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An FBA in process

2012 January 11
by elizabeth_admin

Last night was a bust for sewing as Jack and I got home late from a friend’s house for dinner (and, truth be told, I had two glasses of wine…).  But the previous night I was able to work on my FBA and here’s the rundown.  Using Steph’s FBA tutorial, I slashed and spread my dartless empire bodice of B5523.  My aim here is for a lot of shaping as I don’t want a muu muu dress in the end.  I want to create room for the bust, but keep the dress close-fitting in all other areas (except the skirt of course), specifically the upper bodice/shoulders and empire waist. 

If you will recall I cut a sz 14 initially which ended up still too small in the bust, but huge everywhere else.  This time I cut a sz 12 and added a 3 inch FBA (1.5 inches for each side), changing the pattern from a B cup to a D cup.  I added darts where there were none so I could retain the close fit after the FBA.  An FBA adds some length (from top to bottom) to the pattern, but after basting the bodice together, I think need at least 1/2 an inch more in length to really get the fit I want.  If I make this again, I will add that in the next iteration. 

Here’s the cut up version of the pattern piece:


And here’s the retraced pattern piece.  I wanted to trace it again to get a clean copy.


Since the original pattern piece is dartless, I guesstimated the dart placement.  I think I might adjust their placement tonight by putting the waist dart directly under the bust point and moving the side dart 1/2 inch more away from the bust point.  I think the dart ends are to0 close to the bust point and therefore really noticeable, especially in a solid color and in a doubleknit fabric. 

Luckily, I just basted my darts on this second make of B5523, so it will be quick work to adjust those before constructing the rest of the dress.  I hope to finish most of it tonight.  Boy, do I wish I had a coverstitch machine already so I could use it on the hems.  *sigh*

I should note here that one thing I didn’t realize is that there is no need to true up the side seam or the armhole.  For the side seam, once you sew up the dart, the side should revert to its original shape.  My friend Claudine said that the resulting distortion of the armhole is needed for the pattern to work when sewn up.  And sure enough both happened.  I sure do wish sometimes that I had a mind capable of thinking in 3D.  Oh well… 

One more note, most tutorials don’t have you put in a waist dart if one was not there to begin with, which ends up increasing the width of the pattern thereby requiring you to increase the width of the skirt of the dress.  I really didn’t want to increase the width at all because I wanted as close a fitting dress as I could manage.  So that’s why I added in the waist dart.

Overall, I am super pleased with how my first real FBA turned out.  I think the fit it is spot on.  All I really need to do is fine tune the dart placements.  What do you think?


Incidentally, since I’ve worn my NL6067 several times now, I have determined that the upper bodice is a little to0 blousy or loose.  I probably could have gone down a size in the dress pattern and made an FBA in the bodice and the fit would have been better.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love the dress and will still wear it (and proudly).  But I am constantly learning so I will always have realizations (epiphanies, if you will) after the fact.  Hopefully I will learn from them and do better next time.

In other sewing news, I found out that my friend tried on the first version I made of this dress and not only did it fit her perfectly, but she loved it!  A win-win situation.  All I have to do is hem it for her and we both get new dresses.  

Happy sewing everyone!

15 Responses leave one →
  1. January 11, 2012

    Aren’t FBAs great?! Bit of a faff in the short term but SO worth it in the long term. I’d say your assesment is spot on – great fit, just need to move the darts a bit.

    For future reference, Debbie Cook’s done a great series of tutorials for FBAs on different types of bodices. She’s always my go-to.

  2. January 11, 2012

    Wow – the fit looks almost perfect! I totally agree about moving the darts over slightly though – I think it will make the fit even better. Also, in my experience having the darts or seams closer to the center (as opposed to closer to the sides) has a sliming effect because it makes the middle of your torso look smaller. Learned that the hard way last year when I made a princess seam dress that had a really wide center piece – I never wore it as it made me look huge! But a different princess seam dress with a narrower center panel was super flattering. Obviously, you don’t want the darts too close to center as it will look funny, but moving them in a bit will probably result in a better fit for your dress.

    Also – I totally know what you mean about realizing how you should have done things differently after you wear something. Happens to me a lot. Doesn’t mean I don’t wear what I made and love, it just means I get a little obsessive about making another one and doing it better.

    In any case, good luck with the pattern alterations – can’t wait to see the finished dress!

  3. January 11, 2012

    Lucy totally took the words out of my mouth. Debbie’s tutorials are awesome – They are how I learned to FBA. I agree with you about the dart placement, but the fit is great. I also always add an extra waist dart (or widen the existing dart) when I do an FBA, since all I need is the bust room. You could also sew the waist seam at 1/4 inch seam allowance to give you the extra length you want.

  4. January 11, 2012

    OK, FBA is next on my to-learn list. Maybe I’ll like making garments if I master that. Because then they might, you know, fit.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. January 11, 2012

    Elizabeth your FBA looks great – really nice fit. Agree with your thoughts to shorten the dart-legs on the S/S dart tor get the dart paex that 1/2″ further away from your BP, and as said above moving the waist darts in towards the CF a wee bit will bring this spot on 🙂 Nice work hun!

  6. January 11, 2012

    Looks great! You may be able to press out that pucker at the dart points. Good job.

  7. January 11, 2012

    I’m also on the “move the underbust darts over” bandwagon.
    Great job!

  8. Lindanan permalink
    January 11, 2012

    Definitely move the waist dart. It needs to point to the bust point. You may also want to move the side dart so it slants upward toward the bust point. I’m still seeing a little pulling. You may want to make the fba a little larger. You can always decrease it.

  9. January 12, 2012

    It’s looking good. You’re inspiring me to move this pattern up o n my list this year.

  10. January 12, 2012

    It’s looking good! I remember the first time I successfully did an FBA. I was ecstatic. It put the mojo back into my sewing mood because now I could sew clothes that fit properly. I think you could add a little more width to get the *perfect* fit, as there are pull lines across the front – for the next one, of course! As for the darts, have you thought about making two smaller ones instead of one deep dart? I’ve noticed that Sandra Betzina’s patterns get a lot of extra shaping and smooth fit simply by dividing up the ease into smaller darts. I’ve started to make this a habit if my darts are taking in more than 1″ of fabric. The results are more subtle and satisfactory.

  11. Lene H permalink
    January 12, 2012

    What a smashing success! The fit is almost spot-on with your first FBA. I too would at just a smidge more FBA, something like 1-2/8 of an inch on each side.
    I also see a bit of pulling from your underarm to the shoulder. Perhaps you have strong shoulders and could loosen the shoulderseam by decreasing the seamalowance on the bit where shoulderpads would go (don’t know the english term for it) Just 1-2/8 of an ich would probably make quite a difference there as well 🙂

    But that is truly nitpicking and I AM a member of Overfitters Anonymous 🙂

  12. mrs mole permalink
    January 12, 2012

    Darts should end 1.5 inches from the bust point. Find a plastic lid and cut a circle 3 inches across and punch a hole in the middle for a template. This can be placed over the bust point on the paper pattern and traced to keep those darts out of what I call the “no fly zone”. My blog has photos this week of alterations like this:

  13. January 12, 2012

    Looks spot on!

    The only thing I’d say is maybe move the bottom dart about one inch nearer to CF and check if it lines up with the skirt bottom waist dart (if any?)

  14. charlene moultrie permalink
    September 20, 2014

    Hi, I just your found your blog. Thank you for this post. I am new to sewing and the fba. I would like to master the fitted bodice dress. I like the way yours fit and we have a similar body shape up top. Can you offer any advice regarding the amount of ease you have in your adjusted bodice. For example how much ease to you usually have in the upper bust then how much ease do you allow for during the fba. Thanks so much!!! Charlene

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