how not to do an fba

The post to follow is a grade A example of why not just anyone should be able to put content on the Internet. Seriously, you should just leave now — I won’t take it personally. Once you’ve seen something this heinous, you can’t unsee it. You’ve been warned.

Per request, I am going to show how I did my full bust adjustment (FBA) for the Grainline Studio Scout Woven Tee. For my alterations, I needed additional width from the bustline all the way down to the hem. This method, if you can call it that, ended up working great for me. Here we go.

First, I traced my starting size. I used an 18 for the fit in the shoulders, which turned out to be just right. Typically, the size corresponding to the 44″ bust fits me the best in the upper chest/neckline/shoulders. When that area is right, I find everything else simpler to alter. After tracing my starting size, I drew in the seamlines that would be affected by my adjustments — the armscye, side seam, and hemline. (Kindly ignore the fact that I drew in the shoulder seamline as well. Actually, just ignore this whole post. Thanks.)

seamlines traced

I started the same way I would with any FBA. First, I held the pattern piece up to me and marked my apex. I wasn’t worried about getting this precise because I wasn’t adding a dart. From that mark, I drew a line up to the armscye, about 1/3 up from the side seam. I chose this spot because that’s where I typically make my FBA — higher on the armscye, or from the shoulder point, gives me width in the upper chest that I don’t usually need.

Also from the apex point, I drew a line down to the hem, parallel to the center front fold. I drew a third line from the apex out to the side seam, about where a dart would be. Lastly, I drew a short line perpendicular to the center front, a few inches up from the hemline and between the two parallel verticals. In the below photo, you can see the lines… they’ve already been cut and spread just slightly to show up in the pic:

fairly innocuous so far

So far so good, nothing earth shattering. I cut along the lines, leaving “hinges” connected at the two points shown above: the seamline at the armscye, and the point of the horizontal dart-which-isn’t-a-dart.

Next, I drew two parallel lines on the piece of paper where my pattern would be mounted after the alteration. My lines are 2″ apart, because I wanted 4″ total to be added to the center front width. (This is really just the width that will be reflected at the hem, but more on that to come. It’s not too late to make your exit.) Then I carefully placed my connected-by-two-tiny-hinges pattern piece atop this paper, and spread the pattern accordingly. I taped everywhere and admired my well-executed FBA.

if I wanted a dart, I'd be home now

But now my story goes sideways. The issue I had at this stage was the side dart I didn’t want. Sure, I could have just added a dart to the pattern, but I was unable to reconcile that with the goal of having a woven tee pattern with no dart. I could have rotated the dart to the bottom, but then the top would have flared more than the style dictated.

So what did I do? I just drew a new seamline from the end of the armscye to the hemline, as shown in blue below.

you did what now?

I waited a beat or two, and when lightning didn’t strike me, I squared up the side seam at both ends (to the armscye and the hemline) and redrew the cutting lines. Lastly, I adjusted the back pattern piece so that the side seams matched, as I needed extra room at the hips on that piece as well.

I know. This added length to the sides that I didn’t theoretically need. It took out some of the room I had spread to add at the bust. I’m sure it did a plethora of other unseemly things, and I don’t recommend it to anyone! But somehow, I ended up with a great fitting top.

As I was writing this post, I ran across a great tutorial for an FBA for the Renfrew top, and it makes much more sense than what I did. It preserves the length and curve of the side seam, so I plan to try it for my next dartless FBA. Best of luck with your pattern alterations, which should in no way resemble the one I’ve outlined above.


Comments 5

  • I admire the courage you have to just go for it no matter how weird it looks on paper- definitely a new approach! And the top looks so great on you. Double win.

    Thanks, Tracie. I have often thought, “why not?” when doing pattern alterations and then proceeded to discover exactly why not. But occasionally it works. :-) ~Susan

  • I’m so glad that I read this at home instead of at work – I was laughing like a loon!
    Thanks so much for writing this up. Once I get back from vacation, I see a Scout (or two) in my future!

    I hope you love your Scouts birdmommy, regardless of how you make them fit you! :-) ~Susan

  • […] it is that I did the Full Bust Adjustment? I used the brilliant method that brilliant Susan posted on her blog moonthirty. Like Susan, I thought that having a woven tee that has no bust darts was very appealing, but now I […]

  • […] they didn’t need the FBA for a C/D cup. I also found this intriguing post from MoonThirty on how not to do an FBA on the Scout Tee that I am absolutely tempted to try […]

  • […] house! First, I am happy to report that my dartless FBA experiment (a la Moonthirty’s “how not to do an fba“) was a success. I will hang on to my darted version of the front bodice just in case it […]

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