31 May 2023

How to Do Bust Adjustments for a Bust Darted Bodice

Bust adjustments bust darted bodice bodice pattern fitting - Tilly and the Buttons

Do you ever wish your me-mades fit better across the bust? Do you find that excess fabric seems to pool around your bust, or that it's too tight? Ever think that the bust darts point in the wrong place on your garments? If you're finding yourself nodding enthusiastically in agreement to any of these statements, then you probably need to do a bust adjustment to your bodice pattern pieces.

It's Nikki here, Product Manager and fitting geek at Tilly and the Buttons, and I'm going to to talk you through how to do a full bust adjustment, a small bust adjustment and how to move the dart on a bust darted bodice.

Now, before we go any further I'd like to give you a little positive pattern pep talk. There are a few diagrams in this post, but whilst they might look quite daunting, they are relatively simple if you follow them step by step :)

How do I know if I need a bust adjustment?

There's a technical and a not-so-technical answer here! The answer depends on your own unique shape and the fit of the garment - you may not need to do a bust adjustment to a loose top or dress, but might have to do one on something more fitted. If you find that things are generally either too tight or too loose in the bust area, then I'd recommend making a quick toile of the bodice, or wearable toile of the whole garment to test the fit around the bust and take it from there. I'm going to briefly cover how you would work out how much to add or subtract from your bust in the adjustment, but do remember this is just a rough framework, and you might not need to do it at all.

Measure your high bust (your upper chest, just under your armpits). If you're making one of our patterns that comes in sizes UK 6-24, or which comes in sizes UK 6-34 and you're making size 6-16, add 5cm (2in). If you're making one of our patterns that is in sizes 16-34, or which comes in sizes 6-34 and you're making size 18-34, add 10cm (4in). Choose the pattern size with that bust measurement – this is the size you’ll do your bust adjustment on.

Now measure your full bust (fullest part, around the nipples) and compare it to the bust measurement on the pattern size you just selected.

If your full bust is 5cm (2in) smaller than the pattern, you’ll be subtracting 5cm (2in) from the pattern; if it’s 7.5cm (3in) bigger, you’ll be adding 7.5cm (3in) and so on. If you need to make the bust bigger, you'll need to do a full bust adjustment (FBA) and if you need to make it smaller, you'll need to do a small bust adjustment (SBA).

Since the front bodice pattern 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. So, if you want to do a 5cm (2in) full bust adjustment, you'll need to add 2.5cm (1in) to the pattern piece.

There are a few ways in which you can do a bust adjustment, but the method I'm going to show you today is the "slash and spread" method. It sounds a bit aggressive but this just means that you do the adjustment by cutting into your pattern piece and either spread it apart to create more space at the bust, or overlap it to make it smaller.

To do a bust adjustment you will need:
  • a ruler (or pattern master if you have one)
  • glue stick and/or sticky tape
  • pencil
  • paper scissors
  • extra paper

As you'll be merrily snipping into your pattern piece with wild abandon for these adjustments, I thoroughly suggest tracing off the front bodice pattern piece so you can keep the original one intact in case you need to make any further adjustments. Make sure you trace all the notches, the dart and 'lengthen or shorten here' lines onto the new pattern piece.

Got your scissors and ruler at the ready? Ok, let's go. And remember, you've got this!

Full bust and small bust adjustments

17 May 2023

Five Ways to Tell the Right Side of Your Fabric

Tilly and the Buttons - Five Ways to Tell the Right Side of Your Fabric

Knowing which side of your fabric is the “right side” is an essential part of any sewing project. 

The “right side” of the fabric that is meant to be visible from the outside of your garment for everyone to see, while the “wrong side” is the side that will be hidden on the inside.

Sewing patterns will usually tell you to sew with right sides together, so the seams end up hidden on the inside of the garment. Exceptions include when you’re sewing French seams, in which case you start with the wrong sides together, or when you’re attaching a piece such as a patch pocket to a garment, when you’ll place the wrong side against the right side.

So it’s important to know which side is which! Some fabrics can be a lot easier to tell which is the right side than others. Others can be more tricky, but with these five simple tips, you should be able to identify yours in no time.

Black a floral fabric showing a clear right and wrong side.

1) See if the right side looks different

The first and most obvious way to check which side is which is to look for any visual differences between the two sides. If your fabric has a print on only one side, then that side is most likely the right side. If your fabric has a print on both sides, the right side may appear brighter than the wrong side. 

In the case of solid fabrics, you can hold the fabric up to a light source to check for any differences in tone or sheen between the two sides. Choose which one you prefer and make sure to keep your fabric the same when up when cutting your fabric to keep it consistent.

3 May 2023

How to Sew a Scallop Edge Stitch

Tilly and the Buttons - How to Sew a Scallop Stitch

Have you ever tried sewing with a scallop edge stitch? If you're looking to add a charming, decorative touch to your sewing projects, it’s a beautiful option. Sewing a scallop stitch on your sewing machine is not only simple, but also a fun and creative way to add unique detailing to garments, accessories, and home decor items. 

A close up picture showing a black scallop stitch on the edge of the ruffle on a plain light blue Marnie blouse.
A flat lay of the finished Marnie blouse displaying the scallop stitching.

What is a scallop stitch?

The scallop stitch is a decorative stitch on your sewing machine which creates a wavy effect. You can use it on its own to sew one or more pretty rows of stitching or, as I will be demonstrating here, along the edge of a hem, cutting away the fabric below to leave little scallops along the edge.

What do I need to sew a scallop stitch?

You will need a sewing machine that has the scallop stitch as an option, so check your manual to see if includes it. I’m using the Janome DKS100 Special Edition.

Depending on your fabric, you may also need some kind of stabiliser, such as spray starch, interfacing or embroidery stabiliser – I’ll talk about that a bit more below.

What garment projects could I sew the scallop stitch on?

In this tutorial, I'm sewing a scallop edge stitch on the hems of the shoulder ruffles on our Marnie blouse sewing pattern. You could also try this on the Lyra shirt dress collar, the hem of a Mabel dress or the flounce sleeve hems of an Indigo smock.

You can also sew scallops in the middle of a piece, like I have here on the front yoke of the Marnie blouse, in which case there’s no need to trim off the excess fabric.