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FBA: Adding Darts to a Dartless Top

Most sewing patterns are typically designed to properly fit a B or C cup. For those that fall outside of that limited cup range, it may be difficult to find properly fitting patterns. The great news is that there is always a way to make almost any pattern work for you! Today we are showing you how to do a Full Bust Adjustment on the Named Clothing Inari Tee. Although this tutorial was designed specifically for the Inari, it would work perfectly for any dartless t-shirt, tank or dress bodice pattern. So let's get down to business!

Measure yourself at High Bust. (e.g. 33’’)
Measure at Full Bust. (e.g. 37’’)
Subtract High Bust from Full Bust measurement. (e.g. 4’’= Bust Difference)

Choose a starting size:

If your pattern has a high bust measurement listed, choose your size based on your high bust. If the pattern doesn’t have this listed, you can subtract 2’’ from the full bust measurement to approximate a high bust measurement. (The Inari Tee pattern only lists finished garment measurements, so go to the Named website to find the body measurements for this pattern).

For Inari, I chose size US 6, based on my high bust (33’’) and the size US 6 (full bust 34 1/2’’ - 2’’ = high bust 32 1/2’’)

Calculate your bust adjustment:

Find the pattern’s Bust Difference. For patterns with both a high and full bust measurement, subtract the high bust from the full bust. (e.g. 36”- 34” = 2”). If the high bust is not listed, use 2” for this number.

Subtract the above number from your Bust Difference (e.g. 4” - 2” = 2”) Now divide that in half, to find the amount you will add to each side of the pattern piece. (e.g. 2” ÷ 2 = 1”)

Alter the Front Bodice piece:

Trace your chosen size onto Swedish tracing paper. Using the pattern’s given seam allowance, draw in the seam line along the armhole.

Inari Tee Full Bust Adjustment

Hold the pattern piece up to your body, placing it where the garment will fit you. Find the apex (fullest point) of your bust and mark it on the pattern piece.

Dart-less T-shirt FBA

Starting at the apex, draw a line out to the side seam and perpendicular to the center front. Again from the apex, draw a 45° line up to the armhole. Draw a third line from the apex straight down from the apex to the hem. Lastly, draw a line from the center front over to the third line.

Full Bust Adjustment Tutorial

Cut your pattern piece apart along these four lines And mark them “A” - “D” from top to bottom.

Amber Corcoran's Full Bust Adjustment Tutorial

Pivot piece B at the seamline, moving the point down and away from piece A until your desired bust adjustment measurement from above (e.g. 1”) is the distance between them when you measure horizontally. Place piece C so the point meets with the point of piece B. Make sure the cut lines between A and C are running parallel and are the correct distance (e.g. 1”) apart. Tape these pieces down to your working surface to secure. Place piece D so that the center front is in line with center front A. Move it down so that the hemline of D and C make a smooth line when connected. Tape to secure.

Place a new piece of Swedish tracing paper over your pattern pieces. Trace the outer edges of your new pattern piece, smoothly connecting the gaps between all other pieces. Don’t worry too much about the side seam edge, we will tidy that up after making the dart. Transfer the apex placement from piece A to the new pattern piece Leave the tracing paper over the original pattern piece for reference as you make the dart.

Draft the Dart:

Measure 1’’ to 1 1/2” horizontally from the apex toward the side seam. Mark here for the point of your new dart. Draw a horizontal line from this dart point to the side seam. This is the top line of your dart.

Full Bust Adjustment

Measure along the side seam, the length of the opening between pieces B and C (length X).

Measure (length X) from the new top line of dart away from the armhole on the side seam, and mark placement for the end of bottom dart line. Draw a line from point of dart to end of bottom dart line.

Tidy the Side Seam:

Trim around your new pattern piece, but leave a good inch or so around the sides. Fold pattern piece at the dart, matching the top and bottom dart line and folding the flap down towards the hem. Draw a new side seam line. Use the original pattern piece as a guide for how wide to make the pattern piece at the hem, and the length and shape of the side seam. Make sure you draw the new side seam onto the folded dart as well, so that your dart fabric will meet the side seam when pressed down.

You may choose to add length to your top, or extra room in the hips depending on the fit you desire. If you alter the length or hips, make sure to adjust the Back Bodice as well.

Your Front Bodice pattern piece is now ready. It’s time to make your very own custom fit top! After cutting out your fabric, sew the darts and press them down toward hem before assembling your garment.

Comments on this post (3)

  • Sep 29, 2021

    simple easy to follow and the instructions work.
    Thank you.

    — Tania Griffiths

  • Jul 01, 2020

    Exactly what I need it. Many thans.

    — Zdenka Sykorova

  • Apr 16, 2020

    What an amazing set of instructions! Very clear and concise. Thank you for taking the time to publish them.

    — Heather Sedgmen

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