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Tips For Plus Size Dressmaking & Alterations

Updated: Apr 17

There are many ways to add support to a gown when designing and altering for plus size clients. This post mainly focuses on how we can provide bust support and waist flattering details. Below I’ve attached a few videos to check out on my channel in addition to these tips.

There is no "one size fits all" approach to provide support for larger sizes and fuller bust.

However, here's a few tried and true ways I add covert support to my clients gowns.


-Corselette's are perfect, especially for strapless designs. I created this corselette for a plus size client with her custom gown, you can also create this garment separately. You will need to get creative as far as how you place the corselette in the dress. I often create belt like loops, corresponding straps, or small hand tacks to keep the corset in place.

Here's her sketch, it required a lot of support as her bust area fabric was a silk fabric (very soft) and her upper bodice/shoulder design was sheer lace. I opted for an internal corslette with a series of hook and eyes and wrapped the bra straps in the matching silk fabric so they didn't stand out and she kept her Illusion look. You can also purchase or ask your client to purchase a ready to wear corselette. However, be advised that it really depends on the style of dress because you don't want it to be obvious. Which is why I opt for creating custom ones for all my gowns.

See the video playlist below to see I what did to create this one.

Corset in dress view

Internal Corset

Internal corsets are also great for adding a more dramatic waist and getting the corset look even if the dress is not a corset style dress. The design is pretty much just creating the last two mirroring patterns on a standard corset. and attaching it to the side seam lining.

Need the pattern? Its available here in sizes 0-20

Disguise Bra Straps

The on going pattern is that for dress designs that have softer fabric that doesn't provide a lot of support on its own, means that it is up you the designer/seamstress to create the right infrastructure to make sure the dress remains flattering.

For this design I had the client wear a her own smooth spanx type shape wear. I added plastic boning to the lining in the bodice area and she wore a bra, (smooth finish mold with underwire). To ensure she could wear everything without the bra straps showing I worked these straps into the design.

Create A Corset Style Gown

Although the design shown here is not plus size, this technique is still a great way to provide support, and the possibilities for how a corset style bodice can be design to meet personal style is pretty endless. I have complete 1 hour start to finish easy to follow tutorial on my channel of how to create the corset bodice. You can also purchase the pattern to this instruction here.


Custom Bra Cups

Most mass produced cups only go up to a certain size (no matter what the label says) so I also create custom cups to ensure the client has options. You can use these cups in a variety of ways. Here's two ways;

-Place in gown for general coverage

-Use when creating custom corsetm or corselette

Here's video on creating custom cups. Head here for playlist, with other helpful videos including the popular All About Cups video.


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Built In Bra

Purchase a solid black, white or nude bra with good support and molded cups. No pattern or lace details. Using tacks, or bra loops you can attach this to the inside of a dress. I have my clients purchase one similar to this.

Waist Stay

Adding a waist is another way keep the dress up, supported and in place. Plus it is perfect for all sizes. It can even act as a mini corset snatching in the waist. It is also a lot quicker to make.


-Boning is an important aspect of creating support and structure to a gown. There are at least 3 types, I've come across so far in my time of being a dressmaker.

First Photo; Metal Boning- Its stiff and offers a lot of support, however you'll need to have a variety of lengths, because when cut it leaves sharp edges.

Second Photo; Plastic or Whalebone- Its easy to get, most commonly used type of boning. However it bends under pressure and can warp poking out of the dress, if there's too much pressure on certain parts. You can offset that by just adding more boning of possible.

Last Photo; Spiral Metal Boning- Perfect for corsets, you can cut it to length and it is flexible (I have never use this myself so I can not speak to the con's of this type of boning)

If you do use plastic boning you’ll need to add many more channels for a better support at least 20.

Here's an example of where you can place more channels for boning

If you are viewing this as a seamstress, I encourage you to always speak with your client about their desires and be realistic with them about the possibilities available for their outcome. There can be instances where the dress design just will not work, but with these tools and tips you can offer reasonable options for amazing results!

Jasmine Terry-Ankobil owner and operator of LAIDIECLOTH fashion house, where I create custom designs and perform alterations for formal occasions. &Online Couture Sewing School LAIDIECLOTH U. Please feel free to share this article and/or visit my site

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