Full Bust Adjustment Novice

Ok, so technically I have a successful Full Bust Adjustment under (above?) my belt. But it was a bit of a fudge so I’m not sure it counts as a Proper FBA.

My original self devised training plan for FBA’s was to follow Maria’s instructions to make a FBA on her free Kimono t-shirt pattern, and then use the join the dots method for sizing on the free Cake t shirt pattern and compare them and see what was easier. But as I fudged the first FBA, that means making another Maria Denmark kimono t with a “proper” adjustment and then a Cake t shirt as well, which I now realise is also a kimono style t shirt (i.e. with sleeve shapes as part of the front/back rather than a seperate sleeve piece to sew on) and I realised that I don’t want another kimono style t shirt let alone two.

So, I bit the bullet and bought a t shirt pattern. There are lots out there (indeed I have a free plantain one from Deer and Doe sitting in a file on my computer, but someone told me that they flare out funny at the waist and I kind of see what she means and it rather put me off them), but I bought a Birgitte Basic Tee pattern from Maria Denmark. Partly because I was really impressed with her free kimono tee pattern, partly because I was planning on using her FBA (but actually reading it properly this time) and that seemed a fair of paying for her advice and also because I’ve been eying up her drape top – but haven’t bought it as it doesn’t have sleeves and drafting sleeve heads feels way beyond my capabilities. However it does apparently fit the Birgitte sleeve heads, so if I happened to have that pattern already it might be worth buying it (whereas buying two patterns to get one sleeved drape top seemed a tad extravagant).

I measured my upper bust at 100cm and chose to do the large size (for 102cm bust) with a 7cm Full Bust Adjustment (i.e. 3.5cm each side) to accomodate my 107cm full bust. I decided to gloss over my waist and hip measurements, which were a size or two larger, partly because I was in denial (hence the lack of figures) because that worked out ok on the kimono tee shirt and partly because I normally have too much in fabric in my lower back so I figured it would be ok.

Printing out and taping together the pattern went as well as I find PDF’s ever do (the lines never quite meet up right, I think my printer stretches one side of what it’s printing out by a couple of millimetres compared to the other side – I must give this blog post from Infectious Stitches about this problem with pdf’s a good read before I next try printing out a pdf pattern) and then I got ill and ignored it.


FBA in progress, the pattern piece has been pivoted to meet my mark and be retraced

When I finally felt up to working out how to do the Easy FBA on Maria’s website it must have taken all of 5 minutes, it really was very easy. Trace round pattern, measure my extra width needed (3.5cm, see above) out from the bottom of the armpit and mark, pivot the pattern so it now meets the mark, re trace. (I’m sure there must be an easy way of doing this with a kimono t but I couldn’t get my head around how to achieve that last time). It took less time than adding the seam allowance to my traced pattern. (Which is a slightly annoying thing about Maria Denmark patterns, if, like me, you’re not used to adding seam allowance and resent the extra step, I guess it’s a cultural thing?).

Finished FBA

The finished FBA is shown here (on left in blue) as well as the original tracing of the pattern piece (on right in black)

I also realised at this point that I needed to choose my neck option, scoop or v neck (there are 2 neck options as well as 3 sleeve lengths included in the Brigitte pattern). As I was feeling ill I asked hubby and he said v neck. I know he likes a v neck t shirt, I don’t have many, I couldn’t remember if that was because the shops don’t sell them so much for women or because I didn’t like them, but I wasn’t up to complicated thinking at that point so I just went with the v neck. (Isn’t my design decision process so thorough!)

For the back pattern piece I cheated as I didn’t want to go through the process of retracing the pattern just to add seam allowance. As I wasn’t the largest size, there was space to spare on the paper I had. I thought about adding the seam allowance to my size line before cutting but was worried I’d get confused with all the other size lines. So I traced my size line in marker pen that showed through to the back, added the seam allowance to that and then cut it out. I’m not sure it saved much time but it felt like I saved some paper at the very least.

So, now I had my pattern pieces with the front piece adjusted and I cut out the fabric and started sewing. Easy peasy, this was going to be quick. I made shoulder seams, attatched the sleeves, sewed the
sides up – everything matched, no fudging needed this time. Then I tried it on.

I was sorely disappointed. It was a lot tighter around the waist and hips than I’d expected given that it’s supposed to “skim loosely over the stomach area”. I guess I should have expected this considering that my waist and hips were in a larger pattern bracket, but it hadn’t happened with the kimono t shirt. Maybe this one is a different fit style? Maybe this fabric isn’t so drapey as the stripey stuff? I did the only thing I could do in the circumstances, I sulked and did no more on it.

After a few days I worked out what the problem might be. Last time I did a slash and spread adjustment that adds the extra width not just to the bust area, but all the rest of the way down the front of the piece, so to the waist and hips also. Doh! I have seen FBA’s where darts are added at the waist to take this excess back out but not on a t shirt FBA. Anyway, last time, I added extra width all down my front, I guess I kind of did a small shoulder adjustment rather than an FBA. No wonder the fit was different.

So, problem identified, what to do about my 3/4 made garment? Nothing for it but to sulk some more and daydream about another pattern.

Finally today I decided that I will buy a Lola pattern, whether I use it for my “special” fabric or not, but that I really had to tackle some of my pile of half made stuff first. And top of the list were two things, including this top, which hadn’t even made it from the ironing board to the pile.

I decided to start with the neckline. I was still sulking slightly and generally wishing I hadn’t brought this fabric which is not such a good quality and doesn’t stretch as much as some t shirt fabric. I decided on a whim to make a contrast neckline, mainly due to the fact an old red t shirt of mine was lying around that I’d toyed with using to line the hood on the boys Hooded top recently (I didn’t in the end, as I felt the expenisve main fabric deserved better than second hand lining fabric that might wear out before it did). I cut a neckband from the hem of the t shirt, it was already folded in half and coverstitched in place.

Preparing the neckband

Preparing the neckband

Instead of following the v neck tutorial I used before I half read Maria’s instructions and cracked on. I sewed the neckband together at an angle rather than adding the angle once it was sewn down. Then I attatched it. My seam allowance was small (1/2 cm?) as I was recycling and I didn’t use enough pins so I failed to catch the main fabric in places, resulting in unpicking black triple stretch stitches, argghhh! Then I flipped and stitched in the ditch, which started of looking really messy and then I switched from triple stretch stitch to a long normal straight stitch, which worked better.

Hmm, not sure

Hmm, not sure

I tried it on and was not convinced by my neckband, which wasn’t symmetrical or flat at the “V” point. However the fit was better than I remembered, which was good. The front of the neckband I tweaked with a few hand stitches as that was all there was room for, so at least it’s flatter now.

Dodgy neckband

Dodgy neckband (and dodgy photo, the fabric doesn’t actually look pilled

After that I dithered a bit about using more red contrast or not. I nearly added a red pocket, but decided my bust didn’t need adornment or attention drawing to it. In the end I cut the ends of the sleeves and used them to cap the sleeves, stitching in place, turning and stitching in the ditch like the neckband. (But with many more pins, which meant I didn’t have to do any repicking and restitching, hooray for lessons learn. However the stitch in the ditching on one is rubbish – I realised I was hungry and broke for snack before the other, which is much better). I contemplated adding a red band at the bottom, but as my shorter red t shirt was much narrower that would have meant seaming two pieces together, which seemed a little too much effort, so I just folded over the hem and stitched it in place with my twin needle.

Look, a Swedish Vimpel

Look, a Swedish Vimpel

So, I ended up with a wearable t shirt. I’m a little uncertain about the look of the black and the red, I’ve worked out why, it reminds me of a corporate branded rugby shirt I was once given in navy blue with red cuffs and my company logo on. I’ve decided that it won’t remind anyone else of that so it’s safe to wear. I wore it all afternoon and got two compliments – for my skirt (oh well). Oh and the cuffs on the sleeves are a little “bubbly” – obviously they could have been attached better, it bugs me but I don’t think most people will notice.

not so glamorous back view

not so glamorous back view

So in summary: The easy FBA is very easy, but it only adds width to the bust so don’t rely on it to cover up other fit issues lower down too! Also, I don’t like this black fabric much, so must remember to be fussier when I buy things (I got it locally where there isn’t so much choice in jersey, especially not if you want something plain).

9 thoughts on “Full Bust Adjustment Novice

  1. Still not having attempted the FBA I read his post with bated breath. It sounds as the though the actual FBA wasn’t too bad! & fit in t-shirt is great. Well done you!

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  4. Looks really good, well done. Thanks for the notes on trying out FBA, informative.

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