Good afternoon, friends! Earlier this week, Sophie-Lee debuted her gorgeous take on Sewaholic’s Granville blouse. Like her, I was instantly smitten with Tasia’s newest patterns, the Granville and the Oakridge. Both patterns are beautifully designed, rife with perfect details and thoughtful drafting decisions. Unfortunately for me, they’re also designed explicitly for pear-shapes. With measurements of 46-35-46, I’m a textbook hourglass, which can make tackling patterns designed for small busts a challenge. This hasn’t stopped me from buying Tasia’s patterns before, however. I love her aesthetic so much that I’ve talked myself into nearly every Sewaholic release! They sit on my pattern shelf, waiting for me to hack their proportions to bits.
For the Granville, today is that day. Or, rather, Tuesday and Wednesday were those days. The Granville has everything I’ve dreamed of in a button-down blouse: tower plackets, back princess seams, waist shaping, and a two piece collar. It was one Full Bust Adjustment away from becoming my platonic blouse. Like most darted button-down shirts, the Granville bodice only has a side dart, which makes the process of an FBA a little more complicated. However, don’t fret! I’ve fully documented the process for this adjustment, which you can use on any bodice pattern with one dart, not just the Granville and Oakridge.
Pick Your Size
Before we trace off our patterns and slash away, we need to pick a base pattern size. The rule of thumb for this is to pick a size based on your high bust measurement, instead of your full bust measurement. (For more information on obtaining these measurements, check out Tanya’s fantastic Beginner’s Guide on the subject!) If your high bust, waist, and hips don’t fit in one size, it’s completely normal to grade between sizes. My own current measurements put my high bust at 42, which is smack dab between sizes 16 and 18. I know that I have narrower-than-average shoulders for my size, but that I like a little extra ease through my bust and hips. As such, I traced off the size 16 upper bodice, then blended to a size 18 from the armhole down. This also enables me to take a slightly smaller FBA, since the 18’s bust measurement is 43 inches. Remember, a lot of fitting comes down to personal taste about such things! People arrive at their perfectly fitted garments through many routes, because there are adjustments for everything. This is just our jumping off point!
Prepare Your Pattern & Gather Supplies
Before you begin this FBA, you’ll need a clean tracing of the front bodice. I use Swedish Tracing Paper (available on Amazon), which is also sewable, if you need to do a mid-adjustment fit-check. When tracing off your pattern piece, be sure to include all markings, including the grainline and lengthen/shorten line. Once you’ve finished marking the pattern, hold the piece up to your body and mark your bust apex on this. If this point is substantially higher or lower than the pattern’s dart tip, I recommend moving your dart higher or lower, before proceeding. Dart tips should on the same horizontal plane as your bust apex, so that things don’t get all pointy! If there’s only a little difference, this is fixable during the FBA process, since we redraw our dart anyhow. However, if it’s more than 1/2” off, it’s best to take care of it early.
Now, gather your supplies:
1. Clear Tape
3. Clear Ruler
4. Pattern Weights (I use giant washers!)
6. Scrap Paper
Isolating the Bodice
Before we start our actual bust adjustment, we need to separate the bust of our pattern piece from the waist and hips. If we do the traditional FBA method, all of the width we add to our busts will also get added to our waistline and hips. We want to keep the waist and hip measurements from our traced bodice, so the blouse doesn’t lose all that lovely waist shaping. The way we do that is by adjusting only the bust area! Easy, right? Let’s start marking…
Draw a line three inches above the Granville’s lengthen/shorten line. If you’re using a different pattern, mark this line about one inch above the smallest point of the pattern’s waist curve. We want to preserve the waist’s curve inward, so that we can true up the lines later, when we rejoin the pattern. You’re going to end up with two parallel lines running the full horizontal length of your pattern.
Along that top line we just drew, cut the pattern clean in two! Set the lower portion aside, until we’ve finished this adjustment.
Voila! We have an isolated bustline. Now, we’ll add width and height to our bustline, without compromising the fit everywhere else.
Drawing the FBA Lines
If you’ve performed an FBA before, you’ll be really familiar with this next set of instructions. Once we’ve detached the lower bodice, we perform a standard FBA, just like we would in a two-dart bodice. We’re going to slice our bodice at key points around the bust apex, move them, and tape everything down again. Let’s start drawing in our cut lines, shall we? As you can see below, I’ve drawn in the standard lines on this bodice in pencil already, however I’m going to walk you through each line. When it’s time to mark that line, I’ll highlight it with a bright digital line, so you see everything clearly.
First off, we’re going to draw Line #1, shown in red above. Simply start at your waist, directly below your bust apex, and draw a vertical line up to your bust apex dot. (For some reason, I drew my pencil line through the dot and to my shoulder, which is unnecessary for this adjustment. Ignore that! Just draw up to your bust apex.)
Next, we’re going to draw Line #2 from your bust apex dot to your armscye, about 1/3rd of the way down from your shoulder. This is shown in bright green above. We don’t go any lower than 1/3rd of the armscye, because that can cause the armhole to distort too much!
Now, we’re going to draw Line #3 through the middle of our bust dart, to the apex point. There are two common bust dart orientations: pointed directly at the apex, or coming at it from an angle. If you’re working with a pattern that has a dart pointed smack dab at that apex, rejoice! Just draw a straight line through the dart, to the apex. However, many shirt patterns use an angled dart, for a more flattering fit. The Granville is one such shirt, which means we must draw a line through the middle of the dart, then pivot at the dart tip, and draw a horizontal line to the bust apex. You can see this little turn in the line, above, in bright blue. So easy, right? We just have one more line to draw!
For our final line, we draw a straight line across the pattern, one inch up from the waist. This is shown in purple above. (Mine is kind of distorted in the picture above, because of the camera angle, but it should be one inch up across the whole pattern!)
Slashing Our Pattern
Woohoo! It’s time to bust out those scissors and start cutting away.
For our first cut, we’re going to cut up through Line #1, pivot at the bust apex dot, then continue along Line #2, stopping just before the armscye. We stop before the armscye, so that a paper hinge is formed. That hinge is going to let us add width to the bustline, without messing up our upper bodice. Cool, right?
Next, we’re going to cut along Line #3, stopping just before the bust apex dot. That’s going to give us another little hinge to play with!
Brief Interlude of Math
Now that your pattern piece is all hinged, we can add in the fullness needed to compensate for our full bust measurement. How much extra room do you need, however? There are a few ways to determine how much extra fullness you need, but I go with the simplest version. How much difference is between your full bust and the stated bust measurement on the pattern size? Since I’m using a Size 18, with a stated bust measurement of 43 inches, there is a three inch difference. (Stated measurement: 43 inches; My full bust: 46 inches) That means I need to add an extra three inches to the bodice pattern!
Since a bodice pattern piece is only half of a full bodice, however, this means I’m making a 1.5-inch FBA.
3 extra inches needed ÷ 2 bodice halves = 1.5 inch FBA
(Extra Room Needed ÷ 2 Bodice Halves = FBA width)
Now, let’s start moving things around
Spreading our Pattern
One of the biggest questions I get asked about FBAs is where exactly we add our fullness in. Luckily, the answer is our easiest option: we add it directly to our vertical red Line #1. To do this, secure the center front of your pattern piece, then spread your hinged lower bodice down and to the right. Being careful to keep the slash along Line #1 straight, spread your pattern piece out until there are 1.5 inches* separating the split Line #1.
See how your dart and armscye have also moved to accommodate your new Line #1? That’s exactly what we want. Now, make sure every part is laying flat and your split Line #1 is still straight, with 1.5 inches separating it all the way down, then put pattern weights all over the place!
*Use the measurement you got from our Math Interlude. If you’re doing a 2-inch FBA, spread it 2 inches, and so forth.
Next, we need to cut our final line. Keeping your main bodice in place, cut along and clean through Line #4.
Move that new piece down, so that both parts of Line #4 are even with one another again. You’re compensating for the small bit of vertical room we added in our FBA.
Very carefully put scrap paper underneath all the holes on your pattern, without shifting it around. (Hooray pattern weights!) Tape this scrap paper down. At your dart, leave extra paper past the pattern’s end. We’re going to redraw that dart next and will need the extra room!
Redrawing Your Bust Dart
Now, it’s time to draw in a fancy new bust dart. To do this, first we have to mark your new dart tip.
There are some standard rules with darts that nobody tells you. You definitely don’t want this baby going all the way to your bust apex. That’s how dreadful, pointy hideousness happens! The standard rule of thumb is to position the dart tips one inch away from your bust apex. For curvy women, however, this rule doesn’t always hold true. If you have a large bosom, your actual bust apex takes up more room, after all. Over time, you will find what works best for you, but for large busts, I like the dart tips to be two inches from the apex instead.
To mark this, measure two inches to the right of your bust apex, then mark that dot for your side bust dart. Voila! A dart tip.
It’s now time to redraw your side bust dart! To do this, use your ruler and draw two straight lines from the original dart ends, to your new dart tip. I’ve done this in black above. Completely ignore the original dart legs. You’re blazing your own path and don’t need to follow those! Just go straight to your personal dart tip. Way to be a renegade!
We’re so close to the end! It’s time to get rid of that extra paper. To do this, fold your bottom dart leg to your top dart leg. Once it’s folded, cut upwards along the side, so that your side seam is straight, instead of poking out. I didn’t take a picture of this step, for some reason, so here is me doing the exact same thing to a different bodice:
WE HAVE A FINISHED FULL BUST ADJUSTMENT! WOOHOO!
Unless you want to rock a crop top, however, we should probably reattach the lower bodice.
Rejoining The Pattern
Reuniting your pattern is absurdly easy, y’all. Place the lower half of your pattern where it was attached before, matching up all vertical markings and the center front. Tape it together!
Now, we have to deal with that ridiculous bit of business happening at our side seam. Take some scrap paper and tape it underneath your side seam, along the waist curve.
Starting just below your bust dart, gently draw in a new side seam curve, hitting the smallest point of your original waist curve. I’ve done this (very) poorly with a computer line above, so you can see my new side seam clearly. A French curve can be a great help with this, but you can also eyeball it, if you have a steady hand. Note: Depending on your bust-to-waist ratio, your side seam probably won’t be as dramatic as mine.
Cut along your new side seam. Check that your side seam length matches that of the back side seam, then adjust and redraw the back as necessary. Despite my dramatic side seam, my back matched up really well, so you shouldn’t have to fiddle too much.
Finally, do a happy dance. You’ve just performed one heck of an FBA on that bodice! High five, friends!