FBA: Basic Bodice

Click to enlarge.

Here is the nice basic Full Bust Adjustment I used on the Tunic Dress.

  1. Cut out your front pattern piece.
  2. Mark the apex of the bust (if not already printed on the tissue).
  3. Draw Line 1 straight up from the hem to the apex then to the stitching line of the arm hole, about 1/3 of the way up. Most patterns have a notch marked about here.
  4. Draw Line 2 from the center of the bust dart to the apex.
  5. Draw Line 3 horizontally from Line 1 to the center front.
  6. Cut up Line 1 from the hem to the armhole but not through it, leaving a hinge. Pivot the spread the side piece to add your desired width (To find out the FBA needed, see this post).
  7. Cut through Line 2 from the side leaving a hinge at the apex. Swing the side piece down so the cut edges of Line 1 are an even distance apart (2 inches in my case).
  8. Cut all the way through Line 3 and slide the bottom piece down so it is even with the other side.
  9. Fill in all the gaps with paper. Redraw the bust dart starting at the original dart legs and ending 2 inches from the apex along Line 2.

You can see when we lie our new piece over the original how length and width has been added. The size of the dart has increased meaning that when it is constructed the length of the side seam and the arm hole remains unchanged.


  • TracyKM July 29, 2011

    Very good instructions! When I’ve tried an FBA in the past, the armhole ended up a really weird shape. You can see in your bottom picture comparing your two outlines how the new armhole starts to curve up….when I tried, the armhole curved WAY up, almost like a J shape. It’s fustrating…my measurements do all fall in one column, but I’m a DD cup so cutting that size I “fit” is a laugh when it comes to the shoulders/neck, etc. I’ve just found your blog and I’m enjoying what I’m seeing so far!!

    • lazystitcher July 29, 2011

      Hey Tracy, lovely to hear from you. First thing I think would be to make sure you choose the size to cut by taking your high bust measurement (under your armpits) and matching it to the bust measurement of the pattern. If you choose the size that matches your shoulders should fit most of the time. The other thing that I’ve found helps if the armhole gets too distorted when doing a standard FBA is to do what’s called a Y-adjustment (a version posted here). This adjustment results in a less severe curve at the armhole and a slightly smaller bust dart at the side seam than a basic FBA.
      Hope that helps 🙂

  • CarolynD September 22, 2013

    My trouble with just about every FBA doing the slash and spread method is that the shape of the original gets so widened, and I have wasted so much time on these adjustments with not the best results. This is a terrific blog post by so – so sewist and there are many good methods to choose from. I used the simplicity method shown in this post with good results, as it didn’t alter the shape of the pattern for me.


  • Sewing Nut October 10, 2013

    It seems to me now, thought, that everything below the bust has also been enlarged? Am I misreading something?

  • Sewing Nut October 10, 2013

    That should be though not thought!

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