the fitting room: enmore full bust adjustment

The Enmore Halter Dress  + Top pattern includes three cup sizes, but sometimes you may still need to make a full bust adjustment (FBA). To maintain the design lines of the pattern, you will need to move the dart after completing the full bust adjustment. Lyndsey is here today to demonstrate how she adjusted her Enmore muslin.

Since the Enmore is a halter, I used my full bust measurement (41″) to select pattern size 14. My upper bust measurement is 37″, meaning I needed the D-cup shelf bra piece. After fitting the shelf bra, I still needed an additional 3/4″ FBA. I adjusted the pattern piece using the regular slash and spread technique (see the example of an FBA on the Cinema Dress).

Now that the shelf bra fits correctly, I knew I would need to make the same adjustment to the dress/top front. However, the front pattern piece does not have a dart, and I didn’t want to add a dart as a result of the FBA. To solve this challenge, I performed the FBA and used dart manipulation to control the fullness in another location.

Steps for a Full Bust Adjustment

First, add 1/2″ seam allowances to the neck, armscye, and side seam (the photos for this example are not to scale).

Full Bust Adjustment

Next, we will add four guidelines for the FBA. Create a mark at the bust apex, marked as the green dot in this photo. I was able to locate my apex from fitting the shelf bra. Once the apex is marked, draw a horizontal line 1 from the apex to the side seam (pink line). Draw line 2 parallel to the center front from the apex to the bottom hem (black). Draw line 3 from the apex to the armscye, about 1/3 up from the side seam (purple line). Finally, draw line 4 from line 2 to the center front (blue line) in the bottom right corner.

Full Bust Adjustment

Now we will cut along the guidelines. First, cut up line 2 (black line), through the apex, and up line 3 (purple line) but DO NOT cut through the seam allowance. You’ll create a hinge to allow the pieces to move apart. Next, cut along line 1 (pink line) from the side seam to the apex, but DO NOT cut through the apex point, leaving a hinge to keep the pieces connected. Finally, cut along line 4 (blue line) and move the piece so that the bottom hem is even with the hem on the left side of the pattern piece. Spread the pieces apart the required width; for my adjustment, I needed to add 3/4″.

Full Bust Adjustment

Next, place paper under the pattern pieces and tape to secure the new shape. In a standard FBA, you would tape under all open areas. However, we will leave the side dart free since we will perform dart manipulation.

Full Bust Adjustment

Dart Manipulation

Darts take in ease and provide shape to a garment. Dart manipulation is the process of taking the existing darts in a sewing pattern and manipulating them around the pattern to achieve a different look. When you manipulate a dart, the amount of ease being controlled does not change.

First, draw a new line from the bust point to the location of the new dart. In this example, I am rotating the dart to the neckline.

Full Bust Adjustment-Dart Manipulation

Next, cut along the line from the neckline to the bust point, but DO NOT cut through the bust point. Close the side seam dart and tape it shut. The side seam is now back to the original shape!

Full Bust Adjustment-Dart Manipulation

Finally, place paper under the open area and tape the pattern to secure the shape.

Full Bust Adjustment-Dart Manipulation

The neckline would be the location of the new dart. However, I didn’t want a dart on the front of my dress! The neckline is already gathered so I will ease the additional fullness into the neckline gathering instead of sewing a dart. This will provide the extra width and shaping I need for my full bust.

Final fit

You can see in the muslin pictures below that the FBA is a success. There are no draglines or tightness across the full bust. The hem is level and parallel to the ground in front and the back.

Enmore Top with completed Full Bust AdjustmentEnmore Top with completed Full Bust Adjustment


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  1. Another excellent tutorial Lyndsey. Cant wait to see the final version!

    1. Thanks, Asmita! I’m very excited for this one!

  2. Lisa

    Thank you so much for the detailed explanation. I’ve been wanting to sew up this pattern for myself, but hesitating because I know I’d need the same adjustment and I always struggle with the process.

    1. Thanks, Lisa! It looks like a lot of steps but it goes pretty fast. Can’t wait to see your version!

  3. Tamar Rein

    super clear and concise instructions, thank you!

    1. Thanks, Tamar! Glad you found the post helpful.

  4. Jaimie

    Why does a full bust adjustment usually include the addition of fabric all the way from the bust apex to the hip? Having a larger than average bust doesn’t mean the rest of the body is larger too.

    1. Hi Jamie! One reason the FBA extends to the hem of a shirt is that a full bust needs both width and length. You often see this when a shirt hangs higher in the front than the back.
      In a typical fitting shell from one of the large commercial patterns, the bodice only extends to the waist, so an FBA would only add length and width to the front bodice piece down to the waist. (You take care of the difference between the waist and the hips on the skirt in a fitting shell.)
      I also consulted my copy of The Palmer/Pletsch Complete Guide to Fitting. The PP tissue fitting method has you make adjustments in a particular order because some adjustments affect later adjustments. The order has you complete the FBA before final hip width adjustments. I am pear-shaped, so I never need less width on the hips. However, if I were fitting someone who needed an FBA but also had narrow hips, I would do the FBA, check that the FBA is giving enough width and length to the bust, and then take in the hips.
      I’d love for anyone else to add in!

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