Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Please help with fitting issues; large FBA needed

I made a blouse for my daughter for Christmas, without her having the opportunity to try it while under construction, and without the benefit of either accurate measurements or a muslin. See my earlier blog entry, on Christmas Day.

I saw this first blouse, version A, for her as hopefully a wearable muslin, so I didn't use the fabric she initially chose.
I  used size 12 based on upper bust measurement and made a FBA of about 4cms, hoping that this, in addition to the quoted 10cms ease, would allow enough room for her 32F/G bust.
This is the finished blouse on my model.

She was ill at Christmas so I didn't see her but she sent me a photo and comments:

My daughter initially said about blouse:
The blouse was slightly too short at sides - where curved hem slopes up.
Too low in neckline - would need to wear camisole or vest.
Liked blouse overall.

My initial conclusions
I thought that the blouse was too big (because she had room to wear a vest) and that I could perhaps make a size smaller and maybe raise the neck at front, as well as lengthen at sides. I hadn't seen the blouse other than in a photo she took while ill.

Update on blouse for daughter

However, I visited my daughter last weekend. She told me that her husband really likes the blouse and she was intending to wear it to an interview the next day. Even after my comments, this was still her intention though she said she'd wear a jacket.

I didn't have much time and no pins etc (my daughter doesn't, yet, sew) though she did have a tape measure, labelled centimetres on both sides.

Sewing is peculiar as there is a mix between centimetres and inches all over the place. Here we buy fabric in metres. We use a lot of American patterns in inches. European patterns are in cms. Although both have conversions. In the UK, we buy fuel for our cars in litres but our road signs are in miles and yards and fuel consumption is calculated as miles per gallon. I'm afraid that while I can use metric measurements and did when I was working - always having to convert to imperial for my patients, I actually think in imperial. I'm not sure how much sewing a seam allowance at 5/8" or 1.5cm makes the overall size different - 1.5cm and 5/8" are not direct equivalents. In my sewing classes we use metric. As it happens, I use 1.5cm seam allowances and try to use metric.

Anyway, I digress. I measured my daughter and took a note of all the sizes. Because I think in inches, I'm less likely to alter a measurement to what I think it 'should' be or to what I think sounds better! I therefore recommend a centimetre tape measure to those in the US! The sizes I used to sew her blouse were not very accurate as they had changed since I last measured her and her recent measurements were self taken which can't be accurate.

What about the blouse itself?
She tried on the blouse for me and there a couple of quickly snatched photos- having young children around isn't conducive to lengthy consultation!
It was too tight across the bust. She was wearing it with a camisole but there was little or no ease, certainly not the 10cms quoted in the design, though of course I knew that was going to be reduced by my probably smaller than required FBA. The diagonal lines are obvious.

The shoulder width was slightly too much, but probably not a big issue.

The blouse was also tight across the back, while wearing it with the camisole. Interestingly, my daughter didn't find it tight. And it doesn't really look tight in this photo - maybe it's all about the level of ease we like. It felt tight when I pulled it to see how much ease there was.
There was gaping at the neckline.  What she meant by too low, is that as she bent forwards, everything under the blouse would be visible.

 The darts were not pointing to the correct place.  The vertical darts were a good 5 cms (2") out from where they should have been and were too long. The bust dart was slightly too high.

What I think I have to modify to get it to fit (will make a new blouse):
  • The key thing is to do a bigger bust adjustment, I think. Unfortunately, the dart was already very big so I wonder if this means that an additional dart is required? Or am I better to change styles and go for Princess seams?
  • In addition, the dart placements and length need altered. I need to move in vertical waist darts and shorten by about 1.5cm (5/8"). I need to drop bust dart by about 1cm but don't know what I need to do about length as bust point is further over.
  • If the bust fullness is altered to be in the correct place, does this mean I will need less increase in bust fullness than it seems at the moment? There was distinct bagginess at the dart tips - I'm not sure how much this was due to faulty technique.
  • If the bust fullness is in the right place, then presumably the blouse would sit down better? Would this reduce the gapiness of the neckline or would it still need altered? The two alterations I'm thinking of are either putting in a gap dart and/or raising neckline slightly.
  • I don't think I should do a size smaller even though shoulder is marginally too wide. If I did, sleeve would also need lengthened. Open to advice.
  • The back is too tight - do I need to do a wide back adjustment?  If I did, which pieces would that affect - just collar?
  • Obviously, at the moment the bust is not sitting in the area created for it so that means the whole thing is rather tight and, I'm assuming, cannot sit down properly.
 Questions for you
  • I will alter the tissue pattern. Is this the best route to go or start with a completely new pattern? Say a Princess seamed top?
  • This size? Or size smaller?
  • Is there a best order to do the adjustments?
This time around, I will make a muslin/toile. There is no hurry. I'm just keen to get it right.

When I finally get around to making up again, I'm planning to use a slightly crisper shirting rather than this soft medium weight cotton
  • I'm determined that my inside finish will be lovely,  so I'm considering French seams or lapped seams - which of these would be better or is there a better technique I haven't considered?
I would very much welcome your opinion. Thank you.


  1. From what I see I would start by making lengthwise adjustments. It looks like the waistline of the shirt is way above her natural waist! This can also fix the dart placement and the length at the sides. It does not look too tight to me, it's just nipping in at the wrong height.

    1. I was so concerned with dart placement that I hadn't noticed that the waist narrowing was in the wrong place! I'll start with length adjustment. Thank you, Marianne

  2. Yes, the waist is too high - is she a tall lady? Lengthening at the waist would make the blouse a bit longer. I can't help with how to alter a pattern for a Full Bust - not having one myself. But I have made things for fullbusted girls, and a princess is always the most accomodating shape - princess lines are made for curves. You will still need to adjust for a full bust - I'm not sure how to tell you how to do this - I used to open my seam on the muslin, slash and split, pin fabric in, and redo the muslin according to my alterations. I was never a measure and flat paper person.

    We have a metric system here, but I still think imperial for sewing. I buy in metres, but then stay with imperial for all U.S. patterns. I use metric for those patterns published in countries that are using the metric system.

    1. As I said to Marianne, I was so concerned about the placement of the bust fullness that I hadn't even noticed that the waist placement was high! I'll sort that. This daughter is about 174cm (5' 9"), the smallest of the three. It would've been useful to have her as a live model or even to pin out on this occasion - but the next version will be better! I'm able to follow instructions in fitting books and my classes restart next week if I need help. I also need to see if I have a suitable princess seamed pattern and will consider that. Thank you, Sarah Liz

  3. I would start from scratch and try a princess seam blouse. They are forgiving and you don't have to worry about position darts.

    1. Thanks, Annie. I was at my sewing class today and this is what we concluded. My tutor L felt, looking at my altered paper pattern, that the side bust dart was already too large. She had noticed the gaping on the photo I showed her and she felt large busts will have gaping and suggested a remedy. However, when you look at my pattern, the princess seam is more or less already there and L advised that the seam should not lie on top of bust apex but slightly lateral; I might still need a small bust dart. The princess seam will be to armhole and might be higher rather than lower depending on fit. So that's my plan.


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