Today is the second post in a 2 part series on doing full bust adjustments on patterns without any darts. For the first post, we covered a quick and dirty ‘cheater’ method that works well for small full bust adjustments. Today, we will be covering how to do a proper slash and spread full bust adjustment, even when the pattern does not have any darts.
This post is part of a sewalong for the Blackwood Cardigan. You can grab your copy of the Blackwood here.
Do you need a full bust adjustment? The first thing we need to do is measure our high bust and our full bust. To measure the high bust, place the tape around your back, under your armpits, and across your chest ABOVE your breasts. To get your full bust, measure your bust at the nipples as you would normally do.
If the difference between the two measurements is more than 2”, you are a good candidate for a full bust adjustment (FBA). The process can seem daunting, but trust me, learning how to do a FBA can be a total game changer for your sewing practice. You will be amazed at how much better things fit!
Let’s get started!
Start by tracing your pattern piece onto a new sheet of paper. You want to keep the original pattern piece intact. You will need extra paper to fill in the gaps as we cut into our pattern for the FBA. Keep paper, pens, a ruler, and tape handy for this exercise.
Hold the pattern piece up to your body as close as you can to where it will sit when worn and mark where the ‘apex’ is (it’s right where your nipple is). Don’t fret about being 100% accurate, just eyeball it.
Draw three lines. #1 from the apex to the side seam, roughly where a bust dart would be if there was one. #2 from the armscye to the apex and then straight down to the bottom, perpendicular to the bottom edge. #3 out to the front edge or center front fold line (depending on the type of pattern you are working with). The #3 line should be perpendicular to the #2 line and be about 2-4″ up from the bottom edge. Again, just eyeball this to look like the picture below.
Cut line #2 from the bottom, stopping 3/8″ from the edge (or however much the seam allowance is on your pattern). This is indicated by the black dot in the diagram below. You may need to cut into the seam allowance from the edge to get a smooth pivot point here, or you can simply create a small fold. Cut line #1, leaving a small bit of paper intact where line #1 meets line #2 if possible (again, this is for pivoting). Completely cut through line #3. This is called ‘slashing’. Now, ‘spread’ the pieces out as in the diagram below.
You want to focus your attention on the width of the gap in line #2. This width should be half of the difference between your high bust and full bust measurements.
For example, if I have a difference of 3” between my high bust and full bust, I divide that by 2 to get 1.5”. The gap in #2 should measure 1.5″ for me.
Place paper under your pattern piece and measure the gap before securing it in place. the two sides of line #2 should always be parallel. Once taped down, your new dart will fall into place and you can move the little piece from slashing line #3 down to true up the bottom edge of the pattern. Tape these all down onto more paper, filling in the gaps. Trim of excess paper.
Now you have a dart-like shape, but it is not pointing at the right spot. It needs to be re-drawn to point to the apex. Using a pen and ruler, re-draw the dart to point at the apex mark (shown as line #4 in teal below).
OK! We have a pretty great start here, but you are probably wondering – why do we have a dart? Isn’t the whole point to not have any darts? You are correct! We now need to get rid of the dart in order to complete this process. We had to create the dart in order to make the adjustment, and now we are going to redistribute the excess fabric in that dart in order to eliminate it. Alternatively, you can leave in the dart and experiment with darts on knit garments. This can work well for those who need a very large FBA.
Slash open your new dart by cutting it out completely or cutting one edge so you can rotate it.
Cut along the inner side of the original #2 line to the apex mark. Try to leave a little paper for pivoting here. Rotate the side piece out to close the dart. Tape it shut. Buh-bye dart!
Fill in the new gap with paper and leave some extra paper on the side for the next steps.
Now we have a huge waist dart. We need to get rid of this by putting our proper side edge back in. We want to use the original pattern piece to get the side edge. Place the original piece on top of your new creation, lining up side edges. Anchor the pattern at the point where you closed the dart.
Pivot the original pattern piece it until the amount getting cut off the side is equal to the gap you created on the bottom when you closed your dart.
Anchor it all down and trace a new side edge by following the side edge of the original pattern piece.
Draw a curve up from the front bottom edge to the bottom of the side seam. This extra length in the front will help compensate for your breasts pulling the fabric up in the front. Fill in the small triangle at the base of the armscye and trim off the excess paper.
If we compare our original pattern piece (in pink below) with our new one, you can see we have a wedge at the armscye that creates more room for a larger bust and extra length in the front.
In addition to changing the front pattern piece, you should add a little bit of extra to the sides of the sleeves and the front band (if making the Blackwood Cardigan). Add the same amount to either side of the sleeves as you did to the armscye and the same amount of length to the front band as you did to the front of the bodice.
See? That wasn’t too complicated, was it? I know it is a lot of paper and cutting and lines and what not, but once you do one, you will love the results. Soon, FBA’s will be second nature to you!
Remember to also check out this ‘cheater’ FBA method as well. You may find that is all you need!
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