Another kind of Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) to add to the collection: one for a dartless bodice. This one is useful when you’re sewing the Onyx Shirt, but can be used on any sort of bodice without darts. I’ve drafted the images in Illustrator this time instead of making photo’s since I’m not completely satisfied with my photography setup at the moment. The drawings should be just as clear if not a little more abstract. I’ll show you the FBA on View A this time, you can find the tutorial for View B here. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments. Before you start, please read the introduction to this post to decide whether you need and FBA to begin with.

What you need

  • Onyx front pattern piece
  • straight ruler
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • extra pattern paper

Step 1: Prepare pattern piece

FBA on a no dart bodice
FBA on a no dart bodice

Start with drafting in the seam allowances on the armhole and side seam. They are 5/8″ (1.5 cm) for the side seam and 3/8″ (1 cm) for the armhole. Then hold the pattern piece to your body and determine your apex (that’s Latin for peak or top, so in this case a fancy word for nipple). Mark it on the pattern.

Step 2: Draft and shift

Draft lines
FBA on a no dart bodice
Cut & shift lines 1 and 2
FBA on a no dart bodice
Cut & shift line 3

Starting from the apex mark, draft a line towards the side seam (red line 1). Draft a second line from 1/3 of the armhole to the apex and then straight down to the hem (green line 2). Draft a third line (blue line 3) from the center front to the green line.

  • Cut the green line from the hem to the apex and up to the armhole stitching line (yellow dot).
  • Cut the armhole seam allowance to the yellow dot, but not completely through.
  • Cut the red line from the side seam to the apex, but not completely through.
  • Cut the blue line.

Anchor the main piece while you shift the side seam down and right. Keep the pattern flat. The amount you create between the green lines should be half the amount you need. Keep the green lines parallel to each other. When you have that piece in place, anchor it and shift the blue one down until it matches at the hem.

Step 3: Fill

When you have your pieces in the right position, fill the gaps with extra pattern paper and tape them down.

FBA on a no dart bodice

When you’d do an FBA on a bodice with a bust dart, you would now have a larger bust dart then before. In this case we have created a dart where there wasn’t any. You have two options: you can redraft the dart and sew it, or you can eliminate the dart altogether. If you have added a lot in this FBA it might be best to leave the dart. It will give you a shirt that curves with your body instead of creating a boxy shape. But it’s a matter of personal preference, eliminating the dart might be preferable if you don’t want to break up a pattern in your fabric for instance.

If you want to keep the dart continue to Step 4, if not then continue to Step 5.

Step 4: Redraft dart

FBA on a no dart bodice
FBA on a no dart bodice

If you want to keep the dart, you have to redraft it. Draft two lines from the apex towards the side seam. Now make this triangle smaller, so the point is between 1 and 2″ (2.5-5 cm) away from your apex. This is the dart that you’ll sew. The grey areas in the illustration show where you’ve added room by making this adjustment.

Step 5: Redraft and cut out dart

FBA on a no dart bodice
FBA on a no dart bodice

If you want to eliminate the bust dart, you also have to redraft it. Draft two lines from the apex towards the side seam (purple lines 4). Cut out the dart along these lines.

Step 6: Shift again

FBA on a no dart bodice

Cut along the green line 3 from the hem to the apex (yellow dot), but not through. Close the dart by pivoting at the apex. Tape in place.

Step 7: Redraft side seam

FBA on a no dart bodice

Since you now have an enormous waist dart, you have to redraft the side seam (pink line 5). It is easiest to take the original side seam to do this. Trace it on a piece of pattern paper and match the traced seam with the original. Stick a pin through the point where you closed the bust dart (yellow dot), and rotate the traced side seam clockwise. The amount you take off at the hem should be the same amount you added when you closed the bust dart. This is indicated by the arrows with the asterisk.

FBA on a no dart bodice
FBA on a no dart bodice

Fill up the little triangle at the armhole with pattern paper. Cut off the excess paper at the side seam. Trace the original hem line, redraft it and fill up the gap. You now again have a dartless bodice, but with more room at the bust as indicated by the grey areas in the last illustration. Before you cut your fabric, measure the front and back side seams and add length to the back if necessary. Also check the length of the armhole with the sleeve (at the stitching line, not the outer edge of the pattern!) and add some width to the sleeve if you need it.

It’s quite an alteration, but worth it if it gives you a great fitting shirt! If you have any questions, please leave a comment.

30 Comments

  1. Heidi Watts

    : Reply to Heidi

    Thank you so much for sharing this, have just bought a shirt pattern from Grainline that I know I will need an FBA on, but feel darts will be a welcome addition for my 32FF bust. :-)

    • Lisa Kievits

      :

      Glad to hear that – yes a dart will make in less boxy after the FBA.

  2. Nicola

    : Reply to Nicola

    Brilliant tutorial and very easy to understand, there are lots online for when you have darts but almost none for how to do an FBA when you don’t want darts (such as a basic knit t-shirt) Thank you

  3. Erin

    : Reply to Erin

    This may be a silly question, but do I need to alter the sleeve pattern at all, since with this method it adds about half an inch to the underarm? Or maybe I did something wrong?

    • Lisa Kievits

      :

      Not at all a silly question! Yes you could. Add the same amount to the front side of the sleeve cap. Move the point where sleeve cap and sleeve seam meet out.

    • Lisa Kievits

      :

      Hi Trish, what do you mean? The back piece? That stays the same, you just have to check that the side seams are still the same length.

  4. W

    : Reply to W

    Hello, I’ve only done one FBA and it was kind of successful. What I’m curious about is that adding the bust dart in this way seems to add width and length to the front of the garment. I have a small waist in comparison to my bust and therefore don’t want to add any width there. Is there a method for reducing the width and length back to what it was before adding the dart, please? Appreciate any advice, thanks.

    • Lisa Kievits

      :

      Hi W, it does add width and length: a bigger bust often needs that space because it pulls the fabric up and takes up more space width wise. I would be careful with removing this space. If you don’t want that at the side seam, you can redraw the side seam inward to the original width.

    • W

      :

      Hi again, thanks very much for your quick reply. Interesting about not removing the space – I hadn’t thought of it that way. I may have a go at doing the above then redrawing the side seam so that it goes back in at my waist on my next project.

    • Lisa Kievits

      :

      You can always take it in after you’ve tried it on. Good luck!

  5. Anita Haynes

    : Reply to Anita

    Thank you for many years I have tried to find this information . Now I can have a shirt/bodice dart or dartless. How kind to share your knowledge and you have a gift for clear instructions.

    • Anita Haines

      :

      I could not help but reply to you if only to tell you we share the same name apart from one letter!! Clearly we also share a common problem with patterns!

    • Lisa Kievits

      :

      Thank you so much, I’m glad to be of help!

  6. Dawn Ward

    : Reply to Dawn

    I just came across this site & I want to say thanks for the great information. I have a question. Once adjustments are made to the front, nothing needs to be done to the back piece, as far as hems & side seams to match the front?

    • Lisa Kievits

      :

      Hi Dawn, you should check the length of the side seam of the front with the back. lengthen the back if necessary. I’ve changed this in the tutorial, thanks!

  7. Pamela Golliet

    : Reply to Pamela

    How about for a knit dress with a gathered bodice? I’m making my granddaughter her prom dress and she choose on that has light gathering under the bust, but it is definitely based on a B cup. She is a D. Just add length?

    • Lisa Kievits

      :

      Hi Pamela, I’d do a real FBA. The gathering under the bust is the same as if there would be a dart, rotated from the side to the bottom.

  8. Meike

    : Reply to Meike

    Thanks for a very clear explanation.
    Does this adjustment also accommodate for protruding tummy/ pregnant belly? Do I need to lengthen the front and curve too to cover the belly? Thanks.

    • Lisa Kievits

      :

      Hi Meike, no it doesn’t, but you could skip step 7 where you redraft the side seam. That way you keep the extra room around the belly. And I would also lengthen the front, you can curve the front hem line down and keep the side seams the same length as the back, for instance.

  9. Cheralee Stover

    : Reply to Cheralee

    Hello! I am so happy to have found this! I have the Grainline Tamarack jacket pattern. I will definitely need to do an FBA, and I have held off making my muslin because I couldn’t figure out how to do it without ruining the lines of the jacket. I am so grateful for this, you have no idea.

    • Lisa Kievits

      :

      I’m glad to hear that! Have fun with the Tamarack!

  10. Kristen

    : Reply to Kristen

    I have a question about the dart that was added. If you don’t proceed through the steps to remove the dart, do you have to then sew the dart?
    Thanks!

    • Lisa Kievits

      :

      Hi Kristen, yes, in that case you’ll have to sew the dart.

  11. Donna Schmidt

    : Reply to Donna

    After cutting the green, red and blue lines how do I get the pattern to lay flat?

  12. Lisa Kievits

    : Reply to Lisa

    Hi Donna, you shift the pieces in a way that they will lie flat. If it does not, maybe you’ve missed a step? Remember to also cut into the seam allowance of the green line, so you can pivot at the sewing line and not at the armhole edge.

  13. Helleena Stallwood

    : Reply to Helleena

    Best instruction for FBA l have come across. If you want to put the dart for a less boxy look,do you still take the amount out off the side seam as with no dart instruction. Thank you.

    • Lisa Kievits

      :

      Thank you! And no, in that case you leave the side seam as is.

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