Time to get serious now. We've noticed that sewists around the world seem to be divided on the subject of tracing sewing patterns. Either you hate it and can't wait to get it over and done with, or you love the opportunity to get familiar with the pattern and make any adjustments to personalise the design and/or fit. Although all of us here at By Hand Studios fall into the former, there's no doubting the satisfaction that comes with a well-traced and perfectly fitted pattern. So let's just dive right in shall we?
Today we will be:
- Choosing your size
- Tracing the pattern
- Showing you how to do a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA)
- Showing you how to lengthen the bodice
- Showing you how to add 3/4 length sleeves to the bodice
Choosing your size:
Take your pattern out of the slip case and flip over the folder for all the technical info, including our sizing chart.
Using a measuring tape and the diagram below as a visual guide, note down your waist, bust and hip measurements. Your waist is (usually) the smallest part of your torso, in between your ribs and hip bone. This is where the dress’ waistline will sit. Your bust measurement should be taken around the fullest part of your chest, preferably while you’re wearing the same type of bra you would choose to wear under this dress, and your hip measurement (also called your 'seat') is the fullest part around your booty. Now compare your measurements with our chart, paying extra attention to the finished measurements - this is how the dress will measure up once it's made.
Don't worry if your measurements don't perfectly match our sizes, we'll be showing you how to alter the pattern later on in this post. For now, the most important measurement you need to determine your size is your waistline.
Tracing the pattern:
Lay out your pattern tissue, smoothing out any wrinkles, and use a bright pen to highlight your size - this will make tracing off the right size much easier, especially when you get to fiddly bits where all the size lines seem to blur into one!
Place your tracing paper over the top, keeping it securely in place with pattern weights (or something heavy). Trace off your size, being sure to mark all notches, darts and pleats and remembering to label each pattern piece clearly with its name, grainline direction or fold line, size and how many to cut.
Buuut... if you do need to make some alterations to improve the fit of your Anna Dress, keep on reading...
Full Bust Adjustment (FBA):
The FBA is probably the most common alteration we have to make to commercial sewing patterns. If your bust measurement falls into a bigger size than that dictated by your waistline measurement, or if you often find your girls getting a little squished down in your handmade garms, you probably need an FBA. You may also need an FBA if you find that dresses' waistlines are sitting too high - avoid the temptation to lengthen the bodice without checking your bust and waist measurements first.
The FBA sounds daunting, but trust us - it's actually very straight forward. Even easier than the FBA for princess seams we did during the Elisalex Dress Sewalong, this FBA for a kimono sleeved bodice will be done and dusted in just four simple steps...
Take your bodice front piece and mark the apex with an 'x' - 'apex' literally means 'summit', so in sewing terms that is the summit of your nipple! - which is about 3 1/2" up from in between the two pleats. Now using the image below as a guide, draw a vertical line through the apex and a diagonal line from the apex to just below the underarm.
Cut along the vertical and diagonal line, slicing your pattern into three pieces. Tape down the right hand side piece (the piece which goes on the fold) onto a sheet of paper.
Now you need to determine how much bigger your bust needs to be. For example, I have cut a size UK8 which usually has a 33" bust, but my bust measures 34". Therefore, I need to increase each apex by half an inch in order to increase the total bust measurement by 1".
Keeping the neckline and waistline unbroken, pivot out the apex by the amount you need to increase your bust measurement. Tape down. You'll see that you've added a long, thin triangle shape into the length of your bodice, and you will have created a side bust dart:
Cut out your new bodice piece and remember to clearly label it with details of the alteration you've just made, as well as all the other information on the pattern piece. You may also need to very slightly alter your front neckline facing piece to include that little slither you've added near the neckline.
And that's your FBA all done! Just don't forget that now you have a side seam dart to mark and stitch as well as your bust pleats.
Lengthening the bodice:
Lengthening the bodice, and indeed shortening the bodice, is easy peasy.
Simply draw a line across the bodice (you'll need to apply this to both front and back pieces of the bodice), about 3" up from the waistline, right across the pleats.
Cut along this line and bring it down by the amount you want to lengthen your bodice by (or overlap it up by the amount you want to shorten by), keeping that centre front line dead straight.
When you're happy, tape the bodice pieces down onto a piece of paper, and using the image below as a guide, re-draw the side seam, pleats and centre front line, averaging out the pleat lines so that they still start at the notches and end at the circles, and averaging out the side seam also.
Remember to repeat this process for the bodice back piece!
Adding 3/4 sleeves to your Anna Dress:
Place your bodice front piece onto a piece of paper sticking out from the sleeve and keep it securely in place with pattern weights.
Extend the shoulder line by approximately 12", then come down at a right angle by about 6 1/4". This is based on the circumference of my forearm being 10" - half of that for one side of the sleeve is 5", plus two lots of seam allowance which is 1 1/4". Then simply eyeball the underarm line back to the bodice and draw a line up the existing short sleeve line.
Cut that sleeve out, keeping a little flap with which to attach this optional sleeve piece to your bodice as and when you need it:
And when it's attached, it should look a little something like this:
Repeat this process for your bodice back piece and you're all done!
That's all for today folks - we really hope these alterations will help you in the making of your perfect Anna!
We also recommend you check out Sonja's amazing Back Neckline Adjustment tutorial - a great one for those of you narrow of shoulders or small of back!