Friday, May 24, 2013

FBA for Butterick 5882, the Shelf Bust Pattern

All right, my pretties! Here it is, at long long last: a tutorial for doing a full bust adjustment for my pattern Butterick 5882, otherwise known as a shelf bust dress. This is going to be a long post, so hang in there.

As I wrote in this post, I think this style could work for a larger bust since the mid-bust seaming minimizes the overall appearance of the bust (as well as making things look perky!).

Here's my version, see how the shelf bust starts at mid-bust?

Okay, on to the tutorial! Let me start by saying that there is no "one size fits all" approach to this since this dress requires a very precise fit. I'll take you through the process of how I fit the muslin on a padded dress form (I would estimate her bra size at a D cup or a bit more).

Here's the size 14 muslin, pre-FBA, pre-padded dress form so you can see the fit.

Now here it is with the bust padded out.



 You can see a myriad of problems: the dress is not covering the bust, the side seams are pulled forward, and the back zipper won't close. 

First, I measured the distance needed at the bust. The back gap was my indicator here, though you could go by pattern measurements compared to your own. 


My mannequin needs two inches added. Obviously, we need to add this at the bust, not at the back or side seams. 

These next pictures are meant to give you a visual of the changes needed. I opened up the underbust seam and then ripped out the stitches in the front princess seams. 


The princess gaps are 1" each, which together adds up to the 2" we need to gain. 



Now the upper bust pieces need to be made bigger to match. To demo this, I cut into the pleated inset section and the bias band below it.


Besides the extra room at the princess seams, this FBA also requires extra length in the bust. See how the midbust seam is spreading open in the photo above? I decided to also add 1" of length (see changes below.)

Okay, let's translate this to the flat pattern. 

1. First, I added 1/2" to the center front bodice (which is one half of the princess seam). 


2. Next, I added that extra length to the top of the pattern piece, tapering down to the original center front. 


3. Repeat on the bodice side front. 


4. Now, get out the "stay" piece. Slash and down the center, leaving a hinge at the top. Spread the pieces apart 1".

Add 1/2" to the bottom of this piece for extra length in the bust.

I also moved the dart back to its original position.

5. Now for the most complicated piece, the "bra." It has a ton of pleats and looks scary, but it isn't too bad to adjust. Slash and spread as you did for the stay piece.

Always re-draw the grain line and smooth out and rough edges caused in the process.



Adding length is the tricky part. You need to fold and pin all those pleats as they'll be sewn, after taping the pattern piece to a larger clean sheet of paper.

Add 1/2" to the bottom of the piece, tapering up to nothing at the right side.

Cut out the pattern piece with the pleats still folded.

Unfold and your new cutting lines are magically revealed!

Note: if you have to add a lot of length to the bottom of the pleated piece, I would recommend adding another pleat on each side (by slashing and spreading) to continue the pleats down to the bottom of the piece.

6. The last piece to adjust is the strap, which is the bias inset below the pleats. It needs to gain 1" at each princess seam to fit the adjusted pattern pieces. Between center front and the pattern notches, slash and spread the pattern 1" on each side, adding new tissue paper behing the slash.

7. Now it's time to test in muslin. I sewed up the lower bodice and did a quick fitting. There was a lot of bagginess below the bust.

I pinned this excess into the princess seams, contouring the seams below the bust.

This resulted in a new seamline, shown in pink below.

The muslin fit much better with that adjustment.

8. Construct the shelf inset portion of the bust, as well as the bias strap. Assemble everything together, sewing it to the bodice back and basting in a long zipper for fitting. Add boning for the fitting (see my tips here!).


Well, the great news is that the bodice now fits overall, closing perfectly in the back. I did notice some excess bunching in the lower part of the pleated bra part, however. So I ripped that portion out, and scooted it slightly down into the bodice. Much better!

 There you have it, readers. I hope you've found this helpful!

54 comments:

  1. I love that your mannequin wears a bra.

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    1. Haha, that's where the padding came from! I have this massively padded bra (don't judge).

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    2. Mine has a bra, too, for the same reason!

      Gertie...this looks so confusing & difficult. I love to watch a master (mistress?) at work, but am not sure I'd ever have the guts to try it. I do love seeing how you do it, though!

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  2. Thanks for the step-by-step. Thorough as always. And a lovely result.

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  3. Lordy, that is complicated to read! But it all makes sense. I probably could have muddled my way through it but I'm glad I don't have to now! Thanks Gertie!!!

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  4. Looks very nice. Even I won't need this for me, it was absolutely interessting to read.

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    1. I thought the same thing. Enlarging bust area is not my problem..... :) I did find it very interesting.

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  5. My dress form wears a bra, too! I think the dress actually looks better on a FB model than the model on the pattern envelope. Thanks for the tutorial!

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  6. Thank you so much! I have the pattern and have been putting off attempting it for a while now as I was not looking forward to this part. I'm also happy to not have to muddle through!

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  7. Any tips on lowering the band to the underbust to make this a true shelf bust dress?

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    1. That is what I want to do as well. My boobs are way too big to be cut in half, I would look very strange with a seam directly over my nipple!Plus with good construction you can ditch the bra which is always nice and makes more design options possible.

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    2. Yes, please!

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    3. Sorry, I didn't mean to be anonymous!
      -Sandra

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    4. Well, that's practically a post in itself. I put the seam where it is for a specific reason (besides to make you all crazy!) which is that I explored the underbust seam and it makes everyone's bust look huge, no matter your cup size. So I would tread carefully if you have a large bust to start with.

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    5. I would love to see this tutorial as well. Personally I think when the seam runs through the middle of the bust, it just makes the garment look poorly fitted (IE, it makes it look like the dress/shirt is for someone with perkier/higher breasts). From the comments on this post, it seems quite a few others feel the same.

      I've never felt ashamed of my large bust size, or felt the need to downplay them, so, I wouldn't mind that the seam under the bust would accentuate my bust size. Since the shapely "pin-up" look is very "in" right now, I am sure that many others would appreciate a tutorial on how to move the seam below the breasts.

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    6. I agree with FlyingPurpleHippos. I have a disproportionately large bust (I wear a 30H bra), and I would never wear a dress that divided my bust in half horizontally. I agree that it would look ill-fitting, as if the bust seam were riding up. I would be much more interested in this dress (which looks lovely on you as is, by the way) if it were constructed with the seam below the bust.

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    7. If anyone wants to volunteer a guest post on the subject, I would be delighted to publish it. Sadly, I am only one person and these tutorials can take a long time to develop, photograph, sew, and write. I do hear your feedback, I can just get a little discouraged when I offer up a tutorial that so many requested, only to be met with requests for something else in its place! :)

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    8. I will see if I can put together a tutorial, I have been thinking of drafting a shelf bust for some time. I do appreciate all the work you out into your tutorials, they are very detailed and easy to understand. I think in this case it's most likely going to be split on where people like the band. Some will want the modern spin you put on it while other may want the boob boost of a true underbust. I'm always partial to patterns that emphasize my bust to waist ratio because it took years to get where it is today! Don't be discouraged, it's impossible to please everyone and trying to will only make you crazy.

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    9. Michelle, please do!! This tute was very thorough and informative and I learned a lot. I would want to make a true shelf though - or at least have the seam lower. Having the seam right across the midbustline just really bugs me, and I can't seem to get over it. But isn't that why we sew... to get the look we want for ourselves? Hope you can guest-post!

      Please don't be discouraged Gertie - we all out here in lurker-land don't always ask for what we want. When several posters say one thing, I know I sometimes feel in the minority and don't speak up. And I'm totally with you on the only-so-much-time-in-the-day thing. :)

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  8. Many thanks for this well illustrated tutorial--it answers all my FBA questions and now I can't wait to now start working on this dress!

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  9. Thank you! I will definitely be trying this pattern soon using the FBA!

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  10. What a great tutorial. So clear and straightforward. Thanks!

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  11. This is a great tutorial, I'd add cups too, anyone above a C would find the extra support helpful. As a full-busted gal, I would normally avoid this pattern as when I've tried bodices with a prominent seamline across the mid-bust, they've looked ill-fitting with so much bust curving below them. I blame my shape, I have a low bust point and a short waist, so I'm doomed for styles like this as I don't have enough torso length to balance out all the bust detailing.

    With this tutorial though, I can see how I could lower that bias inset further to run along the underside of the bust and increase the pleated section to make a deeper shelf. Now if only I could slash and spread my torso, my fitting issues would be solved!

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    1. I have the big boobs and short waist as well. One thing I found that helps for looks like this is to have the waistband dip a bit in the front. So the side seam is on your true waist but the center front is shaped down a little. It does not work magic, but it helps.

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  12. Hurrah! Worth waiting for. Thanks Gretchen!

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  13. That's really useful. Thanks for spending the time on this. I can get my head round FBAs on simple patterns (and there are loads of tutorials), but I'm not sure I'd have known where to start with this one! Especially on the bust panel.

    Meg.

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  14. This is great! I wanted this dress, but there was no way I could pull off a FBA by myself on such a unique pattern, so I didn't buy it. Now I have way more confidence, thanks!! (I have just spent 12 hours re-drafting the B5814 to get a proper fit, and made 4 muslins, but I think I did it, and learned A LOT. Not sure why it took me so long to do a FBA on it! Sewing the real thing tomorrow :) )

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  15. Thanks so much Gertie! I've been holding off on making this dress because I was waiting for your tutorial. I've done FBAs before, but never on something this complicated. Thanks for providing such a clear explanation.

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  16. I do not have big boobs or a short waist, but I love this post, and all of your other posts that make all of us feel like we are worth wearing terrific clothes. Many thanks to you.

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  17. Fab thank you, I just bought this pattern and have a big bust, and was thinking man this is going to take some thought! Thanks for doing it for me :o)

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  18. Yay, thank you! I have been waiting for this tutorial - it makes a lot of sense ... I think this needs to be on my summer to-sew list!

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  19. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I now have the courage to tackle my own dress and not just stare longingly at the pattern. Also learned some great LB tips which will come in handy overall

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  20. Glad this was helpful to so many of you! Please send pics of your dresses if you can--I can't wait to see some voluptuous ladies rocking this dress!

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  21. Thank you so much for posting this! I hope my next major sewing project will be a shelf-bust dress. I agree with those who don't like to wear a seam across the middle of their bust, as it doesn't work well for me either, but I think your tutorial helps my understanding of the construction enough so that there is a good hope of making the alteration. I think the key is knowing how to expand and fit the pleated portion. If it can be lengthened further and given more of a cup shape on its own, the fitting it into the bodice shouldn't be too tough. I hope I get to try it soon!

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  22. Thank you Gertie for a very enlightening post!

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  23. Thankyou Gertie! I am going to buy the pattern now I have this post to help me and my large boobage :)

    http://sewbambisew.blogspot.com.au

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  24. I've been reading your blog for years and love! But I hate that it looks like someone is selling dresses on Etsy using your pattern:

    http://www.etsy.com/listing/128226334/pinup-rockabilly-retro-summer-party?ref=v1_other_2

    What are your thoughts on this copyright infringement? Maybe a later post?

    Best,
    Melissa

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    1. Thank you so much for the heads up. Yes, this is a problem for me and for Butterick since this pattern is only authorized for personal use, not to make items for resale. She also used one of my personal photos of the dress as thought it were hers--jeez! Thanks again for letting me know, I really appreciate it.

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    2. Here's another one: https://www.etsy.com/listing/129004472/vintage-1950s-inspired-bombshell-black?ref=sr_gallery_19&ga_search_query=shelf+bust+dress&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_search_type=handmade&ga_facet=handmadeshelf+bust+dress
      I hate to see this happen to designers. =( Especially when there are so many talented seamstresses on Etsy drafting their own patterns.

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  25. I doubt I'll ever need to do a FBA on anything I'm sewing for myself, but this it's really interesting to see how I'd go about if I did. Thanks for such a detailed tutorial. :)

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  26. Thanks so much for helping us big busted ladies out!

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  27. I am thinking this might not be the best choice of pattern for those with anything over a D-cup; just as Gertie says: it already emphasizes the bust, so for those with busts that emphasize themselves...well, the look may well end up being waaaay "over the top" in more ways than one! Just my opinion...

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  28. Phew, there's no way I could have managed that on my own. Great job of explaining what is quite a complicated process, in simple terms. And the result looks much better than the flat chested Butterick model's version!

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  29. this is off topic, but I somehow ended up in your archives, (actually I ended up there by googling rose Marie Reid..I just lost an auction on the most GORGEOUS lace romper..sniped in the last 2 seconds) and I ended up reading the muslin debacle. does anyone just use their muslin for the lining of their garment? no one seemed to mention it, but it makes sense to me.. anyways, sorry to digress..:)

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  30. I fell in love with this pattern first time I saw it. I have a small bust and usually Need a small bust Alteration. Would you recommend this pattern for "small busted" women?

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  31. Thanks SO MUCH for this Gertie!! I have been crushing on this dress since it was released and its sitting in my stash waiting until I was time rich enough to give the FBA a go - now I can just follow this tute!
    yay!
    This dress won't suit everyone(particularly very large busted ladies), but you can't expect to please everyone all the time, and shouldn't try to - you're doing a great job with what you are doing so keep it up :)

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  32. Thank you for showing how to make these adjustments. This was a very thorough direction, which everyone can hopefully follow. Thank you for including the diagrams as well. This really is a process that needs to be taken step by step and slowly for novices who would like an FBA.

    My Webblog: http://online-phd-uk.co.uk/

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  33. This is the first time I actually understand an FBA tutorial. And on a more complex pattern too! You rock!!

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  34. I absolutely love this dress but I would prefer it with a pencil skirt. Can anyone recommend a tutorial on how to change the skirt? Any advice would be gratefully received.

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  35. Yaaay! You're so awesome, thank you! I've been dying to make this dress but I was waiting for the FBA tutorial. It looks so elegant!

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  36. I just picked up this pattern, and was thinking of emailing you asking about instructions for a FBA for this dress (32I here). Thank you so much for proactively producing a great tutorial. I'll send photos after I've finished making it (it'll be a while; I have many other items in the queue).

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  37. LOVE LOVE LOVE this pattern, just about to do a trial in muslin, anyone suggest the best type of boning to use? The pattern says 6mm covered, but struggling to find 6mm. Plastic, steel, polyester the choice is endless!!! Any advice or pointers of where to get in the UK would be much appreciated!

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  38. I want to make this for my daughter, who is 5'1" and a 38DD with a tiny waist. I'm thinking now it might be a disaster.What do you guys think?

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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