Wednesday 5 March 2014

Finally... finally!

My big SBA project started what feels like months ago. Wait! It was months ago!

And here she is... my Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank, in a nautical, geo floral cotton voile. Without the tiny pocket, because tiny pockets aren't really my thang.

First SBA finally out of the way and what an epic journey.

I finally got down to starting the Craftsy Adjust the Bust course late last year. It all made relative sense, but there were a few oddities, peculiarities, departures from the popular opinion. And an annoyingly long delay in having questions answered (hence the Little Top that FINALLY Could).

There are regularly occurring discussions all over blogland about choosing a pattern size to make  alterations as painfree as possible and I know that the trend for bodice sizing is often towards picking the pattern size with a bust measurement the same as your high bust measurement.

Theory? The shoulders/armhole/neck/upper chest areas can be difficult to fit and so it's easier to pick a size that is likely to fit there and then make bust adjustments accordingly. Hmmmm. Seems to make good sense.

Well this course does not buy into that theory. Not that I could figure anyway. You are instructed to pick a size with a bust measurement that equals your high bust meaurement, plus 2 inches! For me, that means 33" + 2" = 35" (corresponds to the Size 6, and I cut a straight size 6). I've never done that in my life - I've always chosen based on my full bust measurement (34"), but clearly I wouldn't have chosen to undertake this course if I didn't have fit issues with that particular method.

So here goes - whilst not spelt out I am guessing the theory is that generally*, at least Big 4, patterns are drafted for a B cup, where the full bust is 2" larger than the underbust/high bust. I guess the size selection premise is that even though you do not possess a B cup this does not mean your shoulder/arm/upper chest/neck proportions are different to someone with a B cup.

So all you have to do if you pick this size is adjust the actual "cup" area up or down, depending on how generous the universe was feeling when handing out boobs (not very in my case) and the rest of the related proportions will all be good.

I quite like the logic in that. Just because I have small boobs does not mean that my shoulders or back are narrower than someone with a decent set. I just can't fill out the boob repositories. If I chose based on my full or upper bust alone, I may end up with a too tight back/shoulder/armscye/neck hole.

So, since the pattern size is one inch bigger than my actual full bust measurement, the SBA process involves removing 1 inch from the bust. But be warned! The actual process removes an inch from the entire front bodice piece, from the bust point down to the hem. If you do not want to lose width from the waistline and hips, this may become a problem. My waist is teeny, so that didn't become a problem and since the top is swingy the hips did not become problematic either. I wonder, though, how it would go with other, more fitted, bodices. I guess you'd simply grade between sizes.

What I was concerned about and asked of the course instructor, is that if the entire extra, un-needed inch is removed from the front bodice only won't this effect the side seams? My unaltered back piece looked huge against my altered front piece and I was concerned this would cause the side seams to be "pulled" to the front. Instructor's (eventual!) response: "should be fine if you chose the right size based on my directions".

I say "phooey" to that! I definitely think my side seams sit more to the front now and from side on the top swings well out to the front. There were a few photos I took that I didn't include because I looked pregnant from the side!

Bit "maternity"?
But you know what? The bust fits! I'm not sure if it's all totally working as I notice drape lines from the bust point down to the side hip in these photos. Is that normal? Also I moved my bust points slightly too far in and the dart points are right on top of the apex of my boobs, instead of 0.5-1" back. Will fix.

What I really noticed, though, is how well the high bust fits! I have seen many Tiny Pocket Tank makers lament the weird horizontal pull lines above the bust to the armscye area. Go on, Google it, you'll see! I did not get any of these and the armhole is very comfortable without any pulling. So maybe the size selection thing made a positive difference to the fit here. I'd have normally picked the size down and that may have resulted in those weird pulls from being too small.

However, as you can see from side on there is a bit of "gaping" around the front armhole that reveals my bra strap. I found the armscye shape really weird in this pattern and will simply redraft it. Listen to me! Redraft! I'd never have attempted redrafting a year ago.

I raised the neckline by almost 2 inches!! This neckline is cut seriously low which may work if you have boobs or a lovely high bust, but my high bust is bony and does not do low cut well. I'm glad I raised it and I might even raise it a little more for future makes. I also think the hem length may be slightly unflattering on me as it hits at my widest point, so I'll play with that a bit.

Because, yes, even though it was an arduous make (mainly because it took weeks, yes weeks, to get my questions answered), I do quite like the breezy, swingy loveliness of this top. It suits my aesthetic well, and I'd be happy to work on it to create the illusive tank/top TNT. And you know what? I wore it for the whole day on photo day and realised I never once yanked, tweaked, or otherwise fidgeted with this top all day long. Win!

*It is best to check the cup size an individual pattern company drafts for as there are variations. For example, Colette Patterns, whose dress/top patterns will never be purchased by me as they draft for a C cup. That's way too much adjusting in my book.


  1. Goodness! How epic! It does look lovely on and it's truly awesome fabric. I know you've not got heaps of spare time for sewing experimentation, but are you tempted to make another one using the other method of size selection and see what kind of fit you'd get? The armscye gapage isn't that obvious either btw - no flashing! :)

  2. So timely - just last night I was looking at this and the Scout Tee patterns, considering whether to buy. Thanks for some great information! I love this - the fabric is amazing and I think it looks great on you with the adjustments you made.

  3. Well done! And smart to try SBA on a simpler pattern (which looks awesome, BTW! Love your fabric choice!!! ). And thank you for clearly spelling out how to choose your correct base pattern size when attempting any kind of bust adjustment! I think many tutorials out their skip that part... " ok... So I know I am a C cup and need to do a 1inch FBA.... But what size do I start out with?"

    I'm at the end of a major fitting project as well, BHL Georgia dress. It's been very slow going but I'm almost there and it was worth it!

  4. Can't wait to see your Georgia, such an awesome dress! And yes, my pattern pick for my first SBA was indeed purposeful. I figured it would be a gentle entry into this type of adjustment and it was. I want to do a comparison of picking by my high bust measurement alone to see whether in fact the logic does win out.

  5. Thanks Gail! Good to know the info helped someone and made some level of sense :)

  6. Sarah, I am so tempted. It's exactly what I was considering the whole way through. Make another with an alternate sizing pick and see which one wins! I would seriously consider it as once you know how to do the SBA it's all pretty simple. But I can't imagine conducting an SBA on a smaller size - whatever method you choose is going to remove fabric and if you start small where you gonna go? Is there another way to do an SBA? The method seemed consistent with others I've seen, so I can't figure how it would work on a small size. Hmmmm... Do I really have time? I have Negroni v2 calling.

  7. Thank you! Funnily enough I didn't realise it was a floral till I pre-washed and hung it up to dry, then is became apparent! I just thought it was a cool geometric pattern.

  8. Fabulous Jillian ;) I've raised the same qn as well - if someone who is bigger than a B/C, needs to measure their high bust & then do a FBA, surely I take a size bigger (for a B cup draft) & do an SBA to keep the upper bodice fit? It's working ok so far, but essentially, I've been individually muslining everything ;) I'll try out my theory again & post results at some stage ;)

  9. Thank you! It's all so bloody complicated isn't it??? I have so many more questions in the time since writing this post and it seems there are very many answers and options. I think trial and error is always a good option! Thanks for stopping by.

  10. J- this is freaking awesome! That is the best fit I have seen on the tiny pocket tank by far (mine suffered from the wrinkles too). You look fierce and that course intrigues me... :D

  11. It was worth the travails because you have a fabulous tank - and I really love that fabric. I must remember to use the phrase "boob repositories" at the next available opportunity :-)

  12. Check this link out

    It uses the pivot method and I've only ever seen it on this website - there is no slashing just adjusting the pattern at the side seams only. I didn't watch it all the way through, but it seems similar (but opposite) to their fba (which makes sense) and I've not seen this method anywhere else before.

    I reckon it's worth trying (pffft man sewing can always wait - unless it's his birthday I guess.....) - good luck :)

  13. Thanks for that Sarah, I'll take a look. Man sewing can usually wait, but I feel uninspired selfish sewing-wise and so Negroni it shall be.

  14. Thanks Alex, and feel free to coin that phrase whenever the mood takes you ;)

  15. Agree that it was worth the trials because this looks great and seems to fit you so well. Thank goodness you finally got a response. I must go back to Craftsy and see if I ever got a response on my course. Oh and I like the little kick it has at the bottom too!


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