I see a lot of talk on discussion boards about the ubiquitous full bust adjustment (or FBA, for short). It seems that every time I turn around, someone else is making a FBA or learning how to make a FBA.
FBA, FBA, FBA!! (cue Jan Brady style whining)
I have always thought I leaned slightly more toward the pessimistic than the optimistic, but the fact that my body bears this out is disconcerting. I have no choice but to view the cup as half empty! :)
Not that you would know it by taking a quick poll on the PR or SG discussion boards, but there are other women out there that, like me, are not so amply endowed. So,what is a frustrated member of the IBTC to do? Well, the small bust adjustment (or SBA) is usually the answer. However, most fitting books simply state that the SBA is the opposite of the FBA. How lame. I mean, honestly, could that be any more dismissive?
Never fear, as self-appointed protector of the "almost A cup" crowd, I will take you through the SBA on a darted pattern. In the future, I will show you how to reduce the bust on a princess seam.
SBA - Step by (tiny) Step
I will illustrate this tutorial using a pattern that I am using for my SWAP (McCall's 3489). Here is a picture of the front bodice piece. Notice that there is a diagonal bust dart that starts at the side seam and a vertical waist dart. Both these darts are drawn in black on the traced copy. All lines added to complete the SBA will be drawn in red.
Fold the bust dart legs together and crease along the centre of the dart. Unfold and draw a line along the fold in the centre of the bust dart. (labeled L1)
Draw a vertical line, parallel to the grain line through the centre of the waist dart. Extend beyond the dart a bit. (labeled L2)
Draw a horizontal line from the point of the bust dart toward centre front. This line should intersect L2 at a 90 degree angle. (labeled L3)
Mark a point approximately 1/3 of the way up the armscye from the underarm seam. Draw a line from this point to intersect at the crossing point of L2 and L3. (labeled L4)
Starting at the side seam, cut along L1 and on through L3, leaving a small notch of paper at the intersection point of L3 and L2.
Cut from the hemline along L2. Without stopping, continue to cut along L4, leaving a small notch of paper at the armscye seam line. Also cut from the armscye edge to this notch.
The bust dart can now be reduced by any amount or eliminated all together. Since I am barely an A cup, I tend to remove the dart completely. Just pivot the pattern at the bust dart notch to overlap the paper. The legs of the original bust dart should now lie on top of each other at the side seam edge. If you still wish to have a portion of the dart remain, just overlap the paper by a smaller amount. When you are satisfied use tape to secure this alteration.
Now pivot the pattern at the armscye notch and overlap in the middle. The edges of what used to be L2 should be parallel to each other to restore the proper grain line. Once again, use tape to secure this alteration.
Notice that there is an extension of paper on the right hand lower edge. To fix this, cut horizontally through this extension and shift it upwards, to make the bottom edges meet.
Draw a new thinner waist dart along the old overlapping dart lines. You should be able to see the old lines on the paper. Stop at the bottom and top points where the lines cross.
The entire front pattern piece is now shorter in length. This is caused by the removal of the excess fabric across the bust which is unnecessary due to the smaller cup size. Less fabric is required to cover a smaller bust. The width of the pattern piece is reduced as well. However, since the waist dart is now smaller, there should be no net loss of fabric to fit around the waist in the final garment.
Notice that the armscye has changed in shape slightly. If the garment is sleeveless and has an armhole facing, this facing will need to be redrafted. Simply smooth out the new armhole edge and create a new facing. This is done by tracing the armscye, along with a few inches of shoulder and side seam. I make my facings at least 2 1/2" wide. You can see a comparison of the old and new facings at right.
Also notice that there is a small wedge of paper protruding from the outer edge of the bodice, where the bust dart was removed. Smooth this area out before cutting out with the garment fabric.
Check that the newly drafted front bodice matches the shape of the back bodice piece along the side seam. If it all lines up nicely, you have done a perfect SBA. You can see the difference between the original front bodice piece and the new altered front bodice piece.