Hannah has an armhole dart, which is an unconventional dart placement that you might more often find in vintage clothing. I know you’re likely scratching your head about this one. Because of this placement, this bust adjustment tutorial may look a bit different to those you’ve seen before. These bust adjustments for the Hannah pattern will allow you to add or reduce fabric at the bust area, adjusting the dart size, all while maintaining the size of the waist and hips.

 

Heres what well cover in this tutorial:

  • Selecting your size
  • Determining your cup size
  • Determining the amount to adjust your pattern
  • Full bust adjustment tutorial
  • Small bust adjustment tutorial
  • Adjusting your apex
  • Truing your adjusted dart
     

Let’s get started!

 


 


 

Selecting your size

Hannah is made for a B-cup and has a wearing ease of 1 ¾”. To determine your bust size and cup size, you will need to take your high bust and full bust measurements.

After we take these two measurements, we will take note of the difference between them. This difference will determine our cup size and will tell us if we need to make a bust adjustment.
 

Take your measurements:

  • Wear a well fitting bra while taking your measurements.
     
  • Measure so that the tape is snug and make sure your fingers are not underneath the tape
     
  • Measure your high bust: around your body, just under your arms, around your chest and upper back



 

  • Measure your full bust: Around the fullest part of your bust with the tape parallel to the floor


 



Determine your cup size:

Calculate the difference between your high bust measurement and your full bust measurement.

  • 1” difference or less: This difference means that you are an A cup and will need to do a small bust adjustment. Select your bust size from the pattern’s size chart based on your high bust measurement. This will ensure that the garment fits properly in the neck and shoulders. Then you’ll make a SBA to reduce your cup size.
     
  • 2” difference: This difference means that you are a B cup. You won’t need to make a bust adjustment and you can select your bust size from the pattern’s size chart based on your full bust measurement.
     
  • 3” difference or greater: This difference means that you are a C cup or higher and you will need to make a full bust adjustment (FBA).  Select your bust size from the pattern’s size chart based on your high bust measurement. This will ensure that the garment fits properly in the neck and shoulders and the FBA will increase your cup size.

Determining the amount to adjust your pattern:


FBA

Example measurements:  High bust: 37”, Full bust: 40”

I’ve determined that I’m a 3” difference between my high bust and full bust. I’ve selected my bust size for my pattern based on my high bust measurement (size 8).

Now, take the difference between your high bust and full bust (3”) and divide in half (1.5”). We are dividing the measurement in half because we are working with half of the dress pattern.

When we make our adjustments, we’ll be spreading our piece out to build in 1.5” at the bust.

 

SBA

Example measurements: High bust: 34”, Full bust: 35”

I’ve determined that the difference between my high bust and full bust is 1”. So I’ve selected my a pattern size based on my high bust measurement (size 4).

Now, take the difference between your high bust and full bust (1”) and divide the amount by half (eg: 1/2”). We are dividing the measurement in half because we are working with half of the dress pattern.

When we make our adjustments, we’ll be shifting our pieces in by ½” at the bust.



Bust adjustment tutorial:

For this bust adjustment, whether you’re making a small or full adjustment, you will start out the same way. When we get to step 4 and we’re ready to increase or decrease the pattern, I’ll give one set of instructions for FBA and one for SBA.
 

Tools:

  • Clear drafting ruler
  • Paper scissors
  • Pen or pencil
  • Tape
  • Paper weights
  • Tracing paper. We’ll be making some hefty adjustments, so get something durable. Tracing the pattern. Swedish tracing a paper is a treat to work with as you can also sew it up to check your fit.
  • Make sure to trace all pattern markings to your traced Dress Front pattern piece.
  • Tracing wheel for truing your dart


     

    Step 1: Mark your pattern

  1. With a clear drafting ruler, trace the stitch line along the side edge, beginning at the match point near the pocket corner and drawing to the match point near the armhole. The seam allowance here is 5/8”.



     
  2. Trace the stitch line along the armhole. The seam allowance along this edge is 3/8”.  Continue drawing the stitch line along the armhole up until 1” above the dart.



     
  3. Draw a line through the middle of the dart, extending it ½” beyond the tip of the dart. Mark a point here. This is the Apex.


     
  1. Mark the bustline. Place your ruler along the apex and square off at the center front. Mark along this line, through the apex.


Step 3: Cut your pattern

  1. Clip hinges into the seam allowance at the following locations (I’ve marked the hinge placements with green dots).
  • At the 1” seam line mark above dart
  • At both dart leg
  • Towards match point at pocket corner.




 

  1. The location to cut is indicated by the red lines.

  • Cut along the 5/8” stitch lines along the side edge. End this cut at the pocket match point and the underarm match point.
     
  • Cut along the 3/8” armhole stitch line, up until the first dart leg nearest the armhole/side edge.
  • Cut along the dart legs at either side of the dart, towards the dart point, maintaining the hinge. The dart excess should be attached to the seam allowance at either side.
     
  • Cut through the center of the dart.
     
  • Continue cutting along the armhole stitch line up until the 1” mark above the dart.


 

  1. Tape the main body of the pattern in place, leaving the cut portions aside for adjusting.

 

Step 4: Adjust the pattern
 

Full Bust Adjustment

  1. Extend the bust line out from the side edge of the pattern. Measure out from the cut side edge by the amount to adjust (eg: 1 ½”). Mark the point.



     
  2. At the hinge found at the pocket corner, pivot the side edge seam allowance outwards, away from the piece. Align the inner edge of the cut seam allowance to the 1 ½” mark along the bust line. Tape the seam allowance in place along the side edge and armhole, up to the first dart leg.

 

  1. You will need to find the position for the dart. To do so, match either side of the dart together at the tip of the dart, allowing the seam allowance to rotate at the hinges. With the points together, and the dart excess laying flat on either side, mark the apex of the dart.

 

  1. Secure the first side of the dart in place, matching the tip to the new apex.


 

  1. Secure the remaining portion of the dart in place, matching the tip to the apex.



 

  1. Re-trace the pattern piece making sure to transfer all pattern markings and annotations from the original pattern. You will need to true your dart excess and perhaps adjust your apex location. I’ll show you how to do that after the SBA tutorial.


Small bust adjustment

  1. Along the bust line, mark your adjustment measurement (eg: ½”).
     


 

  1. Pivoting at the pocket corner hinge, shift the side edge seam allowance inwards towards the piece. Align the inner edge of the seam allowance to the ½” mark along the bust line. Tape the seam allowance in place along the side edge and armhole, up to the first dart leg.


 

  1. You will need to find the position for the dart. To do so, match either side of the dart together at the tip of the dart, allowing the seam allowance to rotate at the hinges. With the points together, and the dart excess laying flat on either side, mark the apex of the dart.


 

  1. Secure the first side of the dart in place, matching the tip to the new apex.


 

  1. Secure the remaining portion of the dart in place, matching the tip to the apex.


 

  1. Re-trace the pattern piece making sure to transfer all pattern markings and annotations from the original pattern. You will need to true your dart excess and perhaps change your apex location.

Apex:

Apex is the highest point of the bust which the bust are directed towards. The tip of the dart should end about ½” to 2” away from the apex, depending on your cup size. This distance is something you may want to play around with when fitting your muslin.

After making the bust adjustment to your pattern you will want to determine if your personal apex position needs adjusting.

 

Locate your own apex:

Method 1:

  • Place the adjusted Dress Front pattern piece onto your chest. Align the center front, neckline and shoulder edge to your body.
  • Keep in mind, that the neckline has 3/8” seam allowance and the shoulder has 5/8” seam allowance.
  • Mark a point at the highest point of your bust. This will be your apex.

Method 2:

  • Find your neck to bust measurement: measure from the base of your front neck (collarbone edge) down to your bust line (line parallel with your bust point).
  • Find your bust point distance measurement: At your bust line, measure across from bust point to bust point to determine the distance between the two points. Divide this measurement by half.
  • On your pattern, mark your apex by measuring down from the neckline (adding 3/8” for seam allowance), and in along your bust line by your halved bust distance measurement.



Truing the dart

Once your new pattern piece is traced out and all markings and annotations transferred from the original pattern,  you will need to determine the new dart excess. If you have adjusted your apex location, draw your dart legs to point towards the apex, by at least 1/2” away from that point. You can adjust the distance from the apex when you make your muslin.

This example is shown with the FBA pattern piece, but the method applies to SBA pieces.
 

  1. Trace out the piece without any dart excess.


 

  1. Crease the paper along the dart leg closest to the side edge.


 

  1. Bring the creased dart leg over towards the remaining dart leg, turning the excess towards the side of the garment. Pin through the layers of paper to hold the dart in place.


 

  1. You will likely notice that the edges along the armhole no longer align. Adjust this by blending a smooth line to form a smooth, continues edge. With a tracing wheel, trace along the newly drawn line.


 

  1. Unfold the piece. The perforated marks from the tracing wheel will indicate to you the new dart excess.


 

  1. Trace along the perforated line and cut out your new piece.

 

 

Comments (11)

  1. Johanna:
    Apr 25, 2016 at 06:57 PM

    Thanks for this! I'm excited to try the pattern, but still not that comfy doing bust adjustments, especially with different darts. Any advise on how to do a SBA when I'm well below the pattern chart so can't pick a size based on that? I'm a size 4 in my other measurements but have a full bust of about 31.5 and a high bust of about 31. I was thinking I'd use the 2, maybe adjust up to a 4 for the waist hips, and remove 1 inch from the bust dart following the instructions above?

    Reply

    1. Kristiann Boos:
      Apr 27, 2016 at 11:57 PM

      Hi Johanna,
      I’m tempted to suggest that you make a size 2 throughout the whole body, as there is a considerable amount of wearing ease at the waist and hips, and the difference between 2 and 4 at these points is minimal. I’m suggesting this because grading between the sizes on this pattern is more tricky than you might think, due to the various angles on this style. I’ll working on a tutorial for that, but given your bust size, I’d suggest making 2 throughout and doing an SBA to reduce it. Beyond that, I’d suggest doing a fitting before you sew in the armhole facing and neck binding in order to determine if you need to take in a small amount at the side seam and/or shoulder. I apologize for not accommodating your size. I grade starting from size 8 and there is a limitation to how far I can push my size grades in either direction of that size. Let me know how it goes!

      Reply

      1. Johanna Persohn:
        Apr 28, 2016 at 09:12 PM

        Thanks! That helps, and I'm somewhat used to not seeing my bust size in patterns, and usually just take in side seams or stick with designs that don't need the adjusting, but this one scared me a bit to not adjust and it with the different design!. I've done SBA's on your other patterns with success though! So I think I'll do a 2 for sure and SBA out an inch and fit as I go! Thank you! I'm excited to make a pattern with almost my name ;)

        Reply

  2. Teri:
    Apr 26, 2016 at 10:19 PM

    I'll have to admit that I'm confused by your measurements for a FBA. If the pattern is drafted for a b cup which is a 2" difference between high bust and full bust, shouldn't the FBA for a person with a 3" difference between high bust and full bust only be 1/2" per side i.e. the 3" difference minus the 2" already drafted into the pattern divided by two which is 1/2"? Or are you suggesting that I should use my high bust measurement in place of the full bust measurement on the size chart when choosing a size? Because I would think that would result in the shoulders and upper back being too tight. I just want to make sure I start with the correct size.

    Reply

    1. Kristiann Boos:
      Apr 27, 2016 at 11:58 PM

      Hi Teri,
      I understand where your confusion is coming from. One of the problems found when making a B cup pattern when you have a larger cup size is upon selecting your bust size based on your full bust measurement, the shoulders and back of the pattern is then larger that you need it to ne. Selecting your size based on your high bust measurement gives a better fit in the neck, back and arm area. The bust adjustment then allows you to create the shaping for your cup size, which will end up equaling the circumference of your full bust measurement after the FBA adjustment. So in short, yes, you should select your size based on your high bust measurement and make the bust adjustment using the difference in measurement between your high and full bust. Let me know if you have any other questions about it, I’m happy to help!

      Reply

  3. Melissa Watson:
    Jun 15, 2016 at 07:18 AM

    Good stuff Kris, quite the process! Love the calculator tricks ;)

    Reply

  4. Jules:
    Jun 21, 2016 at 02:27 PM

    Hi there - this is a really interesting method, the only time I've seen it done this way after a lot of researching FBAs! I was wondering whether this method could be used where the dart is in centre front of the pattern? Or if that would be a case of rotating to 'standard' dart placements, doing the fba and then rotating back? Sorry to ask if it's not necessarily relevant to the pattern but I'm really interested in this method! Thanks, Julie

    Reply

  5. Rachel Herrington:
    Nov 26, 2016 at 12:41 PM

    Hello, I just finished assembling the dress. I tried it on to see how the fit was and it's pretty perfect except for the bust is a little tight. I cut the size i needed by the finished measurements and the bust is still a little tight. My bust is 40" and i cut a size 12 for a finished bust of 421/4.

    Now that it's assembled should I the bust darts out and repin-sew for more room? or will that mess it up?
    I thought about taking out the back darts also

    Any assistance will be greatly appreciated

    I love this dress and can't wait to wear it.

    Reply

    1. Kristiann Boos:
      Dec 05, 2016 at 09:28 PM

      Hi Rachel,
      I’m really glad to hear that you love the dress, but I’m sorry to hear that the fit isn’t right for you. The best advice I can give you at this point in the project is to let out the side seam allowances along from underarm. I would reduce it to 1/4 or 3/8, whichever you feel comfortable with. This will give you some additional room around your bust. When you let out the side seams, blend back to the original seam allowance as you sew towards the waist.

      The back dart will not affect the amount of fabric at the bust, as the width of that dart is not in line with the bust. Letting out the bust dart will not create more circumference, it will only serve to flatten the bust area.

      Let me know if you have any other questions, I’m happy to help!

      Reply

      1. Rachel:
        Dec 05, 2016 at 09:47 PM

        Hi Kristiann
        Letting out the darts in the back gave me more room.

        Thanks for your help the dress was a hit!

        Reply

        1. Kristiann Boos:
          Dec 05, 2016 at 10:48 PM

          Oh awesome Rachel, that's great to hear! I'm glad to know about that option as a solution and I'm thrilled that it worked out :)

          Reply


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