23 March 2018

Bust Adjustments for the Joni Dress

Joni dress sewing pattern - Stretch! - Tilly and the Buttons

The Joni dress is one of our favourite patterns from Tilly's second book, Stretch! The striking twist-front bodice may look complicated, but it's surprisingly simple to make.

If you have a particularly large or small bust, you may be scratching your head wondering how to make a full or small bust adjustment to the front bodice. The first thing to bear in mind is that the inherent stretch in knit fabrics does a lot of the fitting work for you (yassss!). If you're used to making bust adjustments to woven garments, you may not need to bother when sewing with knits. Also remember that knit garments are designed to have a comfortable fit that moves with your body - as a result they are bound to wrinkle and fold in places depending on what position you're in. So you don't want to over-fit your knit clothes.

Having said all that, if you have a particularly large or small bust and know you want to add or subtract some space around the boobs, here's how to do it...

Joni dress sewing pattern - Stretch! - Tilly and the Buttons

To work out how much space you need to add or subtract to the bust area, measure your high bust (around your upper chest just under your armpits) and add 5cm (2in). Choose the pattern size with that measurement at the bust to do your bust adjustment on. Now measure your full bust (around the nipples) and compare it to the full bust measurement on the pattern size chosen in the previous step. If your bust is 5cm (2in) bigger, you’ll do a FBA and add 5cm (2in); if it’s 5cm (2in) smaller, you’ll do an SBA and subtract 5cm (2in), and so on.

Since the front bodice pattern piece represents one half of the top (as the fabric is cut on the fold) – or one boob – you’ll be adding or subtracting half of that difference - 2.5cm (1in) in this example - to the pattern piece.

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. Trace off a copy of your front bodice piece so you can keep the original one intact in case you need to go back to it, making sure to trace off the notches and ‘Lengthen or shorten here’ line.

Bust adjustments for the Joni dress - Tilly and the Buttons

Hold the front bodice piece up to your body so the shoulder line lies 15mm (5/8in) over your actual shoulder line. Make a marking where your nipple is (the bust apex if we’re being proper!). As a guide, the bust points are usually about 19 to 20cm (7.5 to 8in) apart from each other and about 27cm (10.5in) down from the shoulder/neck point – but of course this does vary from person to person!

Bust adjustments for the Joni dress - Tilly and the Buttons

To start we need to set up the lines we’ll use to open up the bodice. Draw one line parallel to the ‘Place on fold line’ from the bust point you marked on the previous step down to the waistline.

Bust adjustments for the Joni dress - Tilly and the Buttons

Draw a second line from the bust point to the notch on the armhole. Mark a point on this line 15mm (5/8in) away from the armhole.

Now add a horizontal line running through the bust point, from the ‘Place on fold line’ to the side seam.

Bust adjustments for the Joni dress - Tilly and the Buttons

Cut along the lines from the bottom up to the bust point and then to the point 15mm away from the armhole. Snip into the armhole in the opposite direction, stopping just before the 15mm point, so that the paper is also attached on a small hinge. This ensures that the armhole stitching line remains the same length.

Cut along the horizontal line from the side seam to the bust point, leaving it attached every so slightly on another little hinge.

Full Bust Adjustment:

Bust adjustments for the Joni dress - Tilly and the Buttons

If you’re doing a full bust adjustment, pivot the two side pieces away from the centre piece at the bust point by the amount that you worked out you need to add – remember you’re using half the difference between your high and full bust measurements as you’re working on half your pattern. In this example I've added 1.25cm (1/2in) to add 2.5cm (1in) total to the bust. Stick or tape the pieces down on a fresh piece of paper.

Bust adjustments for the Joni dress - Tilly and the Buttons

To keep the side seams the same length, we will transfer the extra space to the centre of the bodice. Cut along the horizontal line from the ‘Place on fold line’ to the bust point. Pivot the bottom right-hand side of the bodice until the dart in the side seam closes and is transferred to the ‘Place on fold line’. Tape or stick down.

Bust adjustments for the Joni dress - Tilly and the Buttons

Draw a straight line from one end of the ‘Place on fold’ line to the other. Cut away the excess to straighten it out. You might need to re-draw your neckline slightly so that it starts with a right angle.

Bust adjustments for the Joni dress - Tilly and the Buttons

Extend the waistline and centre front seam so that they re-join. The extra length created will accommodate the larger bust.

Bust adjustments for the Joni dress - Tilly and the Buttons

Measure how much the waistline seam has opened up by and remove this amount at the bottom of the side seam so that it measures the same length as the original. Redraw the side seam so that it joins the end of the waistline.

Small Bust Adjustment:

Bust adjustments for the Joni dress - Tilly and the Buttons

If you’re doing a small bust adjustment, pivot the two side pieces over the bust point by the amount that you worked out above - remember you’re using half the difference between your high and full bust measurements as you’re working on half your pattern. In this example I've subtracted 1.25cm (1/2in) to remove 2.5cm (1in) total from the bust. Stick or tape the pieces down.

 Bust adjustments for the Joni dress - Tilly and the Buttons

To remove some length for a smaller bust, while keeping the side seams the same length, cut along the horizontal line from the ‘Place on fold line’ to the bust point. Pivot the bottom right-hand side of the bodice until the cut edges from the side seam align again, and overlap at the centre.

 Bust adjustments for the Joni dress - Tilly and the Buttons

Stick or tape some pattern paper underneath the bodice. Draw a straight line from either end of the ‘Place on fold’ line. You might need to re-draw your neckline slightly so that it starts with a right angle.

 Bust adjustments for the Joni dress - Tilly and the Buttons

Cut away the excess from the lower right-hand side so that the waistline remains straight. A smaller bust needs less length on the bodice.

 Bust adjustments for the Joni dress - Tilly and the Buttons

Measure the width of the waistline on the original pattern piece, and then extend the waistline on the left-hand side from where it was cut so that it measures the same length. Redraw the centre front seam so that it joins the end of the waistline.

*****

And that's it! Now on to the fun part - cutting out and stitching together your lovely dress. I hope you enjoy making it. We'd love to see, so please share a pic of your finished Joni dress with us on Instagram @TillyButtons with the hashtags #StretchSewingBook and #SewingJoni so we can find it!

Fashion photos by Ellie Smith
Tutorial photos by Vanessa Allen
Stretch! is published by Quadrille (Hardie Grant)

6 comments:

  1. Thank you Tilly! I've bookmarked this tutorial for when my Stretch arrives - it's a unique way to do an FBA on a knit and I'll definitely be making use of it :) Did you include this tutorial in your book?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Kathleen! I hope you find it helpful. There wasn't space to include this in the book, which is why we've posted it here :)

      Delete
  2. Thank you so much. I have never really sewed stretch fabric but I fell in love with this dress. I knew I would need a full bust adjustment so thanks for the tutorial. Our state Librray has bought your book on my request and I am first in the queue!! Wish me luck!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Brilliant! Does this same principle apply to your other dress patterns too? I want to make your Megan dress too but am a bit nervous about adjusting the bust. But this method looks so simple!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Tilly, I've bought some gorgeous copper stretch jersey to make the joni dress. I'm wondering how to lower the twisted neckline a bit (ca. 5-10 cm) as I have a very long upper body and would prefer the nice twisted bit further down for an errr.. more plunging neckline. Should I add 5-10cm to the height of the bodice and move the armscye further up by equal amount? Greetings from Zurich!

    ReplyDelete

Feel free to chip in! Please don't comment anonymously though - you can leave your email if you don't have an OpenID. Comments on older posts are moderated for spam so won't show up immediately.