A quick guide to bust adjustments


Most people will find they won't fit a pattern right out of the package and may need at least a few tweaks to get a custom fit. This is a simple guide to show you how to do two of the more common bust alterations. Although this is not an in-depth guide to bust adjustments, I hope this will be helpful for anyone who may need some guidance when performing these alterations. If you have never done a FBA (full bust adjustment) and you don't know if you need one, I recommend checking out some of the more in-depth resources listed at the end of this article.

There are other alterations you may need to do that will not be covered here. A book on fitting garments is great to have on hand and will make your clothing look so much more professional and tailored. Although there are many great fitting books, I recommend checking out The Palmer/Pletsch Complete Guide to Fitting.

Before you start these pattern alterations, place a piece of paper underneath your work so you can fill in the spaces after you have made the adjustments.

There are different methods of knowing whether or not you need a FBA. Many people recommend choosing your size based on your high bust rather than your full bust measurement and then doing a full bust adjustment on the pattern. This is where I would recommend starting out, but if you have very broad shoulders, this may not be the best way to achieve a good fit. In either case, you will want to sew a test muslin before cutting into your fashion fabric.
1. Draw a line from the bottom of the pattern to the
bust apex and then to the armhole.

2. Draw a second line from the side seam, at the
center of the bust dart, to the bust apex.

3. Draw a horizontal line from the center front to the
first line.
4. Cut through the first line until you reach the armhole,
leaving a hinge. Spread the pattern as much as you
need to add.
5. Cut the second line through the dart until you reach
the bust apex, leaving a hinge. Open the dart, swinging
the side seam back down so that it is parallel with the
first line that you cut.
6 . Cut the horizontal line all the way through and shift
this section down so that it is level with the edge of the
7. Redraw the bust dart, hemline and center front.

Many people find they need to lower the dart on a pattern. It's a simple alteration and makes quite a difference on the finished garment. To find out if you will need to lower the dart, measure from your shoulder to your bust apex and then match this measurement to the pattern. If the dart point on the pattern is higher than your bust apex, lower the dart.

1. Place a piece of paper underneath the dart of the front
pattern piece. Draw a box around the dart and cut it

2. Shift the dart up or down so that the point of the
dart is level with the most prominent point of your
bust. Secure the dart to the paper underneath and re-
draw the side seam.


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