Tag Archives: FBA

The Quest for a Cotton Blouse – Part 1

I am well aware that most off the shelf patterns will not fit me. In the past I have sewn primarily with jersey and stretch fabrics to allow greater ease of fitting over my curves. I fear lawn cottons and making successful Full Bust Adjustments and moving darts to get a cotton blouse to fit. However, I decided it was time to face my fears!


I chose the “Portrait Blouse” from Gerties New Book For Better Sewing to be my first project. I decided this was a good starting point as the construction is quite simple, with bust darts and waist tucks. The fit is also quite loose and flowing allowing some leeway in the fitting process.

I started with the size 14 pattern included with the book. This was the best fit for my waist measurement and high bust measurement. I followed the The Curvey Sewing Collective guide to a FBA. After some research and hunting around online I found this the clearest and easiest to understand guide.

I added a 1″ FBA in order to grade it up to an E/F cup size. This looked a reasonable size when the pattern paper was pinned to the dressmaking dummy. However when I put the calico toile on its easy to see that this hasn’t solved my problems at all!

P1100103 P1100105

As you can see from this picture on the dummy, the adjustment is actually too large! I think Gertie’s pattern allows more boob room than it gives itself credit for. The first step was to redo the FBA but at 1/2″ this time.

It can also be seen from the toile that the bust darts actually sit very low on my bust, not at the widest point. Therefore I need to rotate the dart and raise the point by 1″ so the bust apex of the pattern sits on my natural bust apex. I also raised the centre/end point of the waist tucks/darts by 1″ as well in order to accommodate the new high bust apex.


Here’s the new pattern piece with adjusted bust apex, rotated dart tip, 1/2″ FBA and adjusted waist tucks. I’m hoping this will actually result in a shirt that fits. I have never before noticed that the bust apex was part of the problem. I have just always struggled with repeatedly trying different sized FBAs and still not managing to make the patterns fit.