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The French Dart | Full Bust Adjustment (FBA)

What is a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA)?

Sewing patterns are generally (and there are exceptions) drafted to accommodate a B cup. All Maven Patterns are drafted with a B cup. Unfair I know, but unfortunately, it’s just not possible for us to produce a pattern that will keep all body shapes happy, as we are all unique and the variations are limitless!

So, great if you are a B cup, but not so much if you are bigger (or smaller). In which case you might need to do a Full Bust Adjustment – FBA (or a Small Bust Adjustment – SBA). An FBA is a pattern alteration that will put a little more room in the bust area to accommodate a fuller bust should you need it, and if we are going to go to the trouble of making our clothes, might as well make them fit as well as we can!

Can’t I just go up a size?

You can, but the pattern will then most likely be too big across your shoulders and your back. What you need is more width and length in your pattern at the right place – to go over and around a fuller cup. The idea of the FBA is to do this without messing about with your armhole and sleeve and keeping a great fit in the shoulder.

How do you know if you need a full bust adjustment?

Your toile may be gaping at the armhole, will have drag lines pointing to the bust, and probably looks a bit ‘strained’ over the bust, your boobage just looks a little squashed in there!

Small Bust Adjustment side note: A SBA is basically the same process, but involves overlapping the pattern to reduce instead of spreading the pattern to increase the bust cup size. If you need a Small Bust Adjustment, there will be too much fabric over the bust area, and your bodice will be too long at the centre front.

*EDITED TO ADD* While the tutorial is illustrated with diagrams for an FBA, I have added an illustration for an SBA at the end of the first section.

Abbreviations |

FBA | full bust adjustment         SBA | small bust adjustment      CF | centre front          BP | bust point/apex

Equipment |

  • Copy of pattern (or the ability to re-print)
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Sticky tape
  • Tape measure
  • Paper scissors
  • Pattern paper

Which cup size are you?

Measure yourself while wearing the appropriate underwear. If you are going to wear a padded bra under your dress, go put one on first – it will make a difference to the fit.

Importantly, your cup size for a sewing pattern is not the same as your bra cup size. (I’m a B for a pattern, and wear a D bra)

  • Measure your HIGH bust across your back, under your armpits and above your bust.
  • Then measure your FULL bust, at the fullest part of your bust.
  • Note these measurements and the difference between them.
  • Difference of 1”  (2.5cm) = A cup (SBA)
  • Difference of 2″ (5cm) = B cup
  • Difference of  3” (7.5cm) = C cup (FBA)
  • Difference of 4” (10cm) = D cup  (FBA)
  • Difference of 5” (12.5cm) = DD cup (FBA)

Pick your size |

If you are above a B cup you’ll probably need to do an FBA and should select your size by using your HIGH bust measurement in place of your FULL bust measurement.

This is the most common and popular method, by far, because it will give a better fit in the shoulders and neck area, then you just do a Full Bust Adjustment and alter for a fuller bust. If, on the size chart, you have a size 16 full bust, but a high bust measurement of a size 12, chances are the shoulders of a size 16 pattern will be completely out of proportion for you! You may still need to adjust or blend between sizes for hips and waist.

How much to add?

It’s a bit of chicken and egg situation. There is no one way to do this alteration (or any alteration). It can be a little test and see, and a lot of getting to know your OWN body and how you like a garment to fit on you. Take these measurements as a guide. If you start googling this, you’ll find a lot of different advice and it’s not that any of it will be wrong – just different ways work for different bodies, garments and preferences. You just have to start somewhere to find what works for you! You’ll need to toile and test and tweak your alteration, maybe more than once. A toile is going to be your best friend – the fabric doesn’t lie! Also, consider the look of the garment, a looser fitting garment might not need as much adding as a very fitted garment. Or you might just decide you want more/less ease and adjust your FBA accordingly.

I’ve got 2 options listed below: Either toile and slash open to give an idea, or a bit of Maths. It is very much trial and error the first couple of times until you know what works for you.TOILE: Make a quick toile (just the body, don’t bother with sleeves, collar etc). Try it on and mark your bust point. Cut a cross in the fabric at your Bust Point / Apex, let it spread open and then measure how much extra you need. For an SBA, instead of slashing, pin the excess out of the bust. 

I like this slash and spread and see what you need method. Pay attention to the neck and shoulders of your toile, and see if they fit or if a size smaller/bigger would look better on you.

MATHS OPTION: Take your FULL bust measurement and minus your HIGH bust measurement = TOTAL FBA amount to add. DIVIDE TOTAL by 2 = the actual amount to be added to the pattern (Remember when you are adjusting the pattern you are working with HALF a body front so you’ll need to divide the total amount of extra needed by 2 before adding to your pattern).

Find the Bust Point (also called the APEX) |Find the Bust Point (also called the APEX) | The Bust Point (BP) or Apex is the most prominent point of your boob – usually the nipple. Bust darts point towards the BP but the dart tip is set back so not to create a pointy end. B cup patterns usually have the dart tip set back 1″ (2.5cm) from the BP, but you can adjust this to suit you.

  • Using a copy of your front pattern, mark the seam allowances so you know where the stitch line is. 
  • Draw a line through the centre of the bust dart, and extend it 1” (2.5cm) beyond the dart tip. That is the bust point (BP) of the pattern.

I’m inclined to say don’t worry too much about marking your own BP on the pattern yet because, as you can see from the picture above, the BP is going to move and drop anyway during your alteration. The FBA will make the dart drop around ¼” to ½” (6mm – 12mm) and if it’s too high we can adjust this later. If you are very low busted (the dart needs to be lower more than 1.5” / 3.8cm), you can lower the dart a little now, and then go back and get it perfect later. You’re going to need a toile to check the final position when you’ve completed the FBA. Draw the Lines |

  • LINE 1: Draw a line from the BUST POINT (BP) right down to the hem, parallel with the CENTRE FRONT LINE. Draw a line from the BP to a point about a ⅓ of the way along the armhole.
  • LINE 2: Draw a line through the centre of the dart to the BP.
  • LINE 3: Draw at a right angle from CF to intersect with LINE 1 (not crucial where).

Cut the Lines | 

  • Cut along LINE 1. Start at the hem and cut towards the armhole. Cut UP TO stitch line but NOT through it. Cut from OUTSIDE of the pattern up to the same point on the armhole stitch line, leaving a 3mm hinge of paper.
  • *If you hinge your armhole from the outside edge of the pattern instead of the stitch line, your armhole increases in length and then your sleeve won’t fit.
  •  Cut along LINE 2 through the centre of the bust dart towards the BP, leaving a hinge at BP.
  •  Mark sections A, B, C & D as in the diagram.

Slash & spread |

Place some paper behind your pattern pieces. Draw a CF line on your paper (shown in red). Anchor down section A and D with tape or pins (bear in mind, D will have to move again), lining up the pattern CF with the one you just drew. Draw a couple of lines to show the amount being added (the orange lines), keep them parallel with CF.

Open LINE 1 out the amount you need to add for your FBA, pivoting the pattern from the hinges at the armhole and BP. Keep SECTION C parallel the with CF. Let front section slide upwards and allow the bust dart to open wider to keep pattern flat.

Note how the hem is staggered and CF is now too short. Tape section A, B & C down. 

Cut open line 3, no need to leave a hinge this time. Keep CF in line and slide section D down so the hem is level again and tape.

SBA – Slash & overlap |

If you are doing an SBA you will be overlapping your pattern pieces rather than spreading them to decrease the width and length of the pattern piece.

Place some paper behind your pattern pieces. Draw a CF line on your paper (shown in red). Anchor down section A and D with tape or pins (bear in mind, D will have to move again), lining up the pattern CF with the one you just drew. Draw a line to show the amount being removed (the orange line), keep them parallel with CF.

Slide pattern piece C across to the orange line, pivoting the pattern from the hinges at the armhole and BP. Keep SECTION C parallel the with CF. Let front section slide upwards and allow the bust dart to close and become smaller to keep pattern flat.

Note how the hem is staggered and CF is now too long. Tape section A, B & C down. 

Cut open line 3, no need to leave a hinge this time. Keep CF in line and slide section D UP so the hem is level again and tape.

Redraw bust dart | Follow the original seam allowances and extend them to redraw the dart. Remember, the tip of a bust dart is usually 1” (2.5cm) from the BP, but this can change depending on you – it could be ½” (1.2cm) if you are small-busted and up to 3” (7.5cm) if you have a fuller bust.

A French Dart note |  This french dart has a slight curve on the seam as your body is round and not straight! The bottom seam stretches slightly onto the top seam, to help with the fit.

Toile | Now do a quick toile to check your alteration and the position of the bust dart in relation to your BP/apex. The most likely alteration now is you need to lower the dart or change the length. You can pin the paper pattern together and try it on to check the dart position first but keep in mind paper doesn’t behave the same as fabric and bust darts tend to drop a little more once they are in cloth. Not sure how to alter the dart?… The Lower a Bust Dart Tutorial will help with that!

The ‘Y’ Bust Dart Alteration| 

If you are adding more than 1.5” to half your pattern (3” TOTAL) this will help spread the joy. It helps because the bust dart doesn’t get as large, the disadvantage is that it does add more fullness above the chest, which won’t work for everyone. But the alternative leaves you with a very large bust dart and an extremely severe shape to your armhole, you can see a comparison of the methods at the end of the tutorial. The bonus is you can start to do the above FBA and then change your mind and do this one instead. Again toile to test for your body shape! Draw and Cut the Lines |

The method is exactly the same as before, but we draw one extra line (LINE 4) going from the BP up to hinge at the centre of the shoulder seam.

Cut along LINE 4 leaving a hinge at the shoulder seam, creating a new section called A2.

Draw the (orange) parallel lines in again the amount you need to add to your pattern (I’ve done 2″/5cm) and draw a line at half the amount too.

Place some paper behind your pattern piece. Anchor down section A with tape or pins. Pivot section A2 from the shoulder hinge and spread open half the amount you need to add. Tape A2 to hold. Keep LINE 1 parallel with each other and the CF, slide SECTIONS B & C, pivoting at the hinges, outwards and upwards to add in the full FBA amount, allowing the bust dart to open wider to keep pattern flat. Tape in place. 

Cut LINE 3 and slide SECTION D downward so the hem is level again. 

Tape everything down and redraw the bust dart and shoulder seam and smooth the armhole curve.

Toile to check your alteration and lower the dart or move the dart tip if necessary (How Lower a Bust Dart Tutorial)

Comparing the ‘Y’ Bust alteration|

 

For this example, I’ve added an extra 2″ (4″ total). You will get a slightly different result with each differing amount added.

On the left is with the ‘Y’ dart and on the right is without. You can see how large the bust dart on the right has become without using the ‘Y’ dart method – potentially that could be one pointy dart. But the real worry is that armhole shape, it’s just too severe to be a happy bunny later. Again take the time to toile and see what works for you, but I’m recommending giving the ‘Y’ dart method a try if you are adding over 1½” (3.8cm).

Sources |  I’m not affiliated, just very useful links!

Fit for Real People by Pati Palmer and Marto Alto 

Crafty FBA

Curvy Sewing Collective

Grainline Studios

Colette Patterns

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Lengthen or Shorten a Sewing Pattern Tutorial

How to Lengthen or Shorten a Sewing Pattern

This is just about the easiest pattern alteration to do!

You’ve probably noticed, many patterns have horizontal length adjustment lines marked on them to show where to alter the length. I don’t do that on my patterns, I prefer a cleaner look. It’s so easy to get in a muddle with too many lines everywhere and so simple to mark any length adjustments only if you need them. This straight forward tutorial will show you how simple it is to lengthen or shorten a sewing pattern, to help achieve a great fit.

Tools:

Your pattern (or copy of your pattern if you don’t want to alter your original)

ruler

pencil

tape

paper

 

Things to be aware of:

  • If you are doing lots of alterations to your pattern, do any length adjustments first.
  • Keep the grainline or “place to fold line” IN A STRAIGHT LINE, do not allow them to stagger.
  • The Chain Effect: when altering one pattern piece, also alter the corresponding pattern piece in the same way and remember to check they still fit together after your alteration. It is very annoying to end up with the front skirt longer than your back skirt!

STEP 1:

HOW TO LENGTHEN OR SHORTEN A SEWING PATTERN TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS-01Once you’ve made a toile, you’ll know how much and where you need to add or subtract length to your garment. You can just change the bodice length, or a skirt length or the sleeve, or all 3!

Draw an adjustment line horizontally across your pattern at a right angle to the grainline or to the “place to a fold line”

On a bodice: mark the line above the waist line but below a bust dart, and straight through any waist darts.

On a skirt (or skirt portion of a dress) below the hip line, but avoid any pocket details – no point making life complicated!

On a sleeve: half way along the underarm seam, unless it’s a fitted sleeve or has an elbow dart, then divide between two lines. (See “Good to Know” at the end)

Step 2:

LENGTHEN A PATTERN:

HOW TO LENGTHEN OR SHORTEN A SEWING PATTERN TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS-02Cut along the adjustment lines and separate the pattern piece.

Place a piece of paper behind your pattern and tape the top portion of your pattern to it.

Extend the grain line. Draw a line parallel to the your adjustment line the amount you need to lengthen the pattern by. Tape the lower portion of your pattern to the new line, matching up the grainline. Re-draw the seam lines so that they match up again, these may need to be curved or may be straight depending on your pattern piece. It’s quite usual to need to blend the new lines together, adding a bit to one and taking a bit off the other.

SHORTEN A PATTERN:

HOW TO LENGTHEN OR SHORTEN A SEWING PATTERN TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS-03Cut along the adjustment lines.

Place a piece of paper behind your pattern and tape the top portion of your pattern to it. On your pattern, draw a line parallel to the adjustment line the amount the pattern is to be shortened. Overlapping your pattern pieces, tape the lower portion of the pattern to the new line, matching up the grainlines. Re-draw the the seam lines so they match up again, in the same way as lengthening a pattern.

STEP 3:

Check your pattern pieces still fit together before cutting out your garment. Toile again if you need to!

Good to Know:

The Maria Wrap Apron: lengthen the straps

HOW TO LENGTHEN OR SHORTEN A SEWING PATTERN TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS-06

 

This is a great method to use if you need to alter the length of the straps of The Maria Wrap Apron too. Be sure to keep the grainline aligned as before, but you can just chop through the strap, spread the pattern the required amount and re-draw the edges with a straight line – all without changing the length of the angled edge that attaches to your apron! You will need to do exactly the same alteration to both the TOP and UNDER straps.

If you are lengthening or shortening a larger amount, you can spread the amount between two lines.

HOW TO LENGTHEN OR SHORTEN A SEWING PATTERN TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS-05On a bodice, for example, take the amount needed to lengthen and place half above the bust dart, and half below the dart, this will of course lower the bust dart a little, so be sure you want it lower!

On a skirt, especially a maxi skirt style, half could go through the skirt in two places, this will lengthen the skirt and keep the hem circumference the same as the original. Alternatively, use one adjustment line and extra length could be added straight to the bottom of the hem, but the hem circumference will get bigger.

For a fitted sleeve: Spread the amount between two lines one above and one below the elbow/elbow dart.

Now, do I always use this method for changing the length of every pattern? ( I’m 5’2″ so it’s always shorten, shorten, shorten)

HOW TO LENGTHEN OR SHORTEN A SEWING PATTERN TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS-04NOPE, I don’t! If it’s only a little bit, or a boxy shape I’ll just chop it off/add the extra on to the bottom of the pattern. That works just fine too in some cases.

I do hope you’ve found this tutorial useful, and can now confidently lengthen or shorten a sewing pattern.

Happy Sewing!

 

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The Original Maria….

MARIA THOMAS TEXTILES_MAVEN PATTERNS


MARIA THOMAS TEXTILES_MARIA WRAP APRON

This really is the most delightful Maria Wrap Apron I’ve seen. Let me tell you why…It’s made by THE actual Maria that the apron is named after! Oh, yes…my very inspiring friend Maria of Maria Thomas Textiles is a textile artist, screen printer and a very generous teacher. She wore the very first incarnation of the Wrap apron in her studio, where this image was shot, and you can see some of her work hanging behind her apron. As you can probably see, Maria works with found objects and recycled materials, often recanting the daily rituals of life within her work.

Her Japanese apron has been made from an embroidered table cloth, that she has rescued and hand-dyed indigo and given careful consideration to the placement of the embroidery. The edges have been bound as a facing wouldn’t have been a suitable finish in this case, and she has stitched all of that binding down by hand, because she is, in fact, a demon hand stitcher! She has worked with the fabric and squared off the back at the hem to make the most of the embroidered edge.

MARIA THOMAS TEXTILES_MARIA WRAP APRON

I met Maria by chance, our eldest children in the same year at school, me also with a 2-year-old in tow & Maria with one a year younger – we discovered we had a mutual love of denim and a hatred of cooking the tea so I think the friendship was meant to be! She talked me into doing a screen printing course that she was teaching, just 2 or 3 days, where we met Wendy (of the smock), who had coincidentally worked with my other friend from college that I had dragged along at the very last minute to cheer her up…funny how you meet your tribe isn’t it!? Well those 2 days, turned into a 4 year, 1 day a week print course, a couple of exhibitions and some very good friends. She is also the reason why I have paper spoons hanging in my kitchen, the occasional hangover, more fabric than is strictly necessary and the knowledge that making stuff is a way of life and I didn’t know I was missing it. Like I said…good friend.

MARIA THOMAS TEXTILES_MARIA WRAP APRON

Maria is currently working on her next exhibition and will be at the Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC in Birmingham, 17-20 March 2016 where you’ll be able to chat to her about her art, her inspiration and find out more about the amazing workshops that she runs.

Work from a previous Maria Thomas Textiles exhibition, nothing to do with me…I just wanted to share it! Now go be inspired!

Maria Thomas Textiles

Maria Thomas Textiles

 

Maria Thomas Textiles: The Blog

Maria Thomas Textiles: Facebook

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The Maria Wrap Apron UPDATE

The Maria Wrap Apron - PDF Sewing Pattern

The Maria Wrap Apron Update

Maven Patterns The Maria Wrap Apron

I’ve done a little re-vamp on the maker instructions for The Maria Wrap Apron.

I’ve added some hyperlinks – Wahoo! – so now if you are viewing your instructions on a screen you can get a direct link to the relevant tutorial if you need it.

I know a lot of you view your instructions on iPads or laptops while sewing up a storm, so hyperlinks can be really useful. Personally, I have to print everything as the computer/office bit/corner of the kitchen is downstairs and sewing studio is upstairs. Obviously, hyperlinks won’t work if you print your instructions as I have too… I’m good but I’m not that good 😉 I’ve also added some pretty colours, because Hey! pretty colours…well, why the hell not?

So just for clarity: there are NO CHANGES TO THE ACTUAL PATTERN OR HOW TO MAKE THE APRON, I’ve just added a few little pretties so the maker instructions have the same features that are already on The Wendy Smock instructions.

If you have already bought The Maria Wrap Apron PDF sewing pattern and would like an updated Maker Instruction file, send me an ETSY convo and I am very happy to email you one – for FREE!

What other features do you like to see in your patterns and maker instructions?

Lots of detail and explanation?

Or do you do the same as my friend Maria (the inspiration for The Maria Wrap Apron) She may (maybe) give the maker instructions a fleeting, cursory glance before completely ignoring them and doing her own thing, only going back to the instructions if necessary.  I’m with Maria (it’s why we’re friends, that and we bonded over how much we hated cooking the small people’s tea after school – it cut into valuable making time – true story. Beer and curry is also part of that story, but I’ll spare you that part…). I’m just firmly of the opinion there is more than one correct way to stitch anything, and you learn from each mistake. So ignore away if that works for you, or read every word and ask all the questions you like – it’s all good ladies!