Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Full Bust Adjustment, aka FBA

Welcome to the second part of our Bust Adjustment extravaganza, a companion to the 3/22 Petite Bust Adjustment (sometimes called an SBA) where we featured the lovely Parfait Dress by Colette Patterns. Most commercial pattern companies out there draft for a B cup, so if you are not a B cup you'll need to make some changes in the pattern for it to fit your body better. This is really the essence of making your own clothes - you can be technically proficient but if things don't fit right it's not going to look good!

There are a couple of things you can do to make the bust area fit better - you can add a dart where there isn't one, you can increase an existing dart, or you can add more fabric to the gathers, tucks or pleats that shape the fabric like a dart. I'll be going through the steps to add a dart in this tutorial and follow up shortly with the other two methods. For the third method - gathers, pleats or tucks - I'll use the Parfait Dress again cause it's so pretty!

We'll start out using the same method for figuring out your cup size as we did previously - remember that your cup size for a pattern might be different from your bra cup size. First, measure around the fullest part of your bust:

Then measure your high bust - under the arms and over the bust across the ribcage:

The difference is what makes your cup size:

  • 1" or less: A cup
  • around 2": B cup
  • around 3": C cup
  • around 4": D cup
  • around 5": DD cup
  • etcetera!

I wear a DD bra but make a pattern adjustment for a D cup because I have a 4" difference.

We'll need the same patternmaking supplies:

  • Extra paper - pattern paper or copy/printer paper
  • a sharp pencil - a mechanical pencil is best
  • 2 x 18" clear ruler
  • clear tape - the matte kind you can write on
  • push-pin type thumbtacks
  • a vary form curve or hip curve ruler

1. For most patterns, pick your size closer to your high bust measurement. This will make the shoulders fit properly and we'll be adding fabric around the bust only. I'm using KWIK Sew #3555, the pattern that we use in our Button Down Shirt class. It's got 4 - 5" of ease at the bust - that's pretty loose fitting! I picked a size small because I want this to be a relaxed shirt. If your hips won't fit into the small size, use your curved ruler to draw a new line at the side seam from the natural waist to a larger size at the hip - make sure you match this line on your back pattern piece!

2. Hold the pattern piece up to your body, lining up the center front and shoulder seam. Mark the bust point.

3. Draw three lines on the pattern - one: from the bust point to the hem, parallel to the grainline. Two: from the bust point to the side seam perpendicular to the grainline. Three: from the bust point to the arm curve.

4. Cut on the lines, first up from the hem to the bust point, then pivoting to cut to the arm curve. Leave a little paper still attached to make a hinge. Then cut from the side seam over to the bust point leaving another hinge.

5. On another piece of paper, draw a straight line then a second parallel line. The distance between the lines is as follows: for C cup - 1/2", for D cup - 3/4", for DD cup - 1". I'm half-watching "Gleaming the Cube" while typing this up and I keep getting distracted by Christian Slater... Tape your pattern down to the new paper along the lines, separating your first cut and smoothing out the paper from the hem to the bust point then from the bust point to the arm curve.

6. The bottom edge at the hem will now be two different lengths. Usually, I would add paper to the center front edge because a full bust needs the extra length, but I know that this shirt is already longer than I wear them so I'm cutting off the extra from the new cut to the side seam.

7. Now to form the new dart: first, draw a new line from the bust point to the side seam perpendicular to the grainline. Then, measure the distance that the pattern spread apart at the side seam when you taped it down (dart width) - this will be a different amount depending on what size you are using.

8. Measure the dart width from the new perpendicular line down and mark it. Mark the apex (the point) of the new dart 1 to 1 1/4" away from the but point (smaller for more fitted, larger for less fitted). Draw in the new dart:

9. Measure from the new dart apex the same amount down each new dart leg and make a mark. It doesn't matter what the measurement is as long as the marks are close to the side seam somewhere. I had no idea that Tony Hawk was in this movie! Cute! Fold the lower leg of the dart up to the upper leg, matching your marks and tack in place. Use a curved ruler to smooth out the side seam.

10. Use a pin to perforate the side seam through the folded dart to draw in your dart extension.

11. Cut out your new side seam! I drew in the new dart with a Sharpie so you could see it clearly. If my patternmaking teacher (the amazing Linda Faiola at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education) is reading this, don't despair! I would never use a Sharpie for patternmaking - pencils only folks.

Hooray for darts! I'm going to make my shirt out of an Anna Maria Horner voile - I love Diamond Mine in Ink. Next on the list is "Rock-n-Roll High School" and two variations on this theme, so stay tuned!


marLou said...

OMG!!! This actually made sense to me. I can't even explain how this is such a big deal to me. I am new to sewing so I read hundreds of stuff in blogs, books, people have given me tips, etc. and always left with a ten million unanswered questions. I am just not getting what seems to be the basics for most sewers. I still have many things to work on but your step by step made freakin' sense. I probably sound like a crazy person but when the light at the end of the tunnel is somewhat brighter, it's a happy day! Thank you for the post!

Unknown said...

I'm so glad you like the post! It can be really overwhelming when you start to learn how to sew - not only are you new to the actual construction techniques, the process of fitting can seem really daunting too. I hope to shed more light on the fitting process in this blog!

SueBK said...

My pattern has no dart as it's supposed to be rather square fitting. There's a slight gather of the front between two spots on the side seam.

I'm thinking maybe (given I'm large busted) I should add a dart. Too much gathering would look a little hokey; particularly in the fabric I'm working with. Shiny poly satin look stuff (horrid to sew, but lovely to look at :-)

Any suggestions?

Katie said...

Thanks for this. I had been trying FBA with the increase based on the difference between center front (pattern) and center front (me) and the difference was quite a bit and I was swimming in the muslins (bust would be roomy but all right, but the rest was too much). Also tip with marking the new dart with pinprick is great.

Claire (aka Seemane) said...

To SueBK re: How to Add a Bust Dart - try these pages from The Perfect Fit book:-

You need the top 3 photos (numbered 1.),2.) & 3.)) from the top of page 76, then you need to scroll down the page to see the top of page 77 for photos 4.), 5.) & 6.).

Best wishes,
Seemane :)

nylon spandex fabric said...

nice blog,thank you for share

Anonymous said...

Could you please check the pictures in this post. Great instructions but no pictures are showing.

Justine of SewCountryChick said...

Thanks for this tutorial . I am working on a FBA on a Colette Oolong pattern.

Kady the Red Panda said...

I know this is old but I have to say thank you very much! I'm a DD/E and I really needed this tutorial. I especially love how clear the instructions and visuals are. It makes much more sense than the sewing basics book I bought when I was thirteen.

You rock!

Anonymous said...

Best explanation I have ever read for the Full Bust Adjustment. I had learned how to do the spread, but not how to redraw the dart legs. If there is a spot on to recommend How To...articles, I will put your page URL in there.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the FBA tutorial with pictures.

Anonymous said...

This tutorial is exactly what I've been looking for.. Thanks so much..

I just have one question, how did you know how much to spread the original side dart by? I understand that you spread the first cut by how much you need to compensate for eg 1 inch for DD, but how much do you spread the side dart by?

Thanks so much,
Dean x

Anonymous said...

Pin the section next to the Center Front, so it will not move. When you spread the cut you made down the Front for the 1", you want to keep the two edges of the cut parallel -the 1" all the way down from the bust point.

To keep the 2 edges parallel, the side with the dart in it will drop down slightly. When the bottom half on the dart side drops down, your dart opens up wider and that makes it the size you need.

When I was trying to learn about darts, it helped me to use a piece of scrap paper to see what happens before I cut my pattern. Draw a basic shape Front pattern piece on a scrap of paper. It can be doll clothes size. Draw and cut the lines for the dart and Full Bust Adjustment. Now you can cut and spread and see the results.

li said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sewing by Shirley said...

This is awesome!! This is the first time I have understood how to do it. I just altered my front bodice and tried it out with a muslin; it worked!! I forgot to add the new length generated by my adjustment to my back bodice, so now I have to do that. That would be the only adjustment to the back, right? Just measure the distance from the new length on the top and add that to the bodice back?

rachelmp said...

This made sense to me - a lightbulb moment. So happy and I am going to try making a shirt that has been on my wishlist now. Thank you!

sdBev said...

Thank you for posting these instructions. They are complete and easy to understand. I know now how to do this alteration

Bella-Boutique said...

Brilliant Brilliant. I have been wondering how to do this (as opposed to just adding in a bust dart like I usually do and now I reckon I'll be able to. Thank you so much. I'm a FF and am sick of looking at patterns but knowing that unless they have a gather around the bust I can't have them because they'll look terrible and now the World is my Oyster! Thankyou, Thankyou, Thankyou

amandajewls said...

Fabulous instructions that made the mystical FBA make actual sense to me!

I would add:
5. On another piece of paper, draw a straight line then a second parallel line. The distance between the lines is as follows: for C cup - 1/2", for D cup - 3/4", for DD cup - 1", for E cup - 1.25" (1 1/2"), for each additional cup add another quarter inch to the increase. I'm an F cup and did the DD 1 inch increase - but needed another half inch I think. But AMAZING information - thank you so much for putting this up!

Poppyprint said...

Thank you so much for this easy to interpret tutorial. I am a quilter, not a garment maker. Today I managed to effect an FBA on the Wiksten Tank pattern, so I can correctly make myself a great-fitting size M, instead of a massive size XL to accommodate my girls. Thank you!!

Lisa said...

I have a totally stupid question. I'm working on the Scout tee pattern from Grainline Studio and the pattern doesn't have a dart to begin with. To do an FBA would I draw a brand new dart as stated here or just skip that part?



Anonymous said...

Hi...Just getting back into sewing and having problems with FBA. Your tutorial is so helpful ,thank-you. Just not clear on the new dart legs. I'm thinking the top leg is the line that was drawn to the newly marked apex and 1 1/4" away from bust point but how do you determine where to put the bottom leg? Is the original dart ignored completely? Thank you for any help you can give.

Catherine said...

Thank you! However, I still want to take a class at your store. :)

Anonymous said...

OMG! I finally get it! Finally. This tutorial was the best I have ever seen for a FBA. Thank you so much. I am going into my sewing room, and adjusting that blouse that I love, but just did not fit. Thank you for all of the tips. I have lost a lot of weight, and I used to just sew rectangles. I was a big around as I was tall! But now with the weight loss, I sew darts, and curvy side seams, and all kinds of fun stuff. I am a C cup, size 14-16 on top, and size 22 on my hips. Learning to sew with this type of difference has been very hard. My bottom is flat, but my tummy isn't. Necklines were gaping, but if I sewed to fit the neckline, to tight over the tummy. With this adjustment, and the little line you threw out (use your ruler to add more to the waistline or hipline if you need it, and don't forget the back piece), I get it. Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

Your instructions are wonderfully clear and have been put to use frequently.

Now I have a new challenge...what does one do when the grainline is not parallel to the centre front? I need to do a substantial FBA for a 5-6 inch difference (DDDD cup) on Butterick 5786, a loosely fitting asymmetric hem shirt, which has a grainline at approximately 45 degrees to the centre front. I do not want to make the shirt 'swim on me' so would like a well-fitting bust and shoulder area to offset the movement below.

Could you suggest how to adjust your method for alternate grainlines, or do I just go ahead and follow your method?

Your advice would be MOST appreciated

Unknown said...

Really wonderful share.I truly appreciate your good work.

Unknown said...

Could you show how to adjust the pattern using your block or sloper?

Fearless Warrior said...

Any chance you could upload the pics again? They aren't showing up on IE or Chrome OS.

Anonymous said...

Hi - I'm also not able to see the pictures. Could they be reloaded please? Thanks x

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Hifalna said...

Just commenting because it may help somebody else: if the pictures aren't visible to you, they were still visible for me on the wayback machine:

Thanks for the tutorial, it is very clear and easy to understand! I'll try it soon :)

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