Thursday, 25 July 2013


OK sew -alongers, this blog post we are getting into the nitty gritty of the Billie Jean pattern, the serious side of business, just kidding don't panic!  
I will be showing you how to do a Full Bust Adjustment aka (FBA) on a princess seam bodice for the bodacious of bust! 
It may seem a little bit mysterious and you may be slightly panic stricken at the thought of doing an FBA, but i assure you it is easy! And i am going to walk you through the process step by step, so read on!

So  how do you know if you need to do an FBA on your pattern?

Simple! When you check the size chart on the back of the pattern envelope, and you  have noticed that your bust measurements fall into the larger size column, compared to the rest of your body measurements - this means, then you most likely will need to do one. But if this isn't giving you any clues or your still not sure,  here are  a few other ways to know if you need to do an FBA: 

* When you are trying to close the bodice of the dress and you can't!  And while doing so the girls are getting squashed flat!

* The waistline is sitting higher at the front then the back of the bodice.
*The dart apex is hitting you too high.
* Your fabric is  pulling around your arm syce and basically  all over the place.
* Just an  all round feeling of un-comfort whilst  wearing the bodice.

How do I calculate my FBA?
Basically all you need to do to calculate your FBA, is just figure out what size you would be if you used your bust measurement. Then  compare this  it to what size you would be if you used your other  measurements ( waist, hip) to determine your size. You will then need to measure this distance between those two sizes on your bodice front pattern piece. The total distance measured  is how big your FBA will be.

Tools you need to complete an FBA:
  • your side front & centre front  bodice paper pattern pieces
  • Pattern paper/ tracing paper 
  • a pencil 
  • a ruler 
  • Sticky tape 
  • scissors

OK,  let's begin shall we...

Draw your slash lines:

We will start with the bodice side front pattern piece, and draw our 4 slash lines needed to make the adjustments:
Draw the first slash line vertically from the waistline and up to the where the bust is at its fullest. Mark this line - LINE 1.
The second slash line you will continue to draw line 1 diagonally up from the bust point towards the armhole, roughly about 1/3 of the way up the armhole. 
Mark this line - LINE 2
The third slash line is drawn diagonally from the full bust point and out towards the side seam.
 Mark this line - LINE 3.
The final slash line is drawn 1'' up from the waistline and out into the  princess seam. 
Mark the line - LINE 4.

Cut and spread

Now that we have our slash lines drawn we can cut and spread them 
Starting with line 1, cut it starting from the waist,  and continue cutting up to  line 2, stopping just before the edge of the pattern piece at the armhole.

Starting from the side seam, cut line 3, stopping just before the full bust point. In cutting line 3, we have created another pivot point on the pattern piece. 
Sticky tape down the front  princess seam section onto your pattern paper.

This is where your FBA calculations come into play and are used to create the FBA adjustments! 
 Increase the opening at line 1 using your FBA calculation.For this example i will use 1'' to demonstrate. It is important to increase this gap evenly ( 1'') all the way down line 1.
Sticky tape it  down to secure the gap as you go.

Cut line 4  horizontally  and bring it down to match the bodice waistline. Remember to keep the spacing the same ( 1'') as you just did all down line 1, and tape it down.

Now draw a line extending line 3 all the way to both edges of the princess seam.

Stick this side front pattern piece onto another a new  piece of pattern paper and cut it out.

Starting at the side seam, cut line 3 ( through the new paper)  and stop at the full bust point. 

Cut into the extension of line 3 at the front of the bodice, at the princess seam, again stopping just before the full bust point. This creates another pivot point on the pattern piece.

Sticky tape  close the  line 3(dart) matching up the side seams, this will then open up at the front pivot point we just created at the front of the pattern piece.

Tape it down again onto another new piece of pattern paper, this will fill in the curve and small front opening.

The final step for us to do on the side front panel is to reduce the waistline back to what it originally is meant to be.
So you simply bring the seam allowance line at the side seam in by the amount you increased your bust by. Draw a brand new cutting line 5/8'', from the new seam line. 

Last time for the side front bodice pattern piece, sticky tape it down and cut it out on some new pattern paper!

Ok sew-alongers we are on the home stretch!
 All we have left to do now, is alter the centre front bodice piece to match the new Side Front panel. And this is super easy....

So measure 1″ up from the waistline and draw a horizontal line – this matches up with your  line 4 on your side front panel. Do the same for your line 3.

You can  measure  the seam allowance to find the same point on both pattern pieces.
Go ahead and cut out your new lines, 3 and 4 on your centre front piece and spread  them out so that they equal the same measurements that they were increased by on the side front bodice. 

Tape it all down onto some new pattern paper, and cut it out your new FBA'D centre front bodice pattern pieces!!!

All done folks and not really that scary at all, is it? 

That's all for this sew-along post my friends, but if you have any questions head on over to Facebook page , or  Tweet using #billiejeansewalong or post up your progress photos on Flickr.

Next up  we will be getting into the fun stuff of the sew-along!  ''Assembling the bodice"


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