The bust has probably got to be one of the most difficult areas of the human body to fit correctly; an incorrect bust will impact upon the neck, the waist, the upper bust, shoulders, shoulder blades, and more.
Lesson 1 – Meet Kathleen Cheetham and Get Started
Most commercial companies will draft for a B cup, however this is not the case for all companies. It can be helpful to check this out prior to purchase, as it will help when measuring and adjusting your pattern pieces. Kathleen suggest picking a commercial sewing pattern based upon your upper bust measurements, and then adjusting your pattern at the bust to fit better. Heres a tip for when measuring: not sure where your centre-back neck is? Wear a necklace, and where ever it lies naturally is where your neck starts and ends. Now in this lesson Kathleen talks about how to find your cup size. If you read further down in this review – under the Cons section – you will find that I had some pretty bad gripes with this.
Lesson 2 – Preparing the Pattern
If you don’t previously know how to lengthen or shorter your sewing patterns, then Kathleen will show you how to do this in this lesson. Although if you are planning to do a bit of custom fitting, I do highly suggest you watch Fast Track Fitting (read my review of Fast Track Fitting) instead. Interestingly, Kathleen makes all her adjustments on her original pattern paper, prior to transferring to craft paper for the next stage. I do this differently, instead tracing and adjusting my pattern on to tracing paper so that my original paper is never cut or altered.
Lesson 3 – Understanding the Bust Point
To find the bust point Kathleen pins the sewing pattern piece to her mannequin, finds the bust apex and then marks it with a pen. She does state that you can do this yourself in the mirror by pinning your tissue paper to your clothing. Again, this is assuming that you plan to use the original sewing tissue paper to make these adjustments. Frankly, if you have tried to do this with standard printer paper (which would be most commonly used with downloadable patterns) or poster paper, this can be quite hard to do – the thinness of the paper will allow to “shape” to the body more. I personally take my measurements and measure it out.
Adjusting a Side-Seam Dart Top
Let’s assume that your bust point is higher than the pattern piece. As detailed as Kathleen gets, she essentially draws a line from the dart’s midpoint to your newly marked bust point, and then informs you that “the next step will be done in an upcoming lesson where we actually will take this particular pattern piece and we will either make it larger or smaller depending upon the exercise we will be done”. Well, that was helpful. Kind of makes me think, what was the point of that part of the tutorial – would it have not been better to just do that part of the tutorial when you discuss all the steps? Why teach me part one, to later point me back to this lesson…? Let’s assume that your bust point is lower than the pattern piece. Drawing a line from the dust mid-point to your bust point will end up making your dart to slope downwards. A downwards sloping dart often ends up looking odd, and is best to be avoided. Thankfully Kathleen takes you through the full process of sliding your dart downwards; cutting out your dart point and moving it downwards.
Truing Up the Side Seam
Apparently you will learn more about side-seam dart adjustments in Lesson 5. Extending upon from lowering the dart as before, you will need to true up your side seam. By folding your paper, you will need to redraw your curve and dart legs.
Adjusting a Princess-Seam Dart
Since a princess-seam doesn’t have a dart in the traditional sense, this part of the video will discuss how to adjust the curve to change the height of your bust point. It’s very similar to adjusting the dart, as discussed above. Kathleen cuts out a box surrounding the dart, and using the grain line as a reference point, moves the box to the new location. Finally she trues the pattern appropriately.
Lesson 4 – Adjusting No-Dart Tops
It’s common to buy a garment (or pattern for a garment) that has no darts. But why bother adjusting a basic t-shirt for example? Well the garment will just hide your figure, gaping in all the wrong places; your sleeves might be massive, the neckline might gape, the waist might be absolutely enormous and hide your true figure.
Whats the difference between a shoulder dart or a side sleeve dart? If you have a lot of breast tissue in your upper chest, then a shoulder seam dart might be more appropriate for you. If your more like me, and you don’t have a lot of breast tissue in your upper chest – it’s the most common type – then a side sleeve dart will work better for you.
Planning the Darts for a Larger Bust
Mark your bust point, then draw lines from the bust point directly downwards – parallel to the grain line – and another line from the arm scythe. Now you are going to do the slash and pivot method, keeping your pivot point near the arm scythe. When calculating your “dart” size, remember to half the amount you need. For example, if you need a total of 3 inches in at the front of the blouse, then you will want 1.5 inches on your pattern. Also, keep in mind the ease that is already in the pattern.
What you will then need to do, is fix the dart that has now opened up at the waist; it quite probably is absolutely massive! Don’t worry, Kathleen will walk you through adjusting that problem; essentially you are going to create a second dart to pivot somewhere between your waist point and your underarm. You will end up creating a side-seam dart! Not only did you create a side-seam dart, but you added enough fullness at your bust point for a comfortable and flattering fit. How cool was that?
Planning the Darts for a Smaller Bust
This, in essence, is very similar to the above tutorial. You will mark your bust point, and mark your reduction point. You will then use the slash and pivot method to move the bust point inwards. To counteract the reduction at the waist as well, you will need to add a second dart at the side seam. Not only this, but women with smaller busts often have rather gaping armholes. Kathleen will show you how to create a dart in the actual armhole region to reduce that bulk.
What I don’t understand for this step is why Kathleen ended up teaching you three dart steps, when the same solution could have been done in
Lesson 5 – Adjusting Existing Side-Seam Darts
Adjusting Existing Side-Seam Darts
Similar to Lesson 4, Kathleen has a shirt that she has increased the bust in. However, this shirt has a pre-existing dart, whereas in the previous lesson we created the dart. You can’t just simply add a dart anywhere, if the dart already exists. When we split the dart, the original point may no longer point to the apex, and the point may have also been split open. Kathleen will take you step-by-step through how to redraw your dart so that it matches the original design.
Adjusting a Curved Hem
In many bodices, the side seam is often curved, rather than straight. After all, our bodies tend to be more curvy, and a curvy side seam can really help establish a nice silhouette. When you edit your side-seam darts, you will need to true the pattern. Adjusting a curved hem or seam is similar to adjusting a straight one, however you will often find yourself using a curved french ruler rather than a standard ruler.
Lesson 6 – Adjusting Princess-Seamed Tops
Princess seams look absolutely gorgeous on any body shape, so it makes sense to know how to adjust them to fit on your fuller or smaller bust. Again, the process is pretty much the same slash and pivot method we have learnt so far. Sorry for the really short summary here, I just feel like I am repeating myself a lot.
- Metric Conversion Chart in PDF – which comes with all Craftsy classes
- Supplies and Resources PDF, including:
- A measurement chart
- Practice worksheets with a front-side seam dart, a front with no dart, and princess seamed slopers. Really helpful for practicing – just print and practice until you feel comfortable and confident.
Here’s a link of my suggestion, that really helps when trying to find your own bra size: Four Ways Measure Your Own Bra Size. I believe that a proper fitting bra is a pre-requisite of this class.
I really like how they have provided practice material in the Supplies and Resources PDF. It makes it so quick and easy to practice the techniques learnt in the class without having to dig through your own sewing patterns for appropriate pattern pieces. Plus, no risk of ruining the pattern pieces since you are working on “practice pieces”.
Wow. Digital improvements! Whenever Kathleen writes down the measurements of her mannequins on pen and paper, somehow the video is then shown with the results being marked in a digital program (think Paint or Adobe Photoshop) and digital pen (imagine drawing numbers and writing with a mouse)! The same could be done with text in post-production (as the written notes have been done) and been so much clearer and professional.
A number of times, Kathleen would start a step, and then as an afterthought, realise that by doing another step first it will help that current step. That is ok, but it happens several times. I think that the videos should have had better post editing here, where the viewer shouldn’t even see her having the afterthought; instead have the steps laid out in logical order.
My Biggest Gripe
Now I have a BIG problem. I really want to put that in huge, huge, huge letters. They don’t teach you how to measure your bra size!!!!! Can you believe it!? I honestly just can’t get past this. For a class based upon how to correctly fit the bust, they completely skip over how to accurately measure one’s bust and bra size correctly.
I can’t overlook the fact that the class didn’t show the different measurement methods for bra fitting, and correct fitting. This has to be one of the biggest reasons that I am hesitant to recommend this class: the whole point of this class is about bust fitting… it helps if you have a very solid starting point for one of women’s most common fitting problems.
Having some experience in fitting, I found that the most helpful material really started around the end of lesson three onwards. If you haven’t done any custom alterations prior to this class, all the lessons will be helpful. Lesson four – adjusting no dart tops – was absolutely great; even with my practice at alterations, Kathleen makes this somewhat difficult and daunting process seem so easy.
Adjust the Bust will work complimentary with other Craftsy courses, such as Fast Track Fitting, by building upon your knowledge. It summarises how to make adjustments for the bust quite well – which ultimately is what the class is about.
I think that the price is a little steep at US$39.99 (approximately AU$42); although plenty of examples are given, you are only really taught one technique throughout the entire course. However, if you are planning to do any bust adjustments and fitting, then this class is still worth checking out.
I would say that advanced-beginners (comfortable enough with sewing to start custom fitting) right through to advanced sewers will find this class beneficial.
If you haven’t already, I suggest taking a look at my guide on How To Correctly Measure Your Breasts And Fit A Bra.