Back when I made the Mermaid Dress I tried googling for instructions on completing an FBA on a gathered bodice. Whilst I found awesome instructions over at Sew Mama, Sew on a princess line adjustment (used many times now – check it out) I came up empty handed and proceeded to completely improvise. It all came together in the end but it must have been blind luck because now I’ve seen a correct FBA on a gathered bodice, I have no idea how I ended up with something presentable.
So here, in the hope it helps some other desperate googler, are the step-by-step instructions on a gathered bodice full bust adjustment as adapted from Palmer/Pletsch.
- Select your starting size by measuring your high bust (under your arms) and using this as your bust measurement. Trace off your bodice pieces so you don’t screw up the original (ahem, looking in the mirror). Mark your stitching lines and apply small strips of tape to the wrong side of the tissue along the arm hole on the front + back bodice. Clip to the curve to the stitching line; the tape acts like stay stitching preventing the paper from tearing.
- Pin together the front and back bodice and try the pieces on. Measure between the center front marked on the pattern and your actual center front at the full bust point. This is going to be your FBA measurement. For pictures of these first steps check out this post.
- On your bodice front piece, draw a vertical line from the bottom of the tissue to the bust apex parrallel to the center front. Continue the line to the stitching line about 1/3 of the way up the armhole (often there is a notch at this point). This is Line 1.
- Draw a line from the side seam to the apex, approximately where a bust dart would usually fall. This is Line 2.
- Draw a horizontal line, 90 degrees to the center front, from line one to the center edge. This is Line 3.
Using a couple of pins, secure the center front to a piece of cardboard.
Using scissors, cut up Line 1 to the stitching line a spread the tissue by your FBA measurement (2 inches in my case). Pin at apex.
Cut through Line 2to the apex but not through it, leaving a hinge. Swing the lower piece down so that the cut edges of Line 1 are an even, and parallel distance (your FBA measurement) apart. Secure with pins.
Cut all the way through Line 3 and lower so it matches the new lower edge of the tissue being sure to keep the center front matched.
Take note of the length you have added to your bodice, in this case 1 1/4 inches. This will come in handy later.
Fill in all your gaps with tissue except Line 2. If you wanted to, you could fill this in and make it a horizontal dart but in this case we are all about the gathers so we need to rotate that space into the gathers at the bottom.
- But first let’s talk length. For most people, a simple FBA as noted so far should add sufficient length to the bodice, however, for my particular bust shape I need an additional 1 1/2 inches on top of the FBA. My biggest pet peeve with this style of RTW clothing is when the empire line sits on my bust rather than under it so I cut the pattern piece horizontally along the upper edge of Line 3 and spread it by this distance, filling the gap with tissue.
- If you add the additional length to the front, don’t forget to do the same to the back.
- Whether you added the additional length in Step 12 or not the FBA continues by cutting up the far edge of Line 1 to the point of Line 2 but not through it, leaving a hinge.
This allows you to swing the tissue up, closing the gap on Line 2 and opening space along the line just cut. Tape Line 2 together.
- Fill in your gap. This creates extra gathers under the bust allowing your girls the space they need and deserve. For me this FBA added 2″ of width, 3″ of length and 4″ of extra gathers and ecause it is gathered it can be eased into whichever size you have cut for the midriff or skirt.
And that is all there is to it. If you look closely at the pictures, you will see what my next project is so until then…