We must, we must, we must adjust the bust!

Friday 6 December 2013

You might remember I made some Sewing Promises at the beginning of Spring (Southern Hemisphere). One of those was to learn how to perform a bust adjustment - in my case a small bust adjustment (SBA). Yes, I've admitted it out loud: I have a teeny, tiny bust. Some would say non-existent and gotten worse post-breastfeeding. Ughhhh.

It is time to learn to Adjust the Bust!!

I decided to start with Grainline's Tiny Pocket Tank (sans pocket, 'cause that's how I roll).

Do not adjust your screens, this print does warp your vision
I got this great nautical cotton voile in an interesting geometric print that I only realised was flowers when I pre-washed and hung out the fabric. Check it...
I got super lucky and found this on the clearance table for $4.20 p/m. Steel! Cheap as it was I really like it, so I'd like to get the fit of this tank right. I have a habit of obsessively checking out other people's versions when I choose a new pattern to make up. I like to know if there are any consistent fitting issues. 

The one thing that stood out over and over with this one is the potentially poor fit of the upper/high bust and armscye. The versions I found lamented the strange pull lines above the bust and the crowding of the armpit. There is not much fitting to this tank, it's loosely fitted with a bust dart. Seemed like a nice place to start looking to adjust.

So here's where it gets interesting. I've only completed Lesson 1 of the Craftsy Adjust the Bust course, so I've a ways to go 'til I really know what the hell I'm talking about. I've heard in the past though that it's best to choose a pattern size where the bust measurement corresponds to your high bust measurement: it is harder to fit shoulders, upper bust, arms and neck so this is a good way to get that right and then adjust the bust to fit (if needed). The lovely Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch recently blogged about this. The lovely Kathleen Cheetham, presenter of Adjust the Bust, however, suggests picking a pattern size based on a bust measurement of 2 inches larger than your high bust.

Sounds funky, right? Well it does to me when my full bust is only one inch larger than my high bust (I told you, small bust!). This just makes me feel like the thing is gonna be hanging off me around the shoulders and upper chest! I am super keen to continue on with the course to find out what the hell she is thinking!

But it's interesting because I wonder, if her formula had been used, would so many people have had those weird upper chest/armscye fitting issues? Would having a bit more ease according to Kathleen's sizing choice have sorted that?

So what about you, how do you all choose your pattern size for a top? Full bust? High bust? Some other funky algebraically generated formula? Please do share...

P.S. I know you're all waiting with baited breath. Yes, I did fix that crisis with my knitted lace stripe tee. In fact, she's finished! Blog post coming soon...


  1. Just speculating, but the big pattern companies supposedly draft for B cups, so perhaps 2 inches larger than the high bust measurement is roughly the equivalent of if-you-had-a-B-cup,-this-would-be-your-size.

  2. Sigh. I just don't know what to think! Even though I'm apparently a c, I sometimes go with high bust. I find I get those damn horizontal drag lines from bust to armpit which I think is a narrow shoulder thing. I think maybe I should try full bust but maybe go smaller size at shoulders...... Clearly I have no idea what I'm doing! :0

  3. Scared Stitchless8 December 2013 at 20:54

    I am about to delve into the world of SBA as well.
    I thought I might start with the Alma but I'm yet to gather some tutorials and links on doing this so I look forward to following your journey as you get the hang of them.
    Good luck!

  4. Oooh, interested in your course! I actually felt that the idea of choosing the size based on your high bust made more sense. But then would you actually need to to an FBA (not an SBA) or are your better matching your actual bust size? Then I saw Kathleen do her adjustments and that feels like it makes sense too. Well assuming that if it weren't for your small bust you'd have high bust proportions of someone with a B-cup. Does that make sense? Anyhow I'm about to find out!

  5. There do seem to be a whole heap of tutorials out there. I must say I'm liking the comprehensive nature of doing it through this course. Kathleen cover tops/bodices without a dart, those with side darts, and princess seams. The only thing I haven't seen her address (though maybe I missed it) are those pesky under-bust darts originating from the front waistline vertically up to the bust point. Those are the ones I encounter most and I'm still cluless about those. Sigh. Keep me posted if you find a tutorial for those!

  6. Well, I'm still puzzling through that bit! In the class, I was fitted to a size 8 with a C-cup (Go, Me!!) but did my sloper in a size 8B. After that we started on a sheath dress and I also did that in an 8B - neither SBA nor FBA. For me, it turns out that the majority of my bust measurement is in the back, so it's looking like for the most part I'll be able to avoid the bust adjustments by going down a size and then adding a bunch of width in the back. Time will tell. I'm planning on writing at least one post about the experience, after I've had some time to digest it!


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