Vintage Sewing

Move the bust gathers or no?

May 13, 2014

I’ve got a quick question for you all. I’m working on a dress right now form an early 40s pattern. It has bust gathers on the side-front panels along the princess seam. I gathered according to the marks on the pattern piece, but the position of the gathers once I tried it on seemed incredibly low to me. I shifted the gathers up about 1.5 inches on one side of the dress to see if that worked better, but can’t quite decide whether I should go ahead and stick with that alteration or just follow the original markings.

The gathers on the left in the photo are obviously the ones that I moved up. This has resulted in a slightly pointier bust shape, but also adds a little visual lift (which can’t hurt any of us, right?). The lower gathers keep a nice smooth line over the bust though, which is nice, except that it makes things look a little droopier (it sits a little more smoothly on me since my mannequin hasn’t nursed a baby and her bust sits a little higher).

So, keep them where they were and maintain the smoother line…or move them up on my actual bust point and deal with some kind of pointy boobs?


  1. I see why you moved them up – the right side seems a bit droopy. I think what you’ve done on the left will ultimately prove to be more flattering.

    What’s the pattern number? I’m curious to find a copy so I can see what’s going on in the illustration.

  2. the illustration seems to portray gathers centered over the apex. i would make any adjustments needed to achieve this.

  3. Move the gathers! Maybe if you go a little past the point it will smooth the bust point, but not sure. Darn those nursing boobs! I was told a good bra should keep the fullness of the bust between the elbow line and the armpit line when your hands are but your side. LOL, you will be checking everyone’s boobs out now!! Look forward to your end result, looks gorgeous.

    1. Haha! As a staunch member of the “everyone should be professionally fitted because they’re all wearing the wrong size bra” camp, that has been one of the most annoying things to deal with. I’ve been about 5 different sizes in the past year!

  4. I agree with the others; raise the gathers. Sometimes the drawings don’t really match the actual pattern, but this drawing does look more like the side with the raised gathers. We sure do give up a lot for our children! 🙂

  5. You don’t mention whether you’ve checked the neck-to-waist measurement in the pattern? I fit most 1940s size 16 patterns, but my neck-to-waist measurement can be shorter by an inch or an inch and a half. I find that I have to take that inch out of the middle of the bodice (not at the waist) in order to make 1930s and 1940s patterns fit me. This may help explain why the gathers are so low on your dress.

    That’s a really cute print, by the way! The dress will be lovely.

  6. I am a bra maker, so I look at everybody’s boobs all the time! Like, everywhere I go! Ha ha!

    You should move the gathers. I think you will actually grow to like that slightly pointier bust shape. I love it. It sort of redistributes the boob tissue visually, which makes you look slimmer and more proportioned.

    If it’s still too pointy for you, you can take a bit of that angle out of the front princess seam at the apex with your hip curve. I think you have enough ease in the garment to be able to do that and not alter the overall fit very much.

    I also have a low bust line (ahem, saggy tits!), and I ALWAYS have to do an FBA with a downward move of the bust apex point. Always. Definitely make sure your bra fits!

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