Thursday, March 1, 2001

Alterations: Full Bust Adjustment with Twisted Bodice

I started with McCall's 4652, a knit top with a twisted front and empire seam.

First, I loosely joined the upper and lower bodice pieces with tape.

Next, I made my usual Full Bust Alteration (FBA), spreading the pattern about 1-3/8". You should be doing the FBA with additional tissue under the pattern as shown in the next photo. Otherwise, you will have to reposition everything again like I did. :)

Next, trace the sideseam onto the tissue underneath, as shown in red here. The traced line must be dark enough for you to see under one layer of tissue.

To eliminate sewing a horizontal bust dart and maintain the bust alteration and sideseam shaping, close the dart by rotating the pattern clockwise. Draw the sideseam traced above onto the rotated pattern, as shown in blue here.

Cut away the tissue outside of the traced sideseam. You have now rotated the excess of your bust dart to the sideseam.

Secure your new tissue additions (tape, glue, etc.) and then cut the upper bodice section away using the original pattern shape as your cutting line. True the upper and lower sections as necessary. Add a seam allowance to the top (empire) seam of the lower section. Where I cut already incorporated the seam allowance for the top section, but cut away the SA from the bottom section, which is why I only added a SA back to the bottom section.

Because this top is a 4-way knit, there really isn't any other way to "tissue fit" the knit except by using the actual knit. After cutting one bodice section in the fashion fabric and roughly holding it up to my bust as a test, I decided I still needed additional length in the upper bodice section, since by cutting on the original upper bodice empire line to maintain the shape of that seam for piecing later, I really didn't add any add'l length (which I need) to the bust piece yet. I slashed the pattern under the armhole and spread it vertically to add about 3/4" more to the overall length of the upper section. I have a DD bust cup and this fabric is very stretchy -- your mileage may vary.

The finished top.


  1. This is very helpful, I hadn't thought of the FBA this way, and will be able to cut out a dress in a new manner.

  2. I am working on something similar, and I have two questions....the curve of the armhole changes quite a bit at the bottom, almost curving upwards at the side. Does this matter? And, by adding the extra length in the bodice, do you run the risk of the neckline becoming too low and how do you encorporate the extra at the side seam?

  3. The new armhole shape is what a full bust needs. The extra length is over the bust, not the neckline. There is no extra length at the sideseam. If you sew the dart, it's taken up in the dart. If you close the dart as I've shown and rotate it out at the sideseam, there is no extra length.

  4. Question regarding 3/4 inch added under arm and across the top bodice. It appears that the length added after the first alteration made the side seam longer by 3/4-inch. Did you sew a dart into the side seam?

  5. Lindy,
    It's been so long since I made this that I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing that I would've just eased the excess into the sideseam at bust level.


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