Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Bodice Adjustment Bonanza: Tutorial Round-Up

Good afternoon, dear ones! Today, we're going to discuss bodices. Or, rather, we're going to discuss a dizzying number of ways you can change a bodice to suit both your shape and your style.

As I said at the beginning of The Autumn of 1000 Shirtdresses, I am not going to throw a million of my own tutorials at you. There are few personal reasons for this, including time constraints, but mostly I decided to do it this way, because so much great information is already out there. While I have years of consistent sewing under my belt, I'm by no means an expert. However, I can Google with the best of them. This is how I learned to sew--reading good tutorials, hoarding books by actual experts, and not being afraid to screw things up. That's what muslin and tracing paper are made for!

To that end, I've rounded up some fantastic tutorials today for a myriad of bodice adjustments. While many of these tutorials were made in conjunction with specific patterns, most adjustment tutorials are applicable to a wide range of bodices. Find one that has similar qualities to your pattern (princess seams, two darts, one darts, etc.) and you're set! This list was not made from just blind Googling, but instead carefully curated by looking at forums on each of these topics and seeing which ones worked best for other seamstresses. I'm hoping these tutorial round-ups will help you cut time, when searching for adjustment advice.

Small Bust Adjustments

The Small Bust Adjustment (SBA) is essential for those who find that, while a pattern's shoulders and waist might fit, there's a bit too much room along the bustline. While McCall's 6696, which I'm using throughout this challenge, has separate pieces for A/B and C/D cups, it may still be necessary for you to tweak the pattern to your exact fit needs! These four SBA tutorials below will cover the vast majority of dresses, buttoned or otherwise.

Small Bust Adjustment by Haley for City Stitching -- As part of the Emery Dress sew-a-long, Haley posted this textbook tutorial for an SBA on a two-dart bodice. This tutorial is perfect for patterns like McCall's 6696 and has a ton of clear, helpful pictures.

How To Do a Small Bust Adjustment by Megan Nielsen -- This is a tutorial for dresses with only a bust dart, like the Darling Ranges dress. It's well-written, clear, and uses computerized lines for teaching purposes, which I find really helpful.

My Cup Does Not Runneth Over by Hungry Zombie Couture -- Another look at the small bust adjustment, this tutorial has been recommended all over the place as one that delves deeper into the hows & whys of the SBA. In it, you're shown not only how to make a dart smaller, but how to eliminate one altogether, should you wish.

Princess Seams and the Small Bust by Ann Steeves of Threads -- This is a really simple version of an SBA tutorial, but also gets great reviews in the sewing community. Unlike an FBA, SBAs are fairly straight-forward on a princess seamed bodice and just require a bit of pinching in the right places. How lovely is that?

Full Bust Adjustments: Y-Method

While I've always been a fan of the traditional FBA, as I showed in last week's tutorial, there are many who prefer this updated take on the technique. Pioneered by Palmer/Pletsch, in their Full Busted DVD, this method is best used for FBAs larger than one inch, when the resulting darts can be unwieldy. It's fairly difficult to find good demonstrations of this technique in the wild, but these two are ones I've referred to myself.

Colette Macaron FBA by Alana of Lazy Stitching -- In my opinion, Alana is the queen of demystifying Full Bust Adjustments. She always explains them with such enviable clarity and fearlessness, making the reader completely confident that everything is going to be alright in the end, once you tape those weird bits together. Her FBA for the Macaron is no exception and is, bar none, one of the most exhaustive Y-method tutorials out there. Though the bodice shape is quite different, it's easily translatable to a standard bodice.

Full Bust Adjustment Tips by Alison at Another Little Crafty Creation -- Alison shows a splendid example of a Y-dart method, on the Sewaholic Cambie, as well as tips for splitting up unwieldy darts. While this isn't quite as exhaustive a tutorial as the one above, the images are beautifully clear and helpful.

Moving A Bust Apex

As some of you may have noticed in my FBA tutorial, I treat the moving of an apex as a separate issue, to be dealt with after the completion of an FBA. Not only was this the way I was taught, but I find that many apex issues are mitigated in the process of spreading the bodice pieces, as my own apex is usually in the same horizontal plane as the pattern's. Having a muslin that can actually fit over my bubbies, post-FBA, also helps fine tune the dart locations in a way that flat pattern alterations just can't. To that end, tutorials about simply moving darts are so helpful to have on file!

How to Alter Bust Dart Height by Megan Nielsen -- A fantastic, concise tutorial on moving darts. This is such an easy skill anyway, but Megan's clear images and helpful hints can keep you on the right track.

Fitting Myself: Lowering a Bust Point by Andrea Schewe -- This tutorial is a bit more in depth look at the whys of lowering a bust point, complete with muslin pictures and all the red lines you could wish for. I especially like her tip on sitting, in a tight garment, so you get a real sense of fit.

Splitting Darts

With any Full Bust Adjustment, there is the chance for darts to become unwieldy. Common wisdom states that any dart more than 3 or 4 inches wide is too wide, which may result in puckering or warping. I tend to treat this rule on a pattern-by-pattern basis, but having the ability to split a dart into smaller, more manageable pieces is absolutely invaluable. There is no reason to fight with a 5 inch dart, when you can sew two, perfectly lovely 2.5 inch ones instead.

FBA Bonus: Splitting Darts by Rachel for Coletterie -- This tutorial has gotten a bit of flack in some corners of the internet, but many people have found it extraordinarily helpful. In my opinion, your take on this tutorial is going to depend on whether you prefer multiple waist or bust darts. I don't mind either and find this to be a clear, helpful presentation of this skill, which works on either dart type.

Darling Ranges Dart Manipulation by Megan Nielsen -- I love this tutorial, y'all. LOVE it. In this, Megan quickly goes through almost every kind of thing you can do a dart, from splitting them to curving them. Even better, she does it all with her characteristic attention to detail and clear, helpful images.

Shoulder Adjustments

I am constantly needing to adjust the shoulders on my dress patterns, y'all. Especially as patterns go up in size, shoulders can skew to comical proportions. Reigning them back in is fairly straightforward, but essential. As part of the Emery Dress sewalong, Haley provided two fantastic, well-illustrated tutorials on both aspects of shoulder adjustments.

How to Do a Narrow Shoulder Adjustment by Haley for City Stitching

How to Do a Wide Shoulder Adjustment by Haley for City Stitching

Back Adjustments

Sometimes, the front of the bodice fits beautifully, while the bodice back is a pulling or gaping disaster. Like everything else, there are fixes for these problems, too! Don't you love the never-ending rabbit hole of fitting adjustments? 

Problem Areas: The Back  by Sandra Betzina, excerpted from Fast Fit -- Like everything the great Sandra Betzina explains, these quick adjustments for both narrow and wide backs are a revelation in fitting. Thorough explanations and clear pictures will definitely help you with these common back bodice issues. 

How to Fit My Body by Sunni of A Fashionable Stitch -- I'm going to let you in on a secret, kittens. My number one sewing crush is Sunni, from A Fashionable Stitch, and this tutorial is an excellent example of why. In clear, helpful language, she walks us through her own problems fitting her shoulder blades and how she fixes it. Everything is beautifully explained, easy to replicate on one's own, and it works. I've used this exact method so many times, since first reading her post, and am constantly amazed by its success. I love esoteric fitting tips like this one and Sunni is a fount of them!

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