One of the most important fit techniques in sewing is the small and full bust adjustment. It ensures the correct fit in the bodice, which, let's be frank, the eye is most often drawn to. It is also quite uncomfortable to be continually pulling and tugging at a dress with an ill-fitting bodice!
The team at Colette Patterns put together a comprehensive tutorial for both small and full bust adjustments, which we reviewed while we were sewing the Pastille dress.
Sarai's newly unveiled Hazel is absolutely stunning and the overall impression would be ruined were the bust poorly fitted! Now, the methods I am going to outline below are not the gospel, but are simply how I would go about making an FBA/SBA.
Full Bust Adjustment (FBA)
A full bust adjustment is a simple method for increasing the fullness in the bodice pieces and eliminating pulling/strained fabric. Following the Colette Patterns FBA tutorial, you will apply the changes to the bodice front piece of your Hazel pattern. This is one instance where it is very important to work on a traced copy as you always have the original to refer back to.
Once you have finished making the changes, sew up a new muslin of the entire bodice only. Look in the mirror and examine the fit. It is too tight? Is the fabric pulling across your bust line or at the sides? If yes, then simply increase the ease in the front bodice piece.
If the fabric is tight across the sides, then working off a traced copy of the front side piece and following the same steps as outlined above, add fullness here in order to allow them to gently curve around your bust; we are looking for a lovely enhancement of your feminine curves!
Make another muslin of the bodice (this is where machine basting comes in handy as the back pieces and be easily pulled apart and resewn to the adjusted pieces) and check the fit again. Once the bodice lays nicely across your bust line, as in Sarai's beautiful Hazel, you have completed your FBA!
Small Bust Adjustment (SBA)
A small bust adjustment removes excess fullness from the bodice, thus eliminating a gaping front. An SBA, like an FBA, is also a straightforward adjustment.
Following the steps outlined in the Colette Patterns' SBA tutorial, make the necessary adjustments to your traced copy of the front bodice pattern piece. Sew up a muslin, using the longest stitch length on your machine, and check the fit. If the bodice is still too large, make further adjustments to your front bodice piece and try again. Likewise, if the side bodice pieces are gaping, adjust as needed and try another muslin.
While the steps listed for both an FBA and SBA may seem laborious, the outcome is the creation of a master pattern than can be used endlessly, yielding a beautifully fitted garment.
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