Summer Bustier

Pattern: self-drafted
Fabric: vintage cotton
Price: $12

Ah the search for the perfect bustier.

Looking through my pattern stash, I have been pursuing the holy grail of bustiers for some time now. I completed this one just in time for Coachella and the summer festival season. But it has not been an easy road...

Vogue #V1174
My first attempt at a bustier was with Vogue #V1174 in 2010, with its bust seams and piping. I have seen many sewists make this up since, but personally I think it flattens out the bust of a small girl like me. It became a monster dress instead.

Vogue #V1227
Next I bought Vogue #V1227. This one had a vertical bust seam that I think is much more flattering than a horizontal one, which tends to compress the boob. And look how well it hugs the model! Alas, I'm a 32" chest size not a 34", and this pattern required major alterations. It became a bathing suit instead.

Unrelenting in my quest, I recently bought Kwik Sew #3166. After all, this is made to be a well-fitting bustier, and what could be easier than Kwik Sew? This pattern became the base of my top, but had to be altered considerably. I used a woven fabric (this is a stretch pattern), but only had to make it slightly larger. The cups, as usual, were the main problem. I completely discarded the Kwik Sew horizontal seamed cups in favor of the vertical Vogue ones, and then the real alterations began. Even after making up my muslin and cutting pattern pieces, I still had to make a great deal of changes on the final cups. In addition to shortening the overall garment to that of a bustier top, I also made the back taller to better support the bra cups.

The other trick I found is actually in sewing on the bra cups. Because there is such a curve to my pattern, it doesn't work to sew right sides together. Instead, I found it is better to fold under the raw edge of the garment and sew it on top of the bra cups.

The final version is made in a vintage cotton print from the Alameda Antique Faire, and lined in the same fabric. I also inserted underwire, though it is a little too short for this design. The straps are made out of bias tape because I was too tired and had too little fabric. The back has a four button closure, which took a lot of experimentation to figure out. For my next version, I plan to give myself a little more breathing room (perhaps with a stretch section), but other than that it fits pretty much perfectly!

You can ready my review of this pattern at


  1. What a story! :) Anyway, the bustier looks great!

  2. Well done, altering bra cups is no easy feat.

  3. You look so stylish! All that effort and trial and error came out well in the end!


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