Sewing the Marigold jumpsuit? In the previous post we looked at some adjustments you can make to the trousers to get a bespoke fit. If you’re making the jumpsuit version, now we're going to shift our attention to the bodice.
Like with the trousers, don't be daunted by all these steps. You may not need to make any of these changes at all, or just one or two. It's a good idea to consider your first version a "wearable toile", in other words, understand that you might need to tweak the second one if you find any areas don't quite fit your body as you'd like.
In any case, this pattern shouldn't be over-fitted - don’t be tempted to make the bodice too tight. It’s designed to have a fairly loose, blousy style. Once the facing goes in it will feel snugger against your upper chest, and you'll need the extra length at the waist - particularly at the back - so you don't get a wedgie when you sit down in the jumpsuit!
We’re going to cover:
- Choosing your size
- Combining sizes
- Altering the length
- Bust adjustments
- Adjusting the dart position
- Adjusting neckline height or strap length
Choosing your size
Using a flexible tape measure, find the circumference of your bust at its fullest point, ie. around your nipples. It can help to turn to the side and look in a mirror to see where this is, and to check the tape is sitting level to the floor.
Circle your bust measurement on the ‘Body Measurements’ chart in the pattern instructions. If your measurement falls between sizes (for example, if your bust is 35in rather than 34in or 36in), it’s nearly always better to choose the larger size. It’s easier to take the bodice in if it’s too big than to let it out if it’s too small.
If your bust, waist and hip measurements fall into the same size, refer to the key on the pattern sheets that shows the solid or dashed line for your size – that’s the one to follow when you cut out your pattern.
If your waist and hip measurement are only one pattern size different (for example, if your waist is a size 4 and your hips are a size 5), go with your hip measurement - the elastic will cinch in the waistline to fit you.
If your waist and hip measurement are two or more sizes different, follow the steps in the previous post to combine sizes.
If your bust is a different pattern size to your waist size (or your hip size if that's the one you're cutting the pattern to), you'll need to combine sizes between your bust and waist.
It's best to do this after you've made other pattern alterations such as lengthening or shortening - so come back to this later if you plan to do that.
Draw a straight line at the side seam of the back bodice starting at your bust size at the neckline and finishing at your waist size at the waistline. The above photo shows a jumpsuit for a size 3 bust and a size 5 waist in green, then a size 6 bust and size 4 waist in red.
For the front bodice, we need to temporarily get rid of the bust dart so we can draw a straight line at the side seam. Fold the bottom dart leg up to the top and tape it down so that the side seam is a continuous line, and the dart is folded down towards the waist. Redraw the side seam so that the sizes are merged, like you did for the back bodice.
Before you unfold the front bodice, roll a tracing wheel over where the dart is folded at the side seam. This will mark out the sides of the new dart. Draw over the indentations in pen.
Place each neckline facing over its bodice neckline. Trace off the new side seam angle onto the facing side seam.
Altering the length
The Marigold pattern is drafted for a nape to waist measurement of 41cm (16in). If your torso is much longer or shorter than this, it would be a good idea to adjust the bodice length for your size. Bare in mind that the bodice has extra length built into it to create the blousy fit – this will come in handy when you sit down in your jumpsuit!
Shortening the bodice
Draw a parallel line above the "lengthen or shorten here" lines on the front and back bodice pieces. The distance between the two is how much you want to shorten them by.
Cut along one of the "lengthen or shorten here" lines and move the lower pattern piece straight up until it meets the line you drew in the previous step. Tape or stick it down. Re-draw the side seams into straight lines. Repeat for the other bodice piece.
Lengthening the bodice
First, draw two parallel lines on a scrap of paper, joined at one end by a vertical line - the distance between them should be the amount you want to lengthen the bodice by. Repeat this once more so you have a set of lines for front and back bodice pieces.
Cut along one of the "lengthen or shorten here" lines marked on the bodice pieces. Place a paper strip underneath the bodice pieces, aligning the cut edges with the parallel lines, and align the vertical line with the long straight edge. Stick them down with tape or a glue stick. Extend the side seam line so it joins up and cut away the excess paper. Repeat for the other bodice piece.
If your boobs are on the larger side, you may find that the pattern fits your bust but is baggy at the neckline. On the other hand, if your bust is on the smaller side, you may find that while the full bust fits you, the neckline is too tight. One way to resolve this is to choose a pattern size based on your "high bust", and then add or subtract room at the full bust. This is known as a full bust adjustment (FBA) or small bust adjustment (SBA).
Our sewing patterns include a 5cm (2in) difference between the full bust (measured around your nipples) and high bust measurement (measured around your upper chest just under your armpits). Measure your full bust and high bust and work out the difference between them. If the difference between them is significantly more than 5cm (2in), you may want to try making a bust adjustment to the pattern.
To work out how much you need to add or subtract to the bust area, add 5cm (2in) to your high bust measurement. Choose the pattern size with that measurement at the bust to do your adjustment on. Compare your full bust measurement to the bust size of that pattern size (or your high bust + 5cm/2in) - if your full bust is 2.5cm (1in) bigger, you’ll do an FBA and add 2.5cm (1in); if it’s 2.5cm (1in) smaller, you’ll do an SBA and subtract 2.5cm (1in), and so on. (But I probably wouldn't bother doing this adjustment if it's only 1in out, this is just an example.)
Since the piece is cut on the fold, the pattern represents one half of the change you need to make - so you'll be adding or subtracting half of the difference - 1.25cm (1/2in) in our example. Trace off a copy of the pattern pieces so you can keep the original intact. Make sure you trace off the notches and grainline arrow too.
Both full and small bust adjustments start off the same way by marking some cutting lines on your pattern, slashing them open, then either spreading them apart or overlapping them, to add or remove space at the bust.
To start we need to set up the lines we’ll use to cut up the bodice. The first is a line the runs from the centre of the dart at the side seam, through to 2.5cm (1in) beyond the dart tip. This is the bust point. The second line goes straight from the bust point down to the waist seam, parallel to the grain line.
The third line runs from the dart tip to the strap notch in your size that's closest to the side seam. Mark a point along this line that is 15mm away from the cutting line.
Cut from the waist seam up to the dart tip and then to the point 15mm away from the neckline. Snip in the other direction at the point, so the pieces remain attached by a small ‘hinge’ at the sewing line. What we've done here is ignore the seam allowance to ensure the neckline stitching line stays the same length. Finally, cut up the centre of the dart, again leaving it attached by a little hinge at the dart tip.
Full Bust Adjustment
If you’re doing a full bust adjustment you will now pivot the two left-hand pieces away from the right-hand piece so that they open up at the bust point by the amount that you worked out above - 1.25cm (1/2in) in our example. Stick or tape the pieces down on a new piece of paper.
Mark a point 2.5cm (1in) back (towards the side seams) from the bust point and re-draw the dart lines from here to their original starting points at the side seams. The dart tip is a bit back from the actual bust point so you don't get that pointy boob thing going on!
The side of the bodice will have moved down a bit to accommodate a larger bust, so we need to even out the waist seam. Add a strip of paper under the pieces on the left and cut them so they join up with the waist seam of the piece on the right.
Small Bust Adjustment
If you’re doing a small bust adjustment you will now overlap the two right-hand pieces over the left-hand piece at the bust point by the amount that you worked out above - 1.25cm (1/2in) in our example. Stick or tape them down.
One of your dart legs may be covered by the extra paper - in which case it helps to cut it away so you can see your new, smaller dart
The side pieces will now be shorter than the left piece as less fabric is needed to go over a smaller bust. Trim off the excess on the left piece so the waist seam is the same level. Trim off the same amount on the front bodice pattern piece too so they match up when sewn together.
Now is a good time to make up a toile of the bodice to get an idea of the overall fit and check that the darts and straps are sitting in the right place for you. Don’t be tempted to make the bodice too fitted! It should feel comfortable (and slightly loose) at the bust and finish longer than your natural waistline.
Adjusting the strap length
If the neckline is coming up too high or low on you, it can be adjusted by changing the strap length. You can do this at the sewing stage too, but you may prefer to make the adjustment to the pattern on your second version. This may move the dart tips away from the fullest part of your bust, in which case you’ll need to adjust them slightly too.
To raise the neckline
Draw two vertical lines along the long length of the strap. The distance between them is the amount you want to raise the neckline and darts by. Cut along one and move it along so it aligns with the other line you drew. Tape or stick down
To lower the neckline
On a scrap of paper draw two vertical lines, the distance between them is the amount you want to lower the neckline and darts by. Join the vertical lines to create a rectangle. Cut the strap in two along the shorter edge and insert the rectangle so the horizontal and vertical lines align. Tape or stick down.
Moving dart tips
The darts should end about 2.5cm (1in) from the fullest part of your bust so they don't end up too pointy. If the dart tips are coming up too high or low, they can easily be moved to the right point.
Mark on your toile or first version where your nipples are, then mark 2.5cm (1in) away towards the side seam. Make a note of how much they need to be moved - for example, 2cm away from centre and 1cm down.
On your pattern piece, draw a vertical and horizontal line through your size’s dart tip and mark where you want your new dart tip to sit, following your notes from the previous step. Redraw the dart legs to meet at this point.
That said, if you’re loving the fitting process and feel like geeking out - or want to make an adjustment we haven't had the space to cover here - we recommend checking out Fit for Real People by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto and The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting by Sarah Veblen. (These are affiliate links.)
In the next post, we'll get to the fun part - cutting fabric!