Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pinboards, Sunshine and FBAs

Well it was an odd weekend - plenty of time to sew, but a lack of enthusiasm to get in front of the sewing machine.  Sigh!  Does anyone else have weekends like that?

The weather was BEAUTIFUL and warm, and the last thing I felt like sewing was a housecoat... that may have to go back into the cupboard until the weather starts to cool down again sometime next year...

So I did something I've been threatening to do for a long time - I finally got a pin board and organised my fabric stash!

I set up on the floor of the lounge room in the sun with my fabric stash, a tape measure, post-it notes, texta, scissors and pins.  Then I went about measuring all of my good fabrics - I didn't worry about linings, or plain cottons, or anything I'd previously cut bits out of.  Then I cut a swatch of the fabric, wrote the length and a description on a post-it and pinned it to the board!  And I also wrote down what I intetend on doing with it at some point, so I now also have a plan of what I've got coming up... sort of.

And then serendipitously, my Dad arrived on some other errand, and was able to hang it on the wall for me - good ol'Dad!  What would I do without him.

So I'm hoping that this board will keep me focused and stop me adding to my fabric stash...  What do you think my chances are?

Doing this little project did increase my enthusiasm for sewing, but I had something else I wanted to do first - research Full Bust Adjustments.

'Whaaa' I hear you say.

Did you know that commercial patterns (including vintage ones) are designed specifically for women with B cup boobs???  I didn't either, but it sure explains why when the bust measurement on the pattern is the same as mine, the garment still doesn't seem to fit properly!  So some clever person at some point in time invented a Full Bust Adjustment (or FBA) for those ladies who's 'cup runneth over'.  There is also a Small Bust Adjustment... but I don't need to worry about that one, so I didn't read about it... sorry!

FBAs are covered briefly in Gertie's book, and she does a good job of quickly explaining how to do an adjustment - but I wanted to know more.

Now I'm not going to write a tutorial on this cause there are a lot of really good ones out there, but here is the basic idea:

  1. Make a copy of the front bodice piece on some tracing paper or something.  I like to use calico because it holds its shape really well and doesn't distort when you pull on it AND its fabric so you can sew it and pin it and put it on without worrying about tearing it.
  2. Pin the darts together (or sew it if you like unpicking things) and either hold it up on yourself or put it on your headless helper if you are lucky enough to have one.  Measure the distance between the centre front of the pattern, and the centre front of you (or your headless helper).  Remember this number!
  3. Un-pin the darts (or unpick if you sewed) and draw lines and cut as per Gertie's illustration.
  4. Spread pieces as shown in the illustration making the vertical gap in the centre of the piece the same width as the number you remembered earlier.  I did this bit on another piece of calico, so I then just pinned it down and cut it out again.
  5. Before you unpin your spread pieces you need to redraw the darts  The bust dart on the side will be deeper - but the vertical dart at the waist... from experimenting I found that redrawing the original dart wasn't enough for me, so I pinned it to my headless helper and made my own dart...  I couldn't find much written down about that bit.
So now I have a new skill which I am looking forward to perfecting with my next project!

And another note on headless helpers - the boob size on mine (and the other ones I've seen) all seem to be about a B cup - just like commercial patterns.  And increasing the size of the bust using the dials means you don't get a correct under bust measurement.  Nor does it have any kind of adjustment to create a little pot belly - and I don't have a washboard stomach...  There is a commercially available system to fix all this, and I almost bought one, until they quoted me $70 postage - which is almost as much as the product.  So I came up with my own idea...  I changed the underbust measurement on my helper to the same as mine, then put on of my bras on it and hey presto! it looks a lot more like me!  It will help you if you do the same thing with your headless helper BEFORE you use it to help you make your FBA.

Hmmm - now to look on my board to get inspiration as to what my next project might be!!!  Any suggestions?



  1. I LOVE your board! Its so organized and it will def keep you focused. It will be hard to not buy new fabrics only bc they are so tempting esp when they are on sale heheh Oh and daddys so rock-mine does things like that for me all the time hehehe xox

    1. Thanks Bunny! It is near impossible not to buy new fabric, let me tell you... but I try :)