Anyhow, the big challenge with a lot of casual top patterns is that many of them are drafted for a B or C cup (with a few notable exceptions – BlueGingerDoll for instance is drafted for a D). For some people, that means they end up cutting the size to fit their bust but the rest of the top swamps them. For others like me (my 46″ bust scoffs in envy at your C cup), we’re totally sized out of most patterns.
But fear not! The Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) was invented by some busty genius to solve all your problems. And contrary to internet rumour, it really isn’t very difficult at all. There are a few different techniques, but today I want to share with you my favourite approach for wovens, and for knits
The Cashmerette Tried & Tested FBA for Wovens
I’m with the Fit for Real People faction, all the way. Their approaches are easy, and pretty much foolproof.
These methods work well for patterns like:
1) Darted top approach
Here are the step by step instructions for a darted top, using the Dove T from Sinbad & Sailor as the pattern:
1. Figure out how much width you need to do for the FBA. Easiest way: measure your full bust, and see how much bigger that is than the size you’re going to use. Divide that by 2 (because the pattern is half the front), and that’s how much width you need to add! Alternative method: measure your high bust (under your arms and over the top of your bust), use that size from the pattern, and add the difference between that and your full bust.
2. Mark in the dart on the pattern. Sinbad & Sailor indicate this through notches and a circle, so just join them up!
3. Mark three more lines: through the middle of the dart, from the end of the dart to the armhole (about 1/3 of the way up), and from the end of the dart vertically down.
4. Cut up the vertical line, and over to the armhole, stopping just before the seam allowance. Then, cut the seam allowance from the armhole side, leaving a little hinge (not the end of the world if you accidentally snip through!)
5. Cut through the line in the dart, again stopping just before the end to leave a hinge. Then tape down the left hand side of the pattern and “spread” the right hand side to add the width you need down the vertical gap. Keep that gap parallel all the way down! You’ll see that the dart “opens up”
6. You’ll find the right hand side is a smidgen longer than the left now, so cut a horizontal line through the lefthand side (anywhere) and slide the bottom bit down until the hem is parallel.
7. Trace it off, and voila, you have an adjusted pattern!
2) No darts top approach
Head over here to see my full tutorial on how to add darts, and do an FBA, using the Sew Caroline Tank Dress pattern.
3) Princess seamed top approach
Here I am going to send you to my fellow 46″ buster, Mary at IdleFancy who has put together a fabulous tutorial (which is particularly good for D+ busts), using the By Hand London Elisalex bodice.
The only potential danger of these approaches is that it does add width throughout the length of the garment, which can particularly be a problem for dresses or longer tops.
There are a few solutions:
– For a darted top, you can add a waist dart or fisheye dart to take the excess out from under your bust. The easiest way to do this is to pin out the excess when you’re wearing the top, and then transfer that into a dart. This is what I did with my Archer shirt, and it worked well.
– For a princess seamed top, before you do the FBA, cut off the top piece of your pattern at about an inch below your bust level. Do the FBA on the top part, then stick it back to the bottom piece and grade from the one size to the other. This is what I did on my coat, and again it worked perfectly, giving me extra room in the bust but tapering back in underneath
The Cashmerette Tried & Tested FBA for Knits
So the good news is that most of the time you don’t need to FBA knits due to the JOY OF STRETCH. However. Sometimes two things happen when you’re relying on stretch: the cat whisker wrinkles emanating from the armpits (busty ladies, you know what I mean, right?), and/or the front hem is significantly higher than the back hem because your chest is lifting it up.
But fear not! Because doing an FBA for knits is actually much easier than doing it for wovens, and it’s worth it for getting the perfect fit. The approach I use is the “vertical only” FBA, which has been covered in a few places before including by Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick and by Shams at Communing with Fabric (who has a wealth of other knowledge on FBAs, so check her out!).
This approach works for patterns like:
Basically, we’re going to just add extra length to the front to give us more material to go over our busts, and end up with an even hem.
1. Figure out how much length you need to add. Ideally you make up a muslin and see how much higher your front hem is sitting than your back. Me? I just add an inch. What can I say, I’m a rebel.
2. Cut through your piece at bust apex level
3. Move the bottom piece down the requisite length – here I added an inch to my Renfrew:
4. Curve out the side seam slightly to add a tiny bit of width (I added about 1/8 inch)
5. Now here’s the important bit. The front and back are now different lengths. When you come to sew them up, pin at the armscye and hem. Start sewing the seam at the bottom hem and work up the armscye. Then, about 4 – 5 inches below the armscye, start easing the front piece into the back piece (for newbies: this means start stretching the shorter layer so that it is the same length as the longer layer, holding it taut while it goes through the sewing machine/serger). By the time you reach the armscye the pieces should be matching.
Et voila! The only downside to this approach is you can’t do stripe matching under your arms, but I suspect there’s more to life than perfect stripe matching (no?).
OK, well I hope this has been helpful! Have you run into any FBA woes readers? I’m happy to consult!
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