Oct 252013

Today is a fitting chat day. There are several common alterations like the Full Bust and Small Bust adjustments and the forward shoulder. I’ve posted a forward shoulder tutorial on my own blog if you’re interested. Now, I’ll show you how I adjust the bust line.

Just joining us? All the sew-along posts can be found on the Sugar Plum Sew-Along page!

Adjusting for the bustline

Start by measuring your high bust. Measuring your high bust and starting with the size that corresponds to that size helps with better fitting back and shoulders. To decide how much you need to add to your front bodice, measure both the front length and width and compare to your own measurements. You’ll need to also add to that the measurement of the back but subtract all seam allowances. I prefer 1-2 inches of bust ease but you’ll want to make sure you have the ease you like. 

Compare the difference between the final bust measurement of the size you’ve chosen with your own bust measurement. The difference needs to be divided in half and added to your pattern.

First you need to identify the point of the bust apex. Darts are drafted from the apex so you can draw a line up from the middle of your dart or in this case the pleat. The apex will usually be about an inch above the tip of the dart. For those of us with larger busts, you want the dart to end further than an inch. The larger the bust, the further away the tip of the dart should be from the apex. I often will put the pattern up to my body and see where my apex is compared to the pattern.

If your apex is much lower or much higher than where it lands after the FBA, you’ll want to adjust that, too but after you do your bust adjustment as it’ll get moved when you add or remove bust room.

Draw a line from the apex down to the middle of your bust pleat and across to the side seam.

Draw another line from the armscye (about 1/3 of the way from the side seam) and connect to the apex point.


Continue drawing the line that came up from the bust pleat all the way to the shoulder.


Cut from the bottom of the bodice up to the apex and over to the armscye. Don’t cut through the armscye. You want to be able to swing the piece, not remove it entirely.


Continue cutting all the way up to the shoulder, again leaving some of the tissue intact so you can swing it open (or in the case of an SBA, closed)


From the side of the bodice, cut along the line you created, leaving the point at the apex uncut.


Draw a horizontal line on the center front piece- this you will use to lengthen or shorten your bodice to match the work you did to adjust for your bust.


Using a ruler or a tape measure, mark the amount of the FBA/SBA. For my FBA, I slide the pieces apart until I get to the width I need. You can do the same for an SBA. You can also start with a sheet of tissue paper underneath so you can just tape your opened up bodice piece down right away. I’ve also put down a piece of muslin and traced the new adjusted bodice to it and have a muslin ready to stitch up. Then, I use the muslin as my pattern.


now specifically….

Full Bust Adjustment

Once you’ve opened up your bodice, measuring to make sure you have enough room for your bust plus 1-2″ of ease, place tissue paper underneath your pattern and secure with tape. Then, swing the side piece so that it’s parallel to rest of the pattern. When you do that, you’ll have created your side bust dart. You can either stitch up the dart or pivot it to the under bust pleat. It’s your choice. Don’t worry, when you stitch up the side bust dart you just created, your front and back bodices will still match up.


You’ll need to make one more cut along the center front part of the bodice so that you can slide it down to match up with the rest of your adjusted bodice.



I’ll come back to correcting the length in the shield in a minute… for now, add tissue behind the space.

Small Bust Adjustment

For the SBA, we’re going to rewind and go back to where we had all the lines drawn and had cut the bodice apart.

Bust adjustments


You’ll want to measure your pattern flat and compare to your own bust measurement.


Compare the difference between your bust measurement and the pattern’s. You’ll want to overlap the bodice pieces until it measures what your body measures. Again, personal ease is, well, personal. You might want more or less ease.

If your altered bodice is shorter than the back bodice you can add or subtract length. Which one you do depends on whether you are short waisted or long waisted. You might need more or less length.

Adjusting the shield and button loop placement


Take out your shield pattern piece.


Fold down the 3/8″ seam allowance at the top.


Place the top of the folded down shield next to your bodice notch.


Note what size shield you need to cut so that it will match your altered bodice and cut that size.


For the buttonhole loops, look to see what size markings would best suit your newly altered bodice. You might just need to add a loop or use a larger or smaller size markings than you had before.

Okay, we’re all done. Let me know if you have any questions.

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