I am very excited about this. I’ve received several emails asking how certain patterns, but especially Parfait can be adjusted for a smallish bust measurement. Well, I’m pleased to announce that the beautiful and talented Gertie has written a wonderful tutorial on doing a small bust adjustment and has graciously allowed me to repost it here for you all.
Here’s the instructions from Gertie:
Here’s what you need:
- a colored pen or pencil
- two pattern pieces: the front bodice and the front midriff
- seam gauge or clear ruler
In a nutshell, what you have to do is try on the pattern tissue, pinch out bust fullness, and then transfer those changes on the flat pattern. Make any sense?
To start, we’re going to do a tissue fitting of the front bodice. At the seam allowances, pin together the front bodice pattern piece and the midriff piece. Very important: for the fitting, wear the bra that you plan to wear while wearing the dress. Also layer on top a very snug camisole or slip that so you can pin the pattern to you.
Pin the pattern piece to your camisole at center front, the side seam, and the top of the bodice, where the strap tab will connect. Don’t forget to account for the 5/8″ seam allowance.
As you can see, I’ve got some bagginess going on in the bust.
And on the side. See how the paper is wrinkling and standing away from my body? We need to get that sucker in.
We’re going to temporarily pin the bagginess out in 2 places: 1) the side bust, where a bust dart would usually be, and 2) the top of the bust, extending from the armhole.
The first thing you need to do, though, is to mark the apex of your bust. Books often refer to the apex as the fullest part of your bust. An easier way to think of it is where your nipple is. There, I said it. All decorum is out the window now!
Use a pin to mark the apex. (I forgot to mark mine while I was wearing it, but you get the point, right? [Hee hee. Point.])
Now, start pinching out extra fullness in the bust, first at the side, then at the armhole. Have your tucks radiate toward the apex. Here’s how it will look:
And a view from the side:
When you’re satisfied with your fit, take the tissue off and set it on your work space. Mark your apex with a circle. Use a seam gauge to measure the depth of each of your tucks at the widest part of the tuck. (You only measure one side, so you’re getting half the amount you tucked out).
Record your measurements. Here are mine:
Tuck at armhole: 5/8 inch
Tuck at side bust: 1 – 3/8 inch
Keep your measurements handy, and remove all pins from the tissue. Smooth out the front bodice piece. Now you’re going to mark two lines to alter on your pattern.
First, imagine where a bust dart would be if this pattern had one. Extend a line horizontally from the apex point.
Second, mark a point halfway up the armhole. Extend a line from the apex to this point.
Cut these lines, leaving a hinge at the apex.
Overlap each of the lines the amount of your measurements you recorded earlier. Tape the overlapped pieces down.
As you can see, there will be a little wrinkling around the apex. Eliminate all the wrinkles you can and then smoosh the piece down with your iron so it lies flat. (Yes, smoosh is the technical term.)
Finally, true up the lines on your pattern. Tape the altered pattern piece down to a clean sheet of paper. Draw a new side seam and armhole seam to smooth out the jagged edges. You can see where I’ve done this in blue marker.
This is your new pattern piece! I’m going to make a muslin of the two patterns pieces we used earlier. (Actually, it’s fabric from an old curtain. I’m just like Maria Von Trapp! Scarlett O’Hara!) If you’re using expensive fabric for your dress, I suggest you do the same.
See? Nice and fitted!
That’s all there is to it. You can use these principles on lots of other patterns as well. The method I used for the Macaron dress is a little different (since the front bodice piece is longer), and I’ll do a tutorial on that one as well.
Let me know in the comments if you have questions!
Update: I forgot to mention two other changes you’ll need to make so that the new, adjusted front bodice piece will fit with the rest of the pattern. Here’s all you need to do:
1. Lay the front facing over the top of the new front bodice piece. You’ll notice that it will no longer match up between where the strap attaches and the side seam. All you need to do is tuck out the extra width from the facing piece and tape or pin it in place. Now it will match up with your front bodice piece.
2. The other piece affected is the back bodice piece. The back bodice edge will now be too long for the front bodice piece. So, just lay the two pieces (the front and back bodice) next to each other, as they would be sewn, matching them first at the bottom of the pieces. You’ll have some extra height on the back bodice piece. Measure how much extra you have. Mine was 3/4″. So I just used my clear ruler to shorten the back piece by 3/4″ along the top. Your back piece will be shorter now, but I found that this worked just fine.
Thanks Gertie! Again, be sure to check out her fantastic new sewing blog.