3 August 2015

Bust Adjustments for the Fifi Camisole

Fifi camisole sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Vanessa here – today we’re going to show you how to do a full bust adjustment (FBA) or small bust adjustment (SBA) for the Fifi camisole. These are adjustments that you may need to make to a sewing pattern if your boobs are particularly large or small.

We’re focusing on this adjustment because overall the Fifi sewing pattern is relatively straightforward to fit to your body shape but, if you do need to make any significant fitting changes before cutting your fabric, this is probably it. You can pin the camisole bodice pieces together, try them on and adjust both the side seams and the princess seams at the back (great for curvy or “sway” backs) to your preference, before sewing them together. You can also change the length of the straps – we’ve deliberately made them a little longer than you probably need and ordered the instructions to give you a chance to adjust them to your shoulders. The shorts have enough ease that it’s likely you won’t need to make any booty adjustments, and the set has been designed with comfort in mind – for lounging in the boudoir – so it shouldn’t be clinging to your body too much.

If you have a particularly large or small bra cup size though, then you may need to adjust the camisole cup pattern before cutting your fabric. Remember you still want a bit of extra space in there for sleeping in comfort though! To determine whether an FBA or SBA would be helpful for you, you’ll need to take a couple of measurements and do some simple calculations...

Bust Adjustment for the Fifi sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Measure your high bust (around your upper chest just under your armpits) and then measure your bust at its fullest point (around your nipples). Note down both these measurements, then work out the difference between them and note that down too. Our sewing patterns include a 5cm (2in) difference between the full bust and high bust measurement. If there is more than 7.5cm (3in) difference between your two measurements, you may need to do a full bust adjustment. On the other hand, if you have 2.5cm (1in) or less difference, then a small bust adjustment would be for you.

If you’re going to do a bust adjustment, choose your pattern size based on your high bust measurement plus 5cm (2in). Then work through the steps below to add or remove volume from the camisole cup in this size – the amount you’ll want to add or remove is the half of the difference between your high bust and full bust that you noted down earlier. Half because you’ll be changing the cup pattern which will be cut twice.

Bust Adjustment for the Fifi sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Trace off the camisole cup pattern piece in your size (don’t forget the markings) to keep the original pattern intact for the future. Mark a line 10mm (3/8in) from the neckline edge.

This pattern adjustment is all about adding in or taking away fullness exactly when it’s needed without jeopardizing any other measurements and shapes. So we need to draw in the lines where this will happen.

Bust Adjustment for the Fifi sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Locate the apex of the bust, which is the fullest point and for most people is their nipple. This is slightly different for everyone, so the best way to find it is to hold the pattern piece up to yourself in front of the mirror. Position it as if you were wearing the camisole, with the 10mm (3/8in) line you just drew crossing the centre of your chest at the bottom of the neckline, the side seam overlapping your side by 15mm (5/8in), and the top point where your straps will start. Using a pen, make a mark where your apex is. (As you can see, the piece I’m demonstrating on isn’t actually my size, it’s too big for me!)

Bust Adjustment for the Fifi sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Draw three lines from the apex to the bottom of the cup, each line falling between each of the three pairs of pleat lines (marked on the pattern).

Bust Adjustment for the Fifi sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Using a tape measure standing on its side, measure halfway along the curved armhole line. At the halfway point, draw a line back to the apex.

Bust Adjustment for the Fifi sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Finally, draw a line up to the to the top corner.

Full Bust Adjustment for the Fifi sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

With a fresh piece of paper and some tape at the ready, cut up each of the lines from the bottom, leaving the two points at the top intact by 1-2mm (1/16in) so that they’re just attached. Keep these little bits laid out on your paper in the order you cut them so they don’t get jumbled up! (You can number them if you like.) I recommend taping the large one down at the top of the armhole as it won’t be moving at this point.

Now, remember that measurement you made a note of earlier? Half of the difference between your high bust and full bust measurements – dig that out! That is the amount that you will now spread or overlap your pattern pieces by to complete your full or small bust adjustment.

FULL BUST ADJUSTMENT

Full Bust Adjustment for the Fifi sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Start by pivoting the two large pieces at the sides away from the apex, separating them by the amount you worked out above (I’m adding 2.5cm or 1in). Tape these pieces down.

Full Bust Adjustment for the Fifi sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Now space out the smaller triangular pieces at the bottom evenly in the opening, then tape them down.

Trace around the taped pieces to create your new pattern piece, remembering to trace the notch and pleat lines.

The pleats are now larger to create more fullness without changing the length of the seam line that attaches the cup to the front bodice.

SMALL BUST ADJUSTMENT

Small Bust Adjustment for the Fifi sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Mark two points either side of the apex, the distance between them being the measurement you want to remove from the piece (half the difference between your full bust and high bust).

Small Bust Adjustment for the Fifi sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Pivot the two large pieces at the sides (marked A and B) over the piece between them (C), until the two dots are overlapping (or as close as possible). Tape the pieces down.

Small Bust Adjustment for the Fifi sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Now overlap the three smaller triangular pieces at the bottom evenly in the space that’s left, matching the tips up with the dots. Tape them down.

The idea is that the pleats are now smaller to create less fullness without changing the length of the seam line that attaches the cup to the front bodice. Smooth out the curved line at the bottom – you’ll want to make any changes to this line outside of the pleats as subtle as possible so you don’t accidentally change the length of the seam line. You can double check by marking the stitching line 15mm (5/8in) inside the raw edge of the curved bottom line on both the original cup piece and your adjusted piece, measuring these lines excluding the areas inside the pairs of pleat lines, and adjusting the curve of the new piece so it’s the same length as the old piece.

Small Bust Adjustment for the Fifi sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

When you’re happy, trace around the taped pieces to create your new pattern piece, remembering to trace the notch and pleat lines.

And that’s it! I hope you found that helpful for creating a more bespoke fit to your Fifi camisole. Don’t forget to show us a picture of your finished Fifi set, we’d love to see it!

PS. If you're wondering where we got those fabulous pattern weights, here's how we made them!

PPS. You might also like Tilly's tips for tracing sewing patterns...

9 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this information. As a full busted gal no pattern fits out of the box.

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  2. Fab tutorial. I fall into 2 separate sizes, 4 on the bust and 3 for waist and hips, do I just blend the 2 sizes as normal or are the rules different for garments cut on the bias? X

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    1. You could blend them as normal, or you could just make a size 4 and pin the side seams and back princess seams in to your preference before sewing them :)

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  3. Hi Tilly, Fifi & Bettine just arrived today and I think I will start making the Bettine asap - very excited! Really helpful to know how to make an FBA for Fifi, too, as I usually struggle with the sizing on that bit and with a delicate camisole, it's particularly important.

    I was wondering if you'd consider designing a tutorial for making it with an internal 'shelf'? (Like a second layer of fabric with elastic at the bottom as bust support) The fabric I have bought is lovely but totally see through (whoops!) and for the fuller busted gal, it's nice to have something, ahem, holding you up. The internet has provided a few ideas of how to do this and I've been doodling some ideas (a single piece of fabric, with cup shapes from the pattern incorporated, which can then be long enough to be elasticated at the bottom, plus a matching piece for the back...) but it's all getting very complicated & I would hate to mess it up. I'd love to know if you had any ideas for how to get it perfect!

    Thanks for all the sewing help so far, can't wait to get started on these patterns.
    Emma x

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    1. Hi Emma, I'm not sure if a secret bra shelf thing would work with Fifi. It's a very delicate camisole, so adding an extra layer might look a bit messy, and the elastic would pull on the pleats and curved cup shaping. If you manage to do it though, do let me know - I'd be really interested to see how. Good luck!

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    2. Would you consider lining the cups in a very light weight jersey Emma? this wouldn't provide loads of support but maybe a little extra hold. I'm planning a nightie hack next - for my 3rd fifi!

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    3. Hi Sarah-

      Thanks for your reply! I actually did hack it- I made a shorter version of the top (in the same light weight cotton) and wrapped the bottom around some thick elastic so it sat under the bust. I made the straps quite a lot tighter so it, ahem, held me up. It's not perfect, but it's not bad for my first pattern hack! I think your idea of jersey fabric on the inside makes SO much more sense, but I've never sewn jersey before, so would love love to hear how it turns out. Please keep me posted because I'm definitely keen to make this again if you can crack this one!

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  4. I have made my Fifi, I have two problems with the cups
    1. I pressed the pleats towards the middle rather than the outside - I'm not sure how much difference it makes.
    2. The cups are too big, do you have any tips for adjusting the cups after its been made?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Charlie! Don't worry too much about the direction the pleats are folded, it shouldn't make too much of a difference. Taking in the cups once the binding has been sewn on is possible but would be a delicate operation! You could perhaps take a little out of the side seam, but you could possible turn the tucks into small darts, and remove some of the fullness over the bust that way.

      Hope this helps!

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