Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Help! Sizing dilemma...

This wasn't what I was planning on posting about today, but I'm hoping for some help. You see, last night I was trying to start a new project, however as all my options were (essentially) brand spanking new projects they required tracing off patterns, and I just became completely overwhelmed. I started with re-measuring myself (like a good little sewist) and comparing my measurements to the size charts. I also measured my high-bust as well as my bust, as suggested by many, including Gertie's new book.

I have since, with the benefit of a clearer head after a nights sleep worked out what to do with regards to one of the patterns, the Rooibos pattern as I've I've found a great resource for a FBA to the rooibos pattern on the Colette patterns blog. However, I'm still confused about two patterns - the Jasmine Blouse from Colette Patterns, and the Portrait Blouse from Gertie's book.

If I look at my measurements on the first sizing chart for the Colette Patterns I span a massive range of sizes! My high bust gives a size 4, bust an 8, waist a 10 and hips a 12 (above pic). I know from my previous attempt at a jasmine that I can't just make a size 8 in the bust, as it's way too big in the arms and shoulders, so I definitely need to start with a size 4 there and do a FBA (Full Bust Adjustment).

Looking at the second sizing chart, the one in Gertie's book, I'm almost exactly a straight size 8 if I use my 'standard' measurements (below pic), but if I use my high bust (a measurement Gertie suggests using in the book) I should make a size 4 and do a FBA.

Now, obviously I need to do similar things with both of these patterns - a FBA. However, I have a confession - I've never done a FBA before and I'm a bit daunted. (I know, I know, I should probably have done one by now, but somehow I've gotten away without having to).

There's quite a lot of FBA resources around, this one and this one both look quite good and clear, so how to actually do a FBA isn't the issue. The issue is with the waist and hip measurements - obviously a FBA adds to the waist (and hips in these patterns as there's no waist seam), so do I need to grade out to a bigger size at the waist and hips or will the FBA add enough size in?

The portrait blouse has pleats below the bust (a bit like the Sencha blouse by Colette patterns), whereas the jasmine has no under-bust shaping so the answer is possibly different for the two.

So I guess the conclusion to this slightly confused post is help! Do you have experience doing a FBA? Any advice or suggestions? Please?


  1. Ah. The dreaded FBA. I'm becoming more and more familiar with it (sigh). The thing I really need to start looking at with doing FBA's is noting how much it changes the front as compared to the back. In theory, yes, you could just use the width that you will get from the FBA being carried down to the waist/hip area as your adjustment to those areas, but what you will be getting is additional fabric only in the front. If you don't adjust for this, you could end up with side seams that don't sit at the sides and a significant change in length at the sides. If the FBA only gives you 1/2 as many inches as you need for waist/hips, then you can add the other inches to the back. If the FBA gets you to exactly the right measurements, you may want to take a bit off the sides of the front waist/hips and add to the back pattern piece. I recently had these lessons pounded into me while working on a Macaron. Not a pretty sight, but I blogged it anyway. I need to get working on another to redeem myself.

  2. Sorry I cannot help; FBA being outside of my list of adjustments I need to do... but Carolyn's advice above seems very sound to me. Good luck!

  3. I have to do an FBA for the sewaholic cambie dress (I think? Something isn't fitting me right around the bust anyway...). But for the Jasmine, go smaller! I foubd it to be a really large pattern personally, even after tracing out my size.

  4. Carolyn seems to know what she's talking about. Me personally... I've always picked a size based on my bust measurement, then adjusted to fit. This means I ALWAYS adjust though. And I can't help thinking that if I actually learnt to do the FBA thing, that I'd be an instant convert and then do it for everything... I feel your pain :X
    Maybe one day (soon) I'll do a trial FBA and compare the results to a non-FBA. That's the only way I'd be able to convince myself it works, and well!

  5. I going to add to your help list --- Debbie @ Stitches & Seams ( Then what Carolyn mentions is quite correct. When doing alterations they always say one-at-a-time -- so when you get done with the FBA then measure, check to see it your need other adjustments, etc. I for instance have a fuller tummy too, so my front is often a little large then the back, which allows the side-seams to be where they belong. I had an alteration book that stated not to just measure the waist, but measure the front half then the back half, same with hips, giving you a better idea of where the side seams should be. Debbie though has examples on several types of FBA depending on the pattern -- raglan, princess, etc. Good Luck!


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