Monday, June 13, 2011

"Large" FBA on a T-shirt Pattern (aka Supersize It!)

Holy smokes.  Some days I feel like I have the biggest breasts on the planet.  I know I don't, but they are large.  Let's look at the numbers:

High bust (high chest):  36"
Full bust:  45"
Waist:  35"
Hips:  Plenty
Bra size:  US 36I, UK 36GG (All I ever wear are UK brands - they seem to understand how to fit the large breasted woman better.)

What the measurements don't reveal is that I have a narrow, bony back.  It is the only part of my body that lacks excess adipose tissue.  I like my back.  My upper torso is, in general, thin compared to the rest of me.  I have very large breasts on a bony torso.  The combo of large breasts on a narrow-ish torso is a tough one to fit.  Certainly RTW is a challenge.

First FBA can be seen in this post:  Since I just completed my first FBA, and thought it to be relatively successful, I am excited to do more.  I wore that top at the beach over my bathing suit, and it worked well.

Enter Kwik Sew 3338.   See pattern info here.  View C is a simple, short sleeved tee.  I am partial to simple cotton tee's for multiple reasons, including both the climate and the ease & comfort of wear.   After reading several sources, I chose a method of attack.  They all seem fairly similar.  Here are the front and back pieces basted together.  I put these out there in hopes of receiving opinions on how to make this better.

Picture time:

Sorry for the blur, but this picture shows the pull between the breasts.

This shot shows the slight gathering on the front at the bust to ease front to back.  It also shows a gaping at the front of the armsyce, what would be the upper outer quadrant if you were looking face on.  there are also some ripples from under the bust going to the side seam.

The back.  Ignore PJ pants.

Here on the left side, you can see a similar gaping at the front of the armsyce as on the right side. I am appearing quite bloated in these pics!  Shooting pics after a pasta dinner is a no-no.

Here is how I got there:

Pattern traced in size M with XL length.

I chose M according to my high bust - I'm right between a S & M.

Alteration lines in red ink.

I exaggerated the alteration lines using an 'app', and labeled the pieces A and B.  The upper section above the diagonal line stays where it is.

I slashed along the lines I drew in, and separated the pieces.  A was slid 2.5 in.  to the left, and B was moved down 2 in.

Taped in place.

Marked a new waist.

The result made the waist/hip area too big, so I drew  a  new line to narrow the waist and hip.
I thought I needed more room in the bust, so I tacked some on.

Cut the new side.

Ready to cut fabric.

My overall impression is that 1) I need a larger FBA, and 2) I took out too much in the waist/hip area.

The latter is an easy fix.  The FBA, on the other hand, is challenging me.  I tissue fitted this pattern, and felt that I needed 5 inches total at the bust, especially given that it is a knit.  That is why I did a 2.5" spread at the bust point.  I felt that I needed the extra length to cover the full breast - that is why I moved piece B down 2".

I read someplace on the web that when doing a 'large FBA', that more than one 'slash & spread' is required.  Would that help?  Or should I have angled the upper diagonal line differently - angled it into the armsyce rather than the shoulder?

Determined as I am to learn how to do the proper FBA for my shape, I am not discouraged in the slightest.  The knit, although beefy and having a nice hand, was an inexpensive find, and I have lots more.  

Any thoughts, advice, opinions are most welcome.  

Thanks for reading!



  1. I can't believe that no one has found this gem of a post yet. Thanks for the great tutorial, and the helpful photos.


  2. This is a great post. I'm going to add it to my list of FBA tutorials. I don't have one yet for a t-shirt. This way you're not adding the side bust dart- my nemesis. Thanks for posting this. And, seriously, I could totally be your body double. I have similar issues fitting patterns. Don't get me started on RTW.

  3. Hi, I have narrow shoulders and large bust too. Basically, I am a size 8 in the back and 12 or more in the front with a slender frame. One of the things that I do when I do a FBA is adjust the shoulder seam to stop the gaping. Take a dart where it gaps in the armsyce, then move that dart to the shoulder seam, where you just remove that much fabric. That doesn't sound very clear. Basically, you are changing the slant of the shoulder seam to remove the excess.
    I don't understand why you spread the pattern so much at the bottom, unless you have a pot belly (which you don't from the photos). That's a maternity alteration. I bet that is the same amount you removed from the side.
    I have a knit top that I want to make, so I'll try your slashing method with the changes I posted here.

    1. I so needed to know how to get rid of the armhole gape!!!! thank you

  4. Ahh, Theresa, the spread at the bottom is one of the issues I have with that style top. What I've since learned is that I need a Y type alteration, which allows me to get a larger FBA without adding all that room at he belly, although sometimes I still need to fiddle with that. The other thing I have learned is that a shoulder princess is both easier to fit my figure and more flattering to my figure. Although I've sewn for years, this was my second FBA ever! After the birth of my child 16+ years ago, I developed this crazy bustline that never went away. I've avoided sewing tops for myself until now. I decided it is time to learn!

    I do understand what you were explaining about rotating the dart. I'm familiar with that and you explained it quite well!

    Thanks for your input!

  5. I am curious about the UK brand bras. Which brands do you like and where can you get them?

    1. If you leave an email address, I be happy to email you a reply.

  6. Great tutorial! Knits and their stretch vary so much that I don't think one pattern will work for all fabrics. You may find that this pattern is perfect for one type and then whoopsie the next one has more give and it looks is such a challenge to get the combo correct.My measurements match yours so fitting in knits or wovens is always a chore and involves lots of paper pattern work.

    1. Thank you! Hmmmm, we should be fitting buddies. :-)))


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