The Side Effects Of A Bust Adjustment

I've been hard at work on the new Hawthorn dress from Colette Patterns and it looks like I'm finally in the home stretch! Hopefully I will have a finished dress to show off by the end of this week.

Today I want to talk about something I haven't seen covered so far in all of the bust adjustment tutorials I've seen online - how to deal with the unwanted "side effects" these adjustments can cause!

I won't go over how to do a Full or Small Bust Adjustment because these are covered in detail elsewhere. For instructions specific to the Hawthorn, check out this tutorial from the Colette Patterns blog. This should also work for any standard bodice with side or waist darts. Megan Nielsen also has excellent tutorials for an FBA and SBA on her blog.

Since Colette drafts for a C cup and I am barely an A, I automatically know I have to do an SBA or suffer an ill-fitting, saggy-boobed finished garment. And I want this dress to look like the awesomeness that it is! So I followed the instructions on the Coletterie and made a muslin, pinned out the excess fabric at the bust, and measured how much I need to take out. This turned out to be a half inch. Then I drew my lines, sliced as instructed, overlapped, and taped it back up.

This is what my pattern looked like after following the instructions:

You can see the difference between the lines of the original pattern and my new adjusted pattern (ignore the extra paper at the left side and bottom - the red line is what it looked like before making further adjustments). I'm going to assume in the instructions below that the dress fits you fine at the waist - if not, you'll want to adjust that first.

The main problem is that the Small Bust Adjustment shortened the bodice and made the waist much smaller. It also raised the apex of the dart and moved it more toward the center, which may or may not be a problem depending on your bust.

If you're doing a Full Bust Adjustment, you will find the opposite - your bodice will now be longer and larger at the waist. 

I started by adding the 1/2" that I took out back to the length and width of the bodice. You will want to add back the same measurement that you used when doing your SBA. I will call this measurement "x" since it will be different for everyone. To do this:
  1. Cut across the lengthen/shorten line and make a x" gap. 
  2. Add a strip of paper behind your pattern and use a ruler to make sure your pattern lines are matching up at center front and that you're adding an even amount across the bodice.
  3. Tape in place. 
  4. Add another strip of paper along the side seam and tape it down.
  5. Make a mark x" to the left of the side seam at the waistline. Use a ruler to connect it to the top of the side seam and draw a line. Connect your waist seam to your new side seam.
  6. Trim off any excess paper at the side.
If you're doing an FBA, you'll want to do the same thing except you'll be removing length and width. Cut along the lengthen/shorten line and overlap by the amount you need to shorten, and then take that same amount out of the waistline at the side seam. 

Here is what mine looked like after doing this:

At this point, you'll definitely want to make a muslin. I found that even after making all of these adjustments, a few things still weren't quite right:
Now you'll want to measure your side seams and waist (minus the dart) and check to see if they match the pattern pieces they will be sewn to. Since I didn't lengthen my bodice back to its original length (I just added 1/2"), I needed to shorten my back bodice to match. I also needed to take in the waist of my skirt to match the waist of my bodice.

My final pattern piece:


Now I'm going to ask what you may have been thinking this whole post: Isn't there an easier way to do this?!? Looking at my final pattern piece above, it looks like all this process did is make the dart smaller, lower the armscye, and take in the side seams. 

Coming to this realization after all that work kind of made me want to do this...

So let me ask the more experienced sewers out there - how would you deal with this? Is there an easier method that works just as well for you?

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