A note on the FBA
Some time ago I wrote about adding fabric wedges below the waist, especially so there’s enough fabric to cover a large front or back.
The best known reason for adding a fabric wedge above the waist is the Full Bust Alteration. (Lots of possibilities on the upper back and sleeves too, but I’m not going to talk about them here.)
I don’t need an FBA myself, so have no practical experience. It’s a bit silly for me to comment. But I am intrigued by it as an alteration so have been noticing information. Here’s some of what I’ve found, in case it’s of use to anyone.
There’s a list of links about the FBA by Debbie Cook at Pattern Review.
Adding enough fabric for larger cup sizes is not just a matter of adding length and width to the front pattern piece. A good FBA adds a wedge starting from the armhole, so the added fabric is in the middle of the pattern.
Here’s an example of the wedge in position, and it’s relation to the added length and width.
Before – left, after – right.
(wedge about 2 inches)
The photo shows the usual FBA, described in detail in Palmer and Alto ‘Fit For Real People’ p.140 onwards, and also in many McCall’s Palmer-Pletsch patterns. Palmer-Pletsch also have a DVD : ‘Full Busted ? Sew Clothes that Fit !’‘.
Basically, slit up from waist to bust point.
Then angle across to the armhole stitching line at the notch.
Armhole not shoulder, as you may not want to increase the width of the upper pattern. Some people with larger cup sizes may like to open up a wedge to the shoulder as well.
Spread horizontally by the amount needed to go round the bust.
There’s no way of knowing beforehand exactly how large a change to make. It depends on your shape and your personal preferences – how much ease you think looks and feels right for you.
I’m getting more comfortable with the idea of slashing up muslins – it’s the reason we use the cheapest possible fabric ! Write on them, cut them up, keep them for reference. And I’m more patient with not getting fit right at first try.
Bigger darts put more curve in the flat fabric. You’ve added fabric at the centre of the pattern piece, but don’t want the side and waist seams to be longer. The added wedge of fabric also changes the shape of the armhole and the angle of the side seam.
McCall’s fitting pattern 2718 has different front patterns for 5 cup sizes. To make the armhole difference clear, here’s a tracing of the stitching lines for A cup (black) and DD cup (red). (Size 14, the shoulders and necklines are the same.)
The DD front pattern is wider, and the bust dart deeper. But also the armhole shape has changed, and the angle of the side seam. Notice the ‘scoop’ of the armhole – the lower edge of the armhole isn’t horizontal. The changed armhole shape introduces a wedge of fabric from the armhole where more fabric is not needed, to the centre of the pattern, where it is.
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Some people who need a larger front pattern also need a larger armhole and sleeve head, or wider shoulders. But not everyone does. So those are separate adjustments.
If your cup size is larger than B (the size commercial patterns are made for), but your shoulders are not large, the pattern shoulders may fit you better if you buy patterns according to your upper chest/ high bust measurement, not your bust. Vogue size charts for Misses include the upper chest measure, but the Women’s chart doesn’t. I e-mailed them to ask about this, but they didn’t reply.
Debbie Cook’s list of links mentioned before includes several links about choosing pattern size by high bust or full bust measurement.
Ann Rowley prefers to buy her patterns by bust size and do a narrow shoulder adjustment, rather than buying by chest/ high bust size and doing an FBA. Here is her tutorial on the narrow shoulder adjustment.
Ann explains her choice by relating it to her own measurements. You only need to do an FBA or narrow shoulders if your shoulders are small relative to your bust. From Ann’s post, it looks as if the best method depends on :
- if your hips are smaller, like your shoulders – buy pattern by chest/ high bust and do an FBA,
- if your hips are larger, like your bust – buy by bust size and do a narrow shoulder adjustment.
If you’re interested in this, it’s best to read Ann’s comments about why her approach is best for her measurements, and her suggestions for other body shapes. This may be another area where you need to try both to see which is best for you !
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The standard FBA method works for tops with fitted armholes and front shaping darts. Debbie Cook has written tutorials for doing FBAs on different styes of tops, which are here.
And there are many other special cases. Do a web search to get over 3,000 links with examples and suggestions to explore !
I hope you don’t have much difficulty with getting a good fit
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P.S. And here’s Imogen Lamport’s advice for people with large cup sizes on how to look good. Also watch her videos for ideas – her bust isn’t the first thing you notice about her !
P.P.S. More resources :
Silhouette patterns are for B, C, D cup sizes.
McCall’s 2718 fitting pattern has front pattern pieces for A, B, C, D, DD cup sizes. (Buy by chest measure, which is on the Butterick and Vogue fitting charts though not the McCall’s one).
Connie Crawford has a basic blouse block for F, G cup sizes.
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Links available February 2011Explore posts in the same categories: fit of clothes