The terms “plus size lingerie” and “full bust lingerie” are used interchangeably, but they mean two very different things. A person who is plus size can wear an A cup, and a petite person can be full-busted. I understand why the mix up happens. Full bust can be referred to as DD plus lingerie, and some people associate a larger cup size with being fat. Also, plus size lingerie can be referred to as full figure lingerie. In this blog post, I differentiate the two terms and how it relates to sizing Madalynne patterns (excluding Madalynne X Simplicity). You can purchase/download these sewing patterns here and shop the kits here.
In the lingerie industry, full bust is a cup size of D or larger. Don’t get this confused, or mix up, this term with ‘full cup’, which is type of bra style and is available in any size. Kate, pictured on the left in the image above, is full busted. On the other hand, plus size means a cup size of D or greater AND a band size of 40 or greater. Kari, pictured on the right in the image above, is plus size. So, a 34DD is a full bust, whereas a 42D is full bust AND plus size. So all full bust really means is that there is at least a 4-5″ difference between the ribcage and the full bust measurement.
Another reason for the mix up comes from not knowing how bra sizing works. The letter at the end of a bra size is the is the difference between the underbust (or ribcage) and the full bust measurements. An A cup has a 1” difference, a B cup has a 2” difference, a C cup has a 3” difference. However, a C cup is not a C cup is not a C cup. A person who wears a 32C and a person who wears a 42C will have very different bodies and breast shapes, even though the have the same bra cup letter. Basically, a bra size letter is relative to the band size. A 30DD breasts are full-busted, but they have the same bra cup volume as 32D, 34C, 36B and 38A breasts, none of which are full bust sizes.
Source: Parfait Lingerie
Full bust and plus size for Madalynne patterns
One of the most common emails I receive regarding sizing is from people who are full busted. When they measure their full bust and look at the size chart, they should cut an XL, 2XL or 3XL. They’re in disbelief – “but I usually wear a 32 or 34 band!” When I ask them what their underbust measurement is, it’s clear that they are full busted.
If there is at least a 5″ difference between the ribcage and the full bust measurement, I suggest cutting the the size you measure for the full bust and 1-2 sizes smaller for the back band (or the size your ribcage measures for the back band). This will give you enough coverage for the front, but also fit around your ribcage. Kate’s full bust measurement is 36″ and underbust measurement is 31″. The Eloise bralette she is wearing is a 2XL for the front bralettes cups and a medium for the back band.
For full busted people – I also suggest purchasing an XL, 2XL or 3XL size DIY lingerie kit. Having the power net lining and wider picot and strap elastics are essential for achieving good support and comfort.
When you cut a smaller back band, there will be a very minor pattern alterations (there are no changes to sewing). Even if you have no experience with pattern making, you can totally handle this!
Let’s say you cut a 2XL for the front bralette cups and a small for the back band. You will have to increase or decrease the height of the back band at the side seam. Which one you do – plus or minus – will be up to you. The wider back band (with the powernet and firmer elastics) will be more supportive. Depending on how small your back is, you may need to move the side seam forward (or towards the front).