top patterns. Today let’s look at other pattern companies.

Butterick

Photo

*B5678. This is a button blouse with princess seams from the shoulder. It includes customization for A-D cups, so an FBA is not necessary. Four views are shown, with varying collars, pockets and hem lengths. One view has belt carriers and a belt. (See artwork above, courtesy of PatternReview.com.)

*5609. Sleeveless knit top with empire seam. 3 views feature wrapped front, keyhole front, or one-shouldered style. May require FBA.

*5497. Another knit top with empire seam. Gathers at bust and shoulder could negate the need for an FBA. Three views show various necklines and sleeve lengths. Sleeves are cut-on style.

*5495. Knit top with multiple pieces to accentuate the bust and waist. Gathered at center front. Four views show varying sleeve and hem lengths.

McCall’s

*M6035. Blouse with princess seams customizable for A-D cups. Four views with different collars and interesting sleeve details.

Line Drawing

Simplicity

I have seen Simplicity 2614 done a few times now in Blogland, including Najah’s fabulous librarian blouse. Note the empire waist, and shoulder and bust gathers. This style could definitely work.

Sadly, I didn’t like anything else in this line. The empire waist tops all had gathers on the lower half, which makes me look pregnant: a look I don’t want to sport ever again. The blouses with princess seams all had bizarre collars or sleeves, in my opinion.

Pattern Wanties

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Since finding my sewing juju again, I have a serious case of the wanties. For patterns. I bought a shit-ton of fabric the other day; I’m waiting impatiently for it to arrive. Sadly, and against my better judgment, a lot of what I ordered was for patterns I don’t own yet! I can’t buy Vogue patterns at full price. I just can’t. And I want 6 of them, so I surely am not paying full price for all 6.

Biu Biu "Vanity Fair" white blouse with princess seams

Analyzing my Biu Biu purchases has shown me a few things regarding patterns. If you have a large difference between your ribcage measurement and your bust measurement, you may find the following tips helpful:

1. I need serious darting if I want to show off my figure better. Most store bought things I buy are sized up to get around my bust and belly, so they just hang on me, hiding my smallish waist. Check out the Biu Biu blouse’s shaping! All nipped in at the waist, with room where I need it.

2. Princess seams are very flattering.

3. Empire waists can also be figure friendly, as long as the lower part isn’t billowy with loads of gathers or pleats. While pregnancy is beautiful, it is not a look I am going for at this time.

4. I need to start doing a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) on my patterns. Patterns are cut for a B cup bust. I don’t care if you use American sizing with the +4″-to-your-ribcage measurement or the use-your-actual-ribcage measurement favored by the Brits. Either way, a B isn’t going to cut it. Vogue recommends measuring your chest (above the bust) and then measuring the bust. If there are more than 2″ between these numbers, do a Full Bust Adjustment.

5. Patterns that come with separate front pieces for A, B, C, and D cups are my friend.

6. While plain ol’ t-shirts don’t do me any favors, knits can be wonderful in the right style.

Here are my pattern ideas. I had a very hard time getting the pictures to copy over, so please link if you have interest.

*Vogue 8598. Blouse with princess seams from the shoulder. Shows 5 views (though I can’t figure out how B and C are different) including sleeveless, regular long sleeves, and gathered sleeves. This pattern would require an FBA.

*Vogue 8323. Have you seen K-Line’s version? Lovely! Knit top with princess seams from the shoulder. Shows 3 views including sleeveless with an overlapping neckline, 3/4 sleeves with a cowl, and full sleeves with a deep u-neckline. This pattern may require an FBA, but it is knit, so it may not.

*Vogue 8634. Knit top with empire waist. The lower part of the shirt doesn’t have any gathers. The top features 3 views with varying sleeve lengths, all with a cowl neck and raglan sleeves. May or may not require an FBA.

*Vogue 8649. Knit top with cut-on kimono sleeves and empire waist. This pattern has separate pieces to custom fit A-D cup. The top part of the front has bust gathers; the lower part is smooth. The top has 3 views (B and C are the same but show fabric requirements for color blocking) showing short or 3/4 length sleeves.

*Vogue 8747. Blouse with custom fit for A-D cup. Pattern features princess seams from the armscye. Front panel has sideways bust gathers eminating from the button band. Various collar styles and sleeve lengths are shown in 5 views.

*Vogue 1275. This is a Sandra Betzina Today’s Fit pattern for a knit top with interesting seaming, ruching, bust darts and shaping. Short and long sleeves are shown in 2 views. FBA may or may not be needed.

Look for reviews of other pattern companies in future posts.