Full Bust Fix
Get the latest including tips, techniques and special offers straight to your inbox.
In “The Devil Wears Prada,” Stanley Tucci’s character explains that the key to wearing an evening dress is to “keep the girls pointing forward.” Sage advice indeed, but what happens when “the girls” are larger than average? Have you ever had a dress or top that looked just perfect, but when you put it on, it pulled up in the front, leaving you with unsightly wrinkles and an uneven hem? Baby, you have a full bust!
Most commercial patterns are drafted for a B-cup. If you are bigger than a B, you’ll need an adjustment to your pattern to compensate for this. This adjustment is called a Full Bust Adjustment, or FBA for short. There are lots of great tutorials, both in books and on the Web, for FBA (see “Want More?” at the end of this entry). But how do you do FBA when your pattern uses non-standard pieces, such as a princess-seam or wrap style with separate side panels?
The pattern piece extends from the front of the dress around to the back with no side seam. If you’re like me, you need the FBA, but you can’t do it on the pattern piece as it’s printed. So you need to separate the side pattern piece into two pieces-a side front and a side back.
To do this, first make a line across the entire pattern piece at the bust line, which is marked on the pattern piece. Then make the line for your side seam. This line is parallel to the grain line and runs through the two armhole dots:
This seam line divides your side piece into the side front and side back. Trace each of these separately onto paper, adding seam allowances at the side seam.
Next, slash your side front piece along the line you drew, but not all the way through the side seam. Spread the same amount as your front, about 1 inch should do it.
Notice that there is a slight angling of the side seam. I don’t straighten or “true” the seam. Truing would add more width at the bust, which I don’t feel I need.
Once this is done, you can do your standard princess line FBA. First, slash and spread your front pieces at the bustline, spreading the pieces ½ inch for every cup size above a B cup. In my case, I spread the pattern piece 1 inch. This slashing and spreading also adds length to the neckline, which you need to go over the “bumps” and fall straight at the hem.
NOTE: The slant of the slash line doesn’t matter.
Finally, don’t forget to make the same adjustments on your facing pattern pieces:
This adjustment will allow your garment to fall gracefully over the bust without “pulling up” in front. It takes a few extra steps, but the results are well worth it!
WANT MORE? To see how a traditional FBA is done, click here.
STEP 1: We'll do a bust adjustment on New Look pattern 6429 (www.simplicity.com), a mock wrap dress that has an interesting side bodice piece.
STEP 2: To separate the side pattern piece and make the adjustment, make a line across the entire pattern piece at the bust line, which is marked on the pattern piece. Then make the line for your side seam, this line should run parallel to the grain through the armhole dots.
STEP 3:The new seam line divides your side piece into the side front and side back. Trace each of these onto paper and add seam allowances on the side as shown.
STEP 4: Now, slash your side front piece along the line you drew, but not all the way through the side seam. Spread the same amount as your front (in this case, 1 inch), as shown here.
STEP 5: Continue with a standard princess-line full bust adjustment.
STEP 6: Remember to make the same adjustments on your facing pieces.