Wednesday, December 4, 2013

FBA Shenanigans

After coming to the realization that I really don't like collared long sleeve shirts,  I decided to give up my quest for the perfect pattern for one. My mind is now free to wander. And wander it has!

What I really wanted was a simple well fitting woven pullover top that could be worn with or without a jacket or sweater.  I started with this pattern: McCalls 6564. I really liked that it has different sleeve options. 
I also wanted to explore and experiment with my FBA. I've had questions in my mind I hoped to answer about the FBA and whether the way I had learned and always done them was the best way and how much difference doing them differently could make.

1. I started with what I think of as the "textbook" way of doing the FBA. 

a. The original pattern
b. Start by drawing these 3 lines: a line parallel to the CF up from the hem to the BP, a line from the BP to notch in the sleeve, and from the BP through the center of dart.  
c. Slash the pattern open from the bottom edge to the BP continuing to, but not through, the sleeve notch, leaving a bit of tissue fro a hinge. Also cut from the middle of the dart legs to, but not through, the BP, again leaving a bit of tissue for a hinge.  Now slide the side front over and down. This will automatically increase the width between the dart legs making the dart deeper and also increase the length at the center front. True the hem at the center front. 
d. Now we get to the part I don't like about this method: if your BP differs from the pattern (and if you have a large bust your BP is generally lower as well) you now need to lower the BP and redraw the dart legs. (in red), but what happens is that it flattens the dart. You can see that the center of the dart is now almost horizontal. Not good, IMO.

2. The second version involved the same steps, but in a different order:

b. First, I move the BP and the whole dart into the right position
c. Then do the FBA. You can see that the center of the dart is diagonal now. Way more flattering! But still not perfect. The front of the blouse sticks out and  I certainly don't want people to think I'm going to be a mother in my 50s!

3a. The next version was a refinement of number 2

a. I added a princess dart under the bust, 
b. Using the principal of dart rotation, I closed the princess dart, thereby shifting the excess into the bust dart.
I now have a simple well fitting top. 

3b. Conclusion

What I learned from this exercise is this:

a. To first move the BP to the correct level
b. Then do the FBA. And to pivot the lower edge of the side front toward the CF ( this substitutes for extra step with the princess dart). 

The Final Pattern:

The original pattern is in black and my adjustments are in red.

I'm planning to get a lot of use out of this pattern this winter and next summer. I think its going to make a great blank canvas.


  1. That was a super helpful post...I absolutely guffawed at the thought of being pregnant in your(my) 50's!

  2. Can you imagine!! Of course, if you already have kids, they can babysit.
    I'm glad the post was helpful for you, going through this exercise certainly helped me! I had wanted to do it a long time.

  3. Thank you for drawing such clear diagrams. I will be tackling an FBA soon and will refer to your post!

    1. You're welcome. I'm glad to help. Check back when you can, I'll be doing a post about the faux FBA I use for knits soon.

  4. Fantastic! This is very helpful. Thank-you!