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Bust Adjustments (FBA & SBA) for the Sandeep dress

Did you catch our latest pattern release?? The Sandeep Dress and Skirt has been a work in progress for the last six years (!!), and we are so excited to finally be releasing her into the world! The twirliest girliest party dress on the block, guaranteed to see you through wedding season and beyond!

Her uniquely floaty yet polished raglan sleeve bodice is deceptively simple to sew, but may leave you scratching your head if you're in need of a full or small bust adjustment (FBA / SBA) due to the angled V-shaped darts that start at centre front (CF) and go up and out the apex.

The good news is that if you've ever done a FBA or SBA on a traditional darted bodice, this one will feel very familiar to you, and actually much easier! Keep reading to learn how to alter the bust on your Sandeep dress...

You will need:

  • Your Sandeep Dress & Skirt pattern
  • A tape measure
  • Some extra pattern paper - we like dot & cross or baking paper
  • Pens, a pencil and a ruler
  • Tape - masking tape is good as it is easily removable if you make a mistake
  • Paper scissors

Before you begin, have you read our posts on how to take accurate body measurements, and how to download, print & assemble a PDF sewing pattern

Full Bust Adjustment (FBA)

How do I know if an FBA is in order?

  • Your full bust is more than 2" bigger than your high bust measurement (see this post on how to take accurate body measurements)
  • Your full bust measurement falls into a larger size group than the size you have decided to start with
  • Dresses that fit your waist tend to squish down your chest
  • You find that your waistlines often ride up (avoid the temptation to lengthen the bodice)

Step 1 

We need to begin by marking out the apex (literally translated "summit" - this is about 3/4" beyond the dart's vanishing point). We also need to mark out the seam line of the armscye, 5/8" or 15mm in from the edge of the armhole (shown in green).

Step 2

To do the FBA, we're going to use the 'slash & spread' alteration method. Sounds a little creepy and murderous, I know, but slashing & spreading is basically just the technique of cutting along key lines through the pattern in order to open it up to allow more space for the bust.

Draw a line through the centre of the dart up to the apex (pink).

Continue this line up and out to the armscye seam line and draw a little circle there. This will be a hinge point.

Step 3 

Cut upwards through the red line from the waistline, through the apex and up to the armscye's seam line, stopping when you get to the circle.

Snip into the seam allowance at the armscye up to the circle but not through it - this creates our hinge point.

Step 4 - The FBA: basic

Take your slashed bodice and place it onto a spare piece of paper. 

We are now going to open up the apex by however much we need to increase the bust by.

For example, if you have decided to cut a size UK8/US4, but your full bust measurement is 34" - and therefore 1" larger than that of a size UK8/US4, you will need to increase the apex by 1/2" to give you the 1" total extra space around the bust.

If you need to increase the bust by more than 1" total, skip to The FBA: adding a bust dart below.

Spread out the bodice, pivoting at the armscye hinge. When you have opened up the apex by your desired amount, tape it all securely down.

Your dart will have become wider. We now just need to redraw the dart's vanishing point and legs: choose a point in the middle of the FBA opening at the same height as the original dart for your new vanishing point. Redraw the dart legs by connecting this new point with the notches at the waist (new dart shown in green). Trim away any excess paper, and you're done!

Step 4 - The FBA: adding a bust dart

The only difference with this slightly extended version of the FBA, is that we're going to create a dart coming from the side seam (like a traditional bust dart) so as to share the volume from the V-dart. This is advisable if you are doing a FBA of more than 1" total, or you feel like in doing the basic FBA above, your V-dart has become too wide.

On your bodice, draw an additional line going from the side seam about a third of the way down from the underarm to the apex.

Slash this line from the side seam to, but not through the apex: we need another little hinge here:

Spread out the bodice keeping the opening through the dart parallel, pivoting at the armscye hinge and the apex hinge. When you have opened up the apex by your desired amount, tape it all securely down.

Your dart will have become wider and you will have opened up a new dart space from the side seam. We now just need to draw a new dart there at the bust and redraw the waist dart's vanishing point and legs:

To draw in the bust dart, measure 1" out from the apex, and then draw a pair of dart legs from that point out to the openings at the side seam. Create a little pointy dart extension at the side seam and trim away the excess paper.

To redraw the waist dart, choose a point in the middle of the FBA opening at the same height as the original dart for your new vanishing point. Redraw the dart legs by connecting this new point with the notches at the waist (new dart shown in green). Trim away any excess paper, and you're done!

***

Small Bust Adjustment (SBA)

How do I know if an SBA is in order?

  • Your full bust is less than 2" bigger than your high bust measurement (see this post on how to take accurate body measurements)
  • Your full bust measurement falls into a smaller size group than the size you have decided to start with
  • Dresses that fit your waist tend to be baggy at the bust
  • You find that your waistlines often droop or sit too low at the front (avoid the temptation to shorten the bodice)

Step 1 

We need to begin by marking out the apex (literally translated "summit" - this is about 3/4" beyond the dart's vanishing point). We also need to mark out the seam line of the armscye, 5/8" or 15mm in from the edge of the armhole (shown in green).

Step 2

To do the SBA, we're going to use the 'slash & spread' alteration method. Sounds a little creepy and murderous, I know, but slashing & spreading is basically just the technique of cutting along key lines through the pattern in order to open it up to allow more space for the bust.

Draw a line through the centre of the dart up to the apex (pink).

Continue this line up and out to the armscye seam line and draw a little circle there. This will be a hinge point.

Step 3 

Cut upwards through the red line from the waistline, through the apex and up to the armscye's seam line, stopping when you get to the circle.

Snip into the seam allowance at the armscye up to the circle but not through it - this creates our hinge point.

Step 4 - The SBA

We are now going to reduce the apex by however much we need to decrease the bust by.

For example, if you have decided to cut a size UK22/US26, but your full bust measurement is 50" - and therefore 2" smaller than that of a size UK22/US26, you will need to decrease each apex by 1" to reduce the total bust measurement by 2".

Move the bodice in on itself, measuring across from the apex your SBA amount, pivoting at the armhole and overlapping the paper down the waist dart. When you have reduced the apex by your desired amount, tape it all securely down.

Your dart will have become narrower. We now just need to redraw the dart's vanishing point and legs: choose a point in the middle of the SBA overlap at the same height as the original dart for your new vanishing point. Redraw the dart legs by connecting this new point with the notches at the waist (new dart shown in green). Trim away any excess paper, and you're done!

Tip from the top: Always check your adjustment by making a toile to check the fit. Remember that you can tweak the height and angle of your waist dart ever so slightly directly on the toile as you're wearing it. If you have made the FBA with the added bust dart, check on your toile that this dart is pointing directly to your apex; if it is too high you will need to lower the dart accordingly. Once you're happy with your newly adjusted pattern, copy it out onto some card for extra safe keeping! Although this is a straightforward adjustment to make, no one wants to have to do it twice...

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