Sewaholic Renfrew Top: How I did my FBA

First of all, a BIG sorry.  I know I mentioned I’d sorted this out weeks ago and I had.  I then got scared as I’d never sewn anything in a knit fabric before.  So I hid for a week or two from actually making the pattern.  Then I got brave again last night!  So here is my first ever knit top and I made it all on my serger (well, apart from a bit of twin needle top stitching around the neck and at the shoulders – another first!)

A Full Bust Adjustment (FBA for short) is the one adjustment I know I’m always going to have to do if the pattern is in any way fitted below the neck.  They’re quite straight forward and well documented if you’re altering a pattern for a woven fabric.  You manipulate and/or create darts to add the extra length and width you need to go around and over the chest whilst still keeping the shape of the garment.

The Renfrew pattern is designed for knits.  Whilst it would be possible to do a standard FBA and add a dart to the pattern, it’s not something I want to do as the dart will add bulk, could affect the drape and well, I’ve never seen a dart in a t-shirt!

A lot of Google-ing didn’t reveal any process for adding the width and length needed so after a number of weeks scratching my head, and hacking mini bodices about I think I’ve finally got there.  The issue I had ensuring the front side seam matched the back side seam whilst being able to add the required length at the front of the garment.  Normally a dart would ensure the side seam didn’t grow as you use it to control the additional length created.  I also had to get the side seam back to where it started, or pretty close to where it started…

Now, if you’re like Lauren who blogs at Lladybird and you have the option of grading between sizes to accommodate your full bust which is what she does, this is a solution you will want to consider!

Lucky me (insert sarcasm here depending on your point of view…) has to deal with a G cup.  In plain old inches there’s a 5″ difference between my high bust and full bust measurements.  I also start at the top of the Sewaholic size chart so there’s no option of grading between sizes as my high bust is 41″.

So I need to do a FBA of 2.5″ or maybe 2″ if I don’t mind taking 1″ of ease out of the pattern…  Because it’s such a big adjustment I always trace my pattern and work with the tracing.  That means if I get anything wrong, the original is intact and I can start again.

These are the steps for my FBA on the Renfrew Top.  I’m using pattern piece A – the front bodice piece for the scoop or cowl neck versions.

Traced and Marked Bodice

The traced and cut out bodice is on top of another sheet of tissue paper so that I can stick it down once its slashed, spread and adjusted easily.  The green lines mark where I’ll slash the pattern.  The change in direction is about 1″ above my bust point as I know it will drop when I do the adjustment.  I leave a hinge point near the shoulder.

Spread Pattern Pieces

Here is the slashed and spread pattern.  There’s a gap of 2.5″ between the vertical slash on the left and the point of the slash lines on the right.  You can see how this has moved the angle in the line down, lowering the bust point.

2.5" spread between angle of cut line and vertical cut line (ignore the slash about 2/3 of the way down on the right - I took this photo further along the process)

I marked the point where the bottom of the pattern came to and then brought the slashed centre front down to meet it.

Lining up the bottom of the pattern piece

Now I need to get the side seam back to where it was, other wise the bottom of the top is going to be very flared and have no resemblance to the original design.  To do this I put another slash into the pattern, pivoting at the point where the arm scye and side seam meet.  There was no science to where I chose for this I’m afraid!

Rotating the side seam back in

I brought the side of the pattern in until the bottom corner was 2.5″ from the vertical slash line – the same amount of width we added at the top of the pattern.

2.5" from corner to centre slash line

The bottom of the pattern pieces do not in any way match up.  There’s about an inch difference in length and we need to true this up some how.

Trued bottom of pattern piece

I used a french curve to draw a smooth line between the bottom of the centre front of the pattern piece to the bottom point of the side seam.

I’ve now added the length and width I need to get around my chest.  The side seam length has been maintained so it will match the back bodice piece.  The extra curve to the hem is cancelled out as the fabric travels over my ermm, contours?!

Finally I measured the new length of the bottom of the bodice and compared this to the original pattern piece. The length had increased by just over 2.5″ (almost the exact amount added for the FBA) so I slashed and spread the waist band of the pattern to match between the ‘place on fold’ marking and the notch half way along.

Voila!  One FBA for a knit top, or more specifically the Renfrew!  Now, please let me introduce you to the Top of First Ever (serger constructed, twin needle top-stitched, knit item!)

One Wearable Muslin with a Successful FBA! Look, No strain lines, even when sticking my *ahem* chest out and flailing my arms about!

By the way, the cowl in the picture is smaller than Tasia’s design as I had an idiot moment when cutting it out and missed a chunk off one of the pieces.  I have no idea how I managed it, but hey it’s still wearable!

Please please chime in if you’ve got any advice, observations or refinements that may help me or anyone else doing this sort of adjustment in a knit!

Finished Star Light Jasmine

When I was organising these posts I wanted to have some sort of order to them, so decided that I really ought to post them in the order they were finished.  So here’s my Jasmine – the first item that I finished of the four I revealed yesterday…

I am wearing this top to death at the moment!  I love it so much.  It’s comfortable, it looks elegant but is quite effortless when getting dressed in the morning.  It has some personality but is still work appropriate.  Taking the time to sort the fit was so definitely worth it!

Another bonus is that the cotton shirting I made this from is becoming softer and softer with each laundering too – a quality I’d overlooked in the fabric having made my decision  primarily based on the fact it had stars on it and that the pattern placement was random so I didn’t have to do any pattern matching!

Oh, and it also has the Boy’s seal of approval as the first time I wore it he commented “Mummy pretty”!  Yup, I love it.

The construction was straight forward (another benefit of making a muslin!).  You really do need to grade the seams at the shoulders though as you end up with a lot of layers there so fabric choice is also important.  Cotton shirting is about the limit of what you can get away with in my opinion.  Another option would be to omit the facing and use bias binding instead as the top stitching securing it would be hidden by the collar and ties.  I may be a little odd though as I quite like facings on a garment…

I also used organza as an interfacing on the facings and cuffs – thank you Annabelle!  I have to admit that I don’t think I’ll be using a lot of fusible interfacing going forward now unless its in a bag!  I much prefer the the hand of a sew-in interfacing and fabric combination.  Plus you don’t get that weird ripply, bubbly effect that fusible interfacing can give after a few washes (my hand mades go in the machine unless the fabric says otherwise).

This pattern has so much potential.  I’ve got some vintage anchor print rayon cotton blend that I think will be turned into a Jasmine, possibly with the short ties though.  I would also love to do one with a white bodice, navy collar and ties with red flat piping around the collar edge and also between the cuffs and sleeve.

Adjustments Made:
My usual FBA
Broad back adjustment

Adjustments for Future Versions:
Shorten the sleeve length by about 1″.  The cuffs get scrunched up in the crook of my elbow when my arms are bent – for instance when I’m typing.

Make Again:  Yes!

Whilst I’m not taking part in one week one pattern hosted by Tilly, I may do my own week at a later date and this pattern would be a serious contender…

Final Finished Object of 2011

And it needs ironing!

I actually finished this yesterday and wore it to a house party last night and have been wearing it again today.  Hence it needs a good iron!  I also need to apologise for the photography – done in the bomb site that is the office using the photo booth programme on the MAC.  I apologise that it’s a bit of a poor effort on the photography front.  I feel a little as if a bus has hit me, but I really wanted to share this final item from 2011 and say Hi before the year came to an end!

This is my finished Sencha and I have to say I rather love it and love wearing it.  A definite win.

Front View

I love the wider neckline as I don’t feel constricted in it at all, although I may make it a little less broad next time around.

Back View

I also really like the back.  I used 10 domed shanked buttons and paired them all the way down the back.  I also sewed a couple of snaps beneath the waist as I noticed that other bloggers didn’t like the way it gaped open – it makes for a much neater ‘un-tucked’ wear!

Button Detail

Snaps to hold beneath the waist closed

I didn’t fold the sleeves as far back as the pattern suggested, which covers a little more of my upper arms.

The only change I think I’d make to this is to size it down a bit as it is a little baggy in places.  There’s about 3″ of ease at the waist and some excess fabric in the chest area where about 2″ of length could be taken out.

Tuck to take out length above chest

As you can see, with the length across the chest taken out, it does look a bit better!  But I’ve still got a very comfortable, and wearable top.  So a definite win and one that I’ll be making again.  I didn’t even mind the hand sewing aspects – I actually quite enjoyed it!  Does this mean that I’m becoming a proper sewist/seamstress/person who sews?!

Oh, and I’ve also cut my hair off!

Note to Self: Desk Light = Harsh Lighting!

What ever you’re up to tonight, I hope you have a wonderful last few hours of 2011, and here’s to 2012!

Sencha and Bust

I’m suffering from a lack of discipline in the sewing department at the moment.  I’m not starting a project and seeing it through before starting another one.  So as of this evening I have:

  • a mostly (apart from the hem, and a bit of stitching of the facing) finished Crescent skirt
  • a muslined but in need of some serious downsizing and flat pattern altering Beignet
  • and now a fully bust adjusted Sencha, in need of a muslin

See, can’t finish one project without starting another!

Well, casting a veil over my lack of focus, this evening my project was altering the flat pattern of the Sencha top by Colette patterns.  I’m probably looking in the wrong place but I couldn’t find very much in interweb land about doing a FBA on this pattern, but here’s the only one I found:

The Naked Seamstress’ post.

And what I did was different!  Because I’m like that.  And because I read the section in Fit for Real People about a billion times before doing this and trusted that their technique was the right thing to do!

Slashed, spread and pinned

So here’s my slashed, spread and pinned traced pattern piece (I get the heebie-jeebies just thinking about doing this to an original pattern!).  I traced a 16 going by my high bust measurement of 43″ (the 16 is for a 44″ bust).  My full bust measurement is 47.5″ so I need another 3.5″ of room in that department.

I followed the Y Full Bust Adjustment in Fit for Real People which is recommended where you need to add more than 1.5″ (I needed to add 1.75″).  I also followed the instructions for a dart less, cut on sleeve bodice:

First off was removing the sleeve.  There’s a tiny green mark where the bottom of the sleeve meets the bodice.  I also had to make a note which was the top of the sleeve, not in the instructions, but good to know later!

Slashed, spread and pinned - is this any clearer?

I also needed to work out where my apex was and draw a line from that to somewhere along the side seam.  I chose about an inch below where the sleeve joins the bodice – no particular reason, it just seemed right.  When I make the muslin I’ll find out whether that was the right thing to do (I may want a steeper angle to my dart, or need to move it so that it points to my apex properly).

Now that I had a dart line I could follow the instructions for the Y adjustment.

I drew and cut a line (1) from the hem up to the apex and then continued that line at an angle to the centre of the shoulder, stopping at the seam line. I spread this apart 7/8″ between the centre front and the apex and pinned it into place.

I drew and cut a second line from the apex to halfway(ish) down where the sleeve was (1a).  This was all the way to that edge but leaving a tiny bit of paper for a pivot point. I spread this apart 7/8″ from it’s starting point and then pinned so it couldn’t move either.  I’ve now got 1.75″ extra room at the bust.

I cut from the side seam almost to the apex along the dart line I drew earlier, again leaving a tiny bit of paper to pivot (2). I then moved the side that’s closest to the side seam so that each side of line (1) was parallel.  More pins.

I drew a final line parallel to the waist line, above the tuck marks, from centre to the gap created by (1).  I then moved this part down so that the cut edges remained parallel and the bottom hem was smooth.

Next I filled all the gaps in with paper, trued the lines and created the dart ‘wings’.

Altered Sencha pattern view 1

I also taped the sleeve back on, truing as necessary.  I hope the photo above shows you what has been added!  So I’ve got another 1.75″ each side at the bust (3.5″ total), plus another 3.5″ total at the waist.  This will fit, but with only 1″ ease at the waist, so I may add a little at the side seams, pivoting out from the armpit.  But I’ll muslin it first with generous side seams and go from there…

Apologies for the lighting - inside and at night does not make for bright photos!

The other thing to consider is the neck line.  A lot of people have commented that it’s very high and can feel choking.  I’ll leave it as is for the muslin and if I’m not a fan I can then mark out where I want it to be with tape and transfer that back to the pattern front and facings.

Assuming I don’t get distracted again?!  I really should make a list of projects and fabric and put it somewhere I’ll keep seeing it – my sewing room door maybe…

Lonsdale Sew Along Schedule is Here!

Another Beautiful Version by Tasia

This weekend I received an email from Tasia at Sewaholic to say that the Lonsdale pattern had been shipped (and the Crescent skirt I ordered at the same time)!  And today, she’s put up the time table for the sewalong and given us all a badge (can you see mine on the right hand side?!).  It all gets going whilst I’m away, but I’ll be able to follow along on the Blackberry and get cracking once I get home!

Here’s the link to the timetable for anyone else who’d like to join in…

In fact, my current sewing is all pretty much Sewaholic centric.  I’ve just finished grading the Pendrell blouse to my high bust measurement and hope to tissue fit it this evening – I know I’m going to need a FBA (Full Bust Adjustment) as there’s 4″ difference between my bust and high bust measurements.  The hips measurements are very roomy, although I think I’m going to have to add some to the waist but the FBA will add to that area, so I’ll see how we go…  I’ll use the Pendrell Sew Along post on the FBA and the Fit for Real People book to help me on this one!  Hopefully I’ll be able to make some real progress on this and ideally get it finished before we go away on the 22nd.  Wish me luck!