How to do a quick full bust adjustment without any darts

How to do a quick full bust adjustment without any darts

Posted by Helen | March 20, 2017 | Blackwood Cardigan Sewalong, Sewing Tutorials
full bust adjustment no darts

full bust adjustment no darts

Today will be the first post in a 2 part series on doing full bust adjustments on patterns without any darts.  For the first post, we will be covering a quick and dirty method that works well for more forgiving pattern designs and stretchy knits.

Works best for: A small Full Bust Adjustment, not a large one (learn the difference below)

Pros: Easy, simple, fast

Cons: Does not add length in the front (those with large busts may need extra length so the fabric doesn’t lift up in the front)

For the Blackwood Cardigan, this simple method works well. Because the pattern is designed to be open in the front and fall down the sides of the body, a small FBA works well and it is OK for most people that no length is added in the front. 

Blackwood Cardigan PDF Sewing Pattern

You can grab your copy of the Blackwood Cardigan here.

Do you need a full bust adjustment? The first thing we need to do is measure our high bust and our full bust. To measure the high bust, place the tape around your back, under your armpits, and across your chest ABOVE your breasts. To get your full bust, measure your bust at the nipples as you would normally do.

full bust adjustment no darts

If the difference between the two measurements is more than 2”, you may want to try a full bust adjustment (FBA). If the difference is more than 4”,  you may want to skip this method and try the full on method we will be diving into tomorrow.  That said, given that we are working with knits and this pattern is designed to be open at the front, this method may work for larger busts too.  It really does involve some experimenting for the individual.

Let’s get started on our quick ‘cheater’ FBA!

You will need a large piece of paper to trace your new pattern piece onto. Lay your original pattern piece on top and then follow the instructions below.

1. Trace all the way around your pattern piece.

full bust adjustment no darts

2. Divide the difference in your bust measurements by 2. Measure that amount out from the bottom of the armscye and make a mark. For example, if I have a difference of 3” between my high bust and full bust, I divide that by 2 to get 1.5” and measure 1.5” out.

full bust adjustment no darts

3. Holding the corner of the pattern in place, pivot the pattern piece out to meet the mark.

full bust adjustment no darts

4. Draw a new armscye curve.

full bust adjustment no darts

5. Holding the pattern piece in place again, pivot the pattern back again to the bottom corner meets the original traced lines.

full bust adjustment no darts

6. Draw a new side seam.

full bust adjustment no darts

7. Lift up your pattern piece and see your new added ‘wedge’. This will give you more room at the bust. Cut out your new pattern piece. Don’t forget to add in the notches!

full bust adjustment no darts


Do I need to do any adjustments to any other pieces? No! That is another bonus of this quick and dirty method. The length of the armscye has not changed drastically enough to warrant adjusting the sleeve and the back side seam can be matched up with the new front side seam. Remember, this adjustment works best for small FBA’s, so if you need to add a lot of extra room for the girls, try the adjustment method we will be covering tomorrow.

I hope this post on doing a ‘cheater’ FBA has been helpful! Let me know if you have tried this before or any other tips you have for making this method work for you!


Blog Comments

This is perfect! Thank you so much. I always need a little extra room for the girls and only know how to do a FBA with a dart.

Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’ve got another tutorial up today on another option for this too!

Very clear instructions – I’m almost sad I’ve never needed an FBA because you make it so easy to draft for one!

Thanks! This quick method works so well for knits 🙂

adding width at the armscye is really no different than going up a size and blending back down at the hip, it also creates ‘batwings’ under the arm

Thanks, Diane! I know what you mean. If you make a large adjustment using this method, wings can develop. That is why this adjustment is best for a small full bust adjustment, and has worked quite well for me.

Thank you for this. No harm in having even more FBA methods under one’s belt!! I’d think if the result was ‘batwings’ (see above) then the boobies aren’t needing the space, otherwise the excess would have been used up in front?

This is sooo good Helen! What a quick and easy adjustment!

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