#Fit# Bust Adjustments on a Gathered Bodice

Written by Eléonore

We’ve previously demonstrated how to make adjustments on a princess seamed bodice for patterns like Coquelicot, so today we want to demonstrate how to do an FBA or SBA on a gathered bodice like the Orchidée dress and blouse.

This tutorial will allow you to get a better fit with the Orchidée pattern, but it will work for any gathered bodice.

First, you will need to determine whether you need a bust adjustment, and if so, how much. To do this, it’s very helpful to make a muslin, since the adjustment amount can vary depending on the silhouette of the garment, your body type, and your preferred ease.

Bust adjustments are not always necessary! Some patterns with a loose fit will work for a wide variety of body types without any need for modification. Depending on your personal style, you may choose to just size up or down.

You’ll want to make sure your muslin fits properly through the shoulders—that is, the armhole seam sits at the edge of your shoulders and doesn’t fall towards your arm. Likewise, the seam should not be sitting too high on the shoulder (therefore interfering with the movement of the arm).

  • If your muslin feels too tight at the bust and you notice horizontal drag lines, you’ll need a full bust adjustment. Slash the bodice vertically on a few centimeters at the bust apex, on each breast, and measure the gap that forms naturally. This distance is your bust adjustment value.
  • If your muslin bags at the bust, you’ll need a small bust adjustment. Pinch and pin the fabric excess on each breast until you get to a fit that you like: the amount of fabric pinned is the value to remove.

Full Bust Adjustment (FBA)

1/ On the front bodice, mark the bust apex (the point that corresponds to the tip of the bust).

2/ Draw a vertical line (parallel to the grain) connecting the bottom of the bodice to the bust apex. Draw a line in the same way connecting the bust apex to the middle of the shoulder, and another line connecting the bust apex to the armhole notch. Finally, draw a horizontal line (perpendicular to the grain line) between the first vertical line and the center front of the bodice.

3/ Slash the bodice from the bottom vertical line through the apex and towards the armhole, leaving small hinge at the armhole. Pivot the piece towards the left until the gap at the bust apex is equal to the adjustment amount.

4/ Tape together and secure the lower outer and higher outer side you just adjusted. Now slash through the line at the shoulder towards the bust apex. Use the point of the lower outer piece as a pivot point and pivot the entire outer side of the bodice towards the right until the lower vertical lines (the ones you previously slashed) are parallel with each other.

5/ Slash and spread the horizontal line on the inner side of the bodice, until both sides of the waistline are aligned.

6/ Take a new sheet of pattern paper and trace the edges of the bodice. Draw the gather marks and the armhole notch again.

Don’t forget to adjust the button loop to match the bodice!


Small Bust Adjustment (SBA)

1/ On the front bodice, mark the bust apex (the point that corresponds to the tip of the bust).

2/ Draw a vertical line (parallel to the grain) connecting the bottom of the bodice to the bust apex. Draw a line in the same way connecting the bust apex to the middle of the shoulder, and another line connecting the bust apex to the armhole notch. Finally, draw a horizontal line (perpendicular to the grain line) between the first vertical line and the center front of the bodice.

3/ Slash the bodice from the bottom vertical line through the apex and towards the armhole, leaving small hinge at the armhole. Pivot the piece towards the right until the overlap at the bust apex is equal to the adjustment amount.

4/ Tape together and secure the lower outer and higher outer side you just adjusted. Now slash through the line at the shoulder towards the bust apex. Use the point of the lower outer piece as a pivot point and pivot the entire outer side of the bodice towards the left until the lower vertical lines (the ones you previously slashed) are parallel with each other.

5/ Slash the horizontal line on the inner side of the bodice and push the inner bottom piece up, until the both sides of the waistline are aligned.

6/ Take a new sheet of pattern paper and trace the edges of the bodice. Draw the gather marks and the armhole notch again.

Don’t forget to adjust the button loop to match the bodice!


We hope you’ve found this tutorial helpful. Happy sewing and cheers to a perfect fit!

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