21 July 2021

How to do bust adjustments on a pleated bodice

Tilly and the Buttons - bust adjustment on pleated bodice


Do you ever feel like your clothes would fit slightly better across the bust if there was a little bit more fabric, or conversely a little bit less fabric in that area? If this is something you agree with, then you might benefit from doing a bust adjustment to your bodice pattern pieces. 

You may already be familiar with doing adjustments on bust darted bodices, dartless bodices and even on pattern pieces for knit fabrics. But what about bodices with pleats at the waist?

After searching high and low on the internet and in my trusty fitting books, I couldn't find anything that covered how to do bust adjustments on a pleated bodice. As I wanted to do a full bust adjustment myself on my Skye sundress pattern, I knew that other people would want to do one too. So, I had a play around with the bodice, did some testing and came up with a system that has worked for me. I mean that's the best thing about sewing isn't it - you can make your own rules! 

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 a pattern in our sizes UK 6-24 size band, add 5cm (2in). If you're making a pattern in our sizes 16-34 size band, 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) in total to the pattern piece. We're going to add this fullness, or subtract it inside the pleats, you'll need to divide the number of you wish to add to or subtract from one half of the bodice between the number of pleats you'll be adjusting - don't worry if this sounds a bit complicated, there is more info below!

14 July 2021

Make Your Own Bias Binding

 How to make your own bias binding - a cute detail to add to your homemade clothes - Tilly and the Buttons

Want to add a pretty detail to your homemade clothes?

Bias binding is useful for creating a neat finish on seams that aren’t attached to anything else and don’t have a facing. The bias cut will allow the binding to stretch slightly, which is handy for getting around curves such as armholes and necklines.

For example, the armholes below the cap sleeve on our Etta dress sewing pattern, the back, underarms and straps of our FiFi camisole and the armholes and neckline of our new Skye sundress (which I’ll be sewing in the video tutorial below).

You can buy ready-made bias binding relatively easily. But it’s good to know how to make it yourself so you can make it in a print, colour and width of your choice. Homemade binding is one of those details that can make your handmade clothes truly special. It's also a great fabric stash buster!

You'll need a bias binding maker for the method shown in this blog post. But a bias binding maker isn’t an essential tool, as in the video tutorial below I’ll also show you how to make bias binding without one, just using your iron instead - yay!

Here's how to make it...



How to make your own bias binding - a cute detail to add to your homemade clothes - Tilly and the Buttons

You’ll need a large piece of fabric – a light- to medium-weight woven cotton will be fine. I'm using a Liberty print Tana cotton lawn. You'll also need a bias binding maker for the method I'm going to show you. You can get these handy tools in different sizes – I’m using a 12mm (1/2in) one (this is an affiliate link), which will make single fold bias binding that is 12mm (1/2in) wide once finished. This size is perfect for binding the armholes on the Etta dress.

If you want to make double fold bias binding, for example to bind a neckline edge where you want the binding to be visible on the outside as well as the inside of a garment, you'll press the single fold binding in half after it comes out of the maker. So you’ll end up with 6mm (1/4in) wide binding with a 12mm (1/2in) maker.

How to make your own bias binding - a cute detail to add to your homemade clothes - Tilly and the Buttons

12 July 2021

Fitting the Skye Sundress


Making the lovely Skye sundress and want a few hints and tips on fitting? Well then, this post is for you! Skye is one of our sewing patterns available in TWO size bands - either in sizes UK 6-24 or UK 16-34which has a whole new size chart, going up to a 152.5cm (60in) bust, 134.5cm (53in) waist and 155cm (61in) hip, with different proportions to get the best fit. 

Skye is perfect for stitching newbies as it’s easy to sew and fit – yay! This post will cover the most common fitting adjustments you might want to consider for your Skye dress. However, don’t feel like you need to do them all, or even any at all!

Skye has an easy-fitting empire waist bodice, which is gently shaped with bust pleats, and the neckline and armholes are finished on the inside with bias binding. The neckline has a gorgeous, slightly square scoop shape, and is designed to cover a bra, with a flowy, gathered skirt with mini-, knee- and maxi-hem lengths to choose from. Of course, there are deep in-seam pockets too!



We sometimes recommend that you make a "toile" (or "muslin") - a practice garment in cheap or spare fabric in a similar weight to the fabric you're going to use for the final garment to test the fit - however, it's not strictly necessary here. If you're unsure about your sizing and have some expensive fabric lined up to make the dress in, you could make a quick toile of the bodice to check the fit, leaving off the skirt. However, if you don't feel overly precious about your fabric, then go for it!

In this post we're going to cover: 

  • Choosing your size
  • Lengthening or shortening pattern pieces 
  • How to combine pattern sizes 
  • How to do wide and narrow shoulder adjustments

9 July 2021

Let's Sew Skye! Inspo & Fabric Shopping

Let's Sew Skye! Inspo & Fabric Shopping

Summer is in full swing and lucky for you we've just released the ultimate hot-weather sewing pattern, the Skye sundress. If you haven't read Nikki's introduction post, then pop on over because she's shared all the details you need to know about this easy-breezy design. 

MEET THE SKYE SUNDRESS!

The simple fitting empire waist bodice is gently shaped with pleats under the bust and has a neat bias binding finish on the inside. The slightly square scoop neckline is designed to cover a bra, with optional bra strap stays for added security. Add the optional faux ties to the straps for an extra touch of whimsy. Choose from mini-, knee- or maxi-length hemlines for the floaty, gathered skirt. And, of course, it has side seam pockets for your ice cream money!




Get your copy of the Skye sundress sewing pattern HERE. Skye is available in TWO size bands UK 6-24 / US 2-20 / EUR 34-52 or UK 16-34 / US 12-30 / EUR 44-62. If you are in between the two size bands or want to learn more about our new sizes, check out this post to see which one is right for you. 




Skye is a fabric versatile pattern, so we're sure you'll have something perfect waiting in your fabric stash already! We recommend light to medium weight fabrics such as cotton lawn, poplin, seersucker, lighter weight linen and blends, double gauze, viscose (rayon), lyocell (Tencel), silk or poly crepe de chine.

Now let's get some inspiration!

Checks and Gingham


Dresses: 1 / 2 / 3