Hey everyone! Celine here in-house patternmaker at Closet Core Patterns. We had so much fun developing our Elodie Wrap Dress, and talked a lot during development about possible fit adjustments people would need to make to get this pattern fitting perfectly (or at least that’s the goal!) This pattern is very versatile and adjustable thanks to its dolman sleeve and loosely fitting bodice, and most changes are pretty simple to make. Let’s dig in!
Full bust adjustments and Small Bust Adjustments
I’ve been looking into an easier way to do a full bust adjustment and small bust adjustment without having to rotate a bunch of pieces, trying to save you the trouble of figuring out the angles of Elodie’s release pleats. Fret not, it’s not complicated. After all, this is a dolman sleeve so we don’t have to worry about the armhole like you would with a regular bodice. After a few tries I made a rule of thumb I’ll share with you (sure you can invent those! Sewing is part rules and part boldness!!)
You should make an FBA if your bodice is pulling up too much, center front is not aligning correctly, or the wrap is gaping and not laying close to your bust. You should make an SBA if the bodice feels too baggy and loose, the release pleats are creating volume where you don’t need it, and the bodice is too baggy to stay closed. For a full bust adjustment, you are basically adding more fabric to the bust area, in width and length. You will also increase the size of the release pleats. The opposite is true for an small bust adjustment. Our Elodie is quite roomy already as a result of the dolman sleeve, especially with the long sleeve. So that is something to have in mind when doing a muslin, to see where you need to add or remove the extra fabric.
Remember: our 0-20 range is drafted for a B cup, and our 14-30 range is drafted for a D cup. Cup sizes in this case have nothing to do with bra sizes – instead they reflect the difference in inches between full and high bust. A 2″ difference is a B cup; a 4″ difference is a D cup (and a 1″ difference would be an A cup, 3″ a C up, etc etc). If your cup size is bigger or smaller than the cup size for the range you’re using, you will have to do a SBA or FBA for best results. With small and large busts, we recommend choosing a size based on your high bust rather than your full bust and then doing the adjustments below; this ensures the pattern fits well with through the upper bust and shoulders.
Celine’s Rule of thumb:
Here is the rule to make your FBA for Elodie:
- If you go up 1 cup size you’ll add 1” to the total front, so 1/2” to the front pattern piece in width and about 3/8” in length, which is about 80% of the amount added in width
- For 2 cup sizes you’ll need to add 2″ to the total front, so 1” in width and 3/4” in length
- For 3 cup sizes you’ll need to add 3″ to the total front, so 1.5” in width and 1 1/8” in length.
- And on and on – remember for each inch you add in width, you’ll need to add about 80% of that amount in length
It works the same for the SBA, going down cup sizes. For each inch you remove, you’ll need to remove about 80% in length, although you may find you don’t need to remove quite as much length with an SBA.
How to Adjust the Bust
- Draw a straight line through marked bust point, perpendicular to grainline
- Draw two lines in between the release pleats, parallel to the pleat lines, ending at the line you drew in the first step.
- Cut along the marked lines and slash and spread, adding the amount needed in width and height,
- Redraw your underarm seam on the new front, raising it up, so that the sleeve opening remains the same and matches the back.
- The amount added in width needs to be absorbed at the waist in the pleats to keep the waist the same measurement (or else it won’t match the skirt). Here’s how to do that: divide the amount added by 3, and then add that amount to each pleat. As drafted there is about 7/8″ between each pleat, and the middle one is centered on the apex, so keep that in mind as a reference when you redraw your pleats, unless you want to also adjust where the pleats are falling.
It’s the same process for a small bust adjustment, although you will be removing length and width instead of adding: here’s what that would look like using the above steps.
Alternative Method for small FBA and SBA
There is another trick I would like to talk about for this pattern, which would require even fewer adjustments. If your FBA or SBA is quite minimal (I’m talking up or down 1 cup size max here), instead of doing the above, you can grade between sizes to add or remove extra fabric just where you need it. You couldn’t necessarily do this with a regular bodice, but the dolman sleeves make it possible. The way we stacked the pleats on the nested pattern makes it really helpful to make this adjustment.
As an example, let’s say someone is a 34″ high bust and 37″ full bust. They should make a size 6 with a C cup adjustment, with 1″ added in total to the bust. This 1″ difference is built into the size chart – the size 8 is one inch more in the bust. An easy way to add that width is to simply grade between sizes. Keep the size 6 back bodice and use the size 8 front bodice instead to get that added width. You’ll want to grade the size 8 front bodice to the size 6 at the waist so it keeps the correct waist measurement. A bit of length will also be present in the size 8 bodice, so you’ll have to trim the front shoulder seam so it matches the 6 back. Easy peasy!
Technically for this pattern, there shouldn’t be much of a swayback adjustment to make because the dress is broken into bodice and skirt and the waistband will naturally sit where your waist is smaller. That said, we did draft this to be a bit longer in the back for a slight blousing effect. If you would like less blousing, you can just remove a bit of length starting at center back, grading to nothing at waist.
If the overall back is too wide, reduce the amount of fabric in the back by reducing the width of the pleats, and redrawing the side seam or curving in the CB seam as necesssary.
ADDING COVERAGE TO WRAP BODICE
We tried to draft the front so it hugs the body, but you may find you want more coverage. If that’s the case, the solution here is to adjust the scoop of the neckline. To do that, add a bit of length to the shoulder seam so that the neckline is closer to the neck. As a result, it will close the neckline opening more and will wrap higher on the body. Don’t forget to adjust the front and back neckline facings!
ADDING COVERAGE TO WRAP SKIRT
We had a few questions about how much the wrap skirt wrapped around the body, concerned it would be too flash-y. We think the coverage is just right, but if you want to add more for modesty or just to be on the safe side, you can do so. The secret is to create a right side and left side for the front bodice, waistband and skirt; one will overlap, one will underlap. In the instructions, we have the right side crossing over the left, so in this case the left side is the underlap and will need to be extended.
To add coverage, add the width you want to the left skirt (enough that it meets at the side seam. Add the same amount to the left waistband and left bodice. You’ll need to redraw the bodice neckline so it meets at your new location. The construction will be the same.
We tried to draft Elodie to be non-gaping, although of course everybody is different and you may need to make adjustments. If the bust fits well everywhere else but you’re still getting gaping, it is likely because the length of your bust area is a bit shorter then the pattern was drafted for. To fit, you’ll need to remove length from the neckline to make it more fitted.
Start by pinching the excess of fabric at the gaping point. Measure the amount and then remove that amount at the shoulder seam.
The opposite can be true too. If your neckline is too tight and the dress is lifting at center front, you can add some room by lowering the neckline at the waist.
I hope you find this helpful and good luck with your fitting adventures!