Thursday, July 31, 2014

Performing A Full Bust Adjustment On An Empire Waist

My MAGAM project for July is Simplicity 1916. I have sewn different versions of this pattern and although it was wearable I noticed wrinkles that indicated improper fit.  This time I thought that a FBA might improve the fit so I set off to figure out how to do one with this style pattern. I think I got it right and I am pleased with the result.  I am shariing  what I did and I hope that my experience might  help someone else who is considering this pattern or a similar style.  

I made a version of view F which is a wrap front bodice with an empire waist.  There is a front band that is gathered at center front and a sash with a rosette embellishment but I decided against the sash and rosette because I thought it looked funny (think  neck tie that only reaches mid belly).  The gathers in the center front band made the band look to short so I pulled out the gathering stitches and chose instead to leave the band flat.  I also lengthened the top since I'd planned to wear it with capris.

Here is the finished garment.


1.  Mark the bodice in preparation for FBA. 
I found the position of my bust point and then drew a line parallel to the grainline up to the bust point. Then I drew two more lines--one from the bust point to the armhole and one from the bust point to the side seam below the notch.  Note: I use this method to find my bust point-- pin pattern front and back together at the shoulders. Try on pattern making sure shoulder seam is in the correct position on my shoulder and then line up the center front of the pattern to my center front and mark the apex of my bust.  Caveat: I am not an expert.  This method has worked for me. You may find a different method that works better for you. 

2.  Slash and spread the amount needed for adjustment. In this case I found that I needed to add 1 1/2 inches to the bust after comparing my measurements to the finished measurements so I spread the the pattern 3/4 inch (1 1/2 inches divided by 2).

3.  Slash the pattern on the line at the side seam (red) and spread until the space measures 3/4 inch the entire length from the bust point to the lower edge. The dart that results will be rotated out at the pleats.  Draw another line from the point of the new bust dart to the closest pleat (blue line). 

4.  Cut along blue line up to the dart point, but not through.  Then rotate the dart closed. The dart has now been rotated into the pleat (see where the pen is pointing?)  Stay with me now...

5.  Now tape some paper to the lower edge, fold and pin the pleats in place as directed on the pattern and draw a new cutting line to mimic the original cutting line at the lower edge.
6.  Then unfold the pleats and extend the solid lines and the dotted lines (yellow).   Now extend the newly drawn cutting lines until they intersect the solid or dotted lines (I forgot to take a picture of this step before trimming away the excess paper).  You should notice that the newly drawn lower cutting line follows the original cutting lines but more length and width has been added to the pleat at center front. Now cut off the excess paper and you should get something like this

7.  Measure the amount added to the bodice to determine the amount to add to the lower front piece.
Since the bodice front alterations were located between the notch and the center front the extra width needed was added to the lower front between the notch and the center front that will be gathered).  

8.  Draw a line parallel to the grainline and cut along this line.  I also draw a few horizontal lines to use as reference points to make sure everything lines up later. 

9.  Then slash and spread the pattern apart by the same amount that was added to this bodice (in this case 1/2 + 3/4 = 1 1/4 inches).  
I also added 2 inches to the overall length so I could wear this top with capris. Extra length in my opinion is more pleasing proportionately. 

10. Don't forget to add to the front band.  I added 1 1/4 inches to each side of the center front since the front band is not cut on the fold. 

I hope this all makes sense and you find this information helpful.

Until next time...Sew something you love!


  1. Love your colorful top. It looks great on you. Thanks for the FBA lesson. I've never done anything like that before. I've bookmarked that post for future reference ( or until I get the nerve to try it). Thanks.

    1. elle3270, I hope the tutorial helps. Thanks.

  2. I have this very pattern and it needs adjusting to fit me properly! Thank you for the helpful tutorial. And the top you make looks wonderful--you did the right thing with the bands. It looks much better without the rosette.

    1. Thanks Shoebox Princess. I hope the tutorial is helpful to you.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks knitmachinequeen. I follow your blog. You are an inspiration!

  4. Very nice top, and very clear lesson.

  5. Love the bold colours, and lovely easy instructions

    1. Thank you Linda! I love prints. This top has become one of my favorites.


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