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Holly Jumpsuit Sewalong - Alterations week - part 5: Small Bust Adjustment (SBA), Variation 1

Hellooooo and welcome to Alterations Week for the Holly Jumpsuit Sewalong! During Alterations Week we will be going through as many pattern alteration tutorials as we can physically crush in, making this our most comprehensive Sewalong yet! The extra great news is that a lot of these tutorials will be applicable not only to the Holly Jumpsuit, but to a huge amount of other patterns too as we tackle most of the common issues surrounding pattern fitting. 

*To be taken to all the posts in the Holly Jumpsuit Sewalong, please click here!*

In this tutorial we'll be showing you how to do a basic Small Bust Adjustment to the button-down bodice of Variation 1. If this is your first foray into the world of pattern alteration, don't be scared - it's really very straightforward, can be applied to most bodices, and will make the world of difference to the way your homemade jumpsuits and dresses fit!

What you'll need:

  • Your traced Bodice Front piece of the Holly Jumpsuit (Variation 1, cut out in the size dictated by your waistline measurement).
  • Ruler
  • Pens
  • Paper scissors (not the fabric shears!)
  • Extra paper
  • Tape

Please note: We are using itty bitty replica's of the pattern pieces to illustrate the alterations as simply and clearly as possible - please make sure that you alter your real-life pattern pieces, complete with notches, pattern info and grainlines!

How do I know if I need a Small Bust Adjustment?

There are a number of ways to determine whether or not you'll need to alter your bodice pattern, and by how much. The first thing to be asking yourself (and you probably already have if you're taking the time to read this post!) is how do your clothes - homemade or shop-bought - usually fit you? Do you find that dresses and tops squish down or flatten your tatas? Or is there room for an extra padded bra or two?! If your answer is 'yes' to the latter, you've come to the right place my friend. Now let's investigate further...

Some more tell-tale signs that an SBA is in order:

  • Your high bust measurement is up to an inch less than your full bust measurement
  • Your full bust measurement falls into a smaller size group than that of your waist measurement
  • Waistlines on dresses often sag down, falling below your natural waistline (avoid the temptation to shorten the bodice before determining if you need an SBA first)

OK guys, let's do this.

Step 1 

We need to begin by marking out the apex (basically the nipple - this is roughly the point where the seams of the bust and waistline darts, if extended, would intersect). 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 blue).

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, or close it in on itself in this case, to reduce the unwanted excess fabric.

Draw a vertical line through the centre of the waistline dart up to the apex (red).

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

Draw a line from the middle of the armscye (from the seam line) to the apex (green).

Draw a horizontal line from the middle-ish point of the waistline dart and out to the centre front (orange).

Step 3 

Cut upwards through the red line from the waistline, through the apex and along the green line ending at the armscye's seam line.

Now cut along the pink line from the side seam, through the bust dart and ending just before the apex - do not cut all the way through it, we need the apex to be able to pivot.

Cut the horizontal orange line.

Finally, snip into the seam allowance at the armhole up to the green line, but not through it - this will be another pivot point.

Step 4 - The SBA

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

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

For example, if your waistline measurement is 26" - and you have therefore cut a size UK8/US4, but your full bust measurement is 31" - and therefore 2" smaller than that of a size UK8/US4, you will need to decrease each apex by 1" to reduce the total bust measurement by 2".

Move the bodice in on itself, pivoting at the armhole and apex. When you have reduced the apex by your desired amount, tape it all securely down.

You'll notice that by slashing and reducing your bodice, the side seam will have become slightly shorter. Because of this, we now need to shorten the centre front to match. Simply move the bottom right piece (where we cut horizontally along the orange line) up, keeping the centre front perfectly vertical and flush. Tape into place.

Almost there guys - the last thing we now have to do to the bodice front is to re-draw the darts. Peasy!

Starting with the waistline dart, mark the point in the middle of where the top of the original dart now overlaps. Draw a straight line from the top of the new dart down to the original dart notches along the waistline. This now narrower dart will keep the waistline measurement the same as when we started.

Repeat this process for the bust dart.

All done! The great thing about this adjustment is that we now don't need to make any further alterations to the bodice back or the trousers, as by reducing the volume in the bust, we've also reduced the width of the darts, meaning that both the side seams and waistline remain the same length. 

Tip from the top: once you're happy with your newly adjusted pattern, copy it out onto some card for extra safe-keeping! Although this is an easy adjustment to make, no one wants to have to do it twice...

For further reading on Small Bust Adjustments, we also have tutorials for the following:


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