Adventures in full-bust adjustments

Well, surprise, surprise. I wasn’t sure how to handle the full-bust adjustment on Butterick 5846. The front and back bodice pieces gather into yokes at the top and pleat into the waist, like so:

There's a lot happening on the front bodice of this pattern.

There’s a lot happening on the front bodice of this pattern, so I wasn’t sure how to handle a full-bust adjustment. You can’t tell from the drawing, but the front and back yokes are separate pieces, so there is a seam at the top of the shoulder.

With the structure of the pattern being what it is, I didn’t even hazard a guess about what to do and instead went straight to sewing a muslin of the bodice. The results were surprising.

First, the back and neckline fit fine. The side seams are right where they should be, and I could pin the center fronts together at the top. Then things became wonky. The center fronts spread wider and wider from neckline to waist until they were four inches apart at the bottom.

Wait, shouldn’t the gap only be at the bustline, not the front waist, too?

It seems that I don’t need just a full-bust adjustment; my front torso from bust to waist is a size bigger than my back torso! How weird is that? I needed four more inches across the front width but not at the neck or the shoulders. Well, with the gathers and stitched pleats, I just added 2 inches in width from the top to the bottom of the bodice piece, in the space between the pleats. I also added 2 inches in length above the pleats to lower the bust point, and took out that two inches at the side seam with a dart. I also added one inch of overall length to the front and back bodice pieces. The pattern pieces now look like this:

There is an awful lot of slashing and spreading going on here.

There is an awful lot of slashing and spreading going on here. Both of these pieces gather into top yoke pieces that fit fine.

Of course, now I’ll need to add four inches across the skirt front. But not the back. This is all pretty dicey pattern engineering, to say the least, so I am not cutting my nice teal and navy cotton lawn quite yet. I have 4 yards of a bright and gaudy Paris-themed quilt fabric in my stash (purchased for a work event, long story), so I’m going to sew it up in that and see if my adjustments work out.

I told you it was bright and gaudy.

My “wearable” muslin fabric. I told you it was bright and gaudy.

After all that, I am hoping it will be clear to me how to fine-tune any problems. It will also give me a chance to see how bad the gathered sleeves might look on me. I have some off-white buttons in my stash, but I want red thread for sewing them on and for the topstitching, not that it will stand out much on this print. I’ll be heading to Jo-Ann’s in the morning. I just pulled the fabric from the dryer, so I’ll cut it out tomorrow while the boys are in Oakland watching the Giants play the A’s. Maybe I’ll get a crazy but wearable Paris-themed dress out of this experiment. I don’t know what else I would have ever done with that fabric.

If cutting up the Paris fabric means the teal and navy lawn ends up as a well-fitting dress, the Paris fabric will not have died in vain.

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