How to Make a Small Bust Adjustment

Small Bust Adjustment How-To

This week on the vlog I show you how to make a small bust adjustment to your sewing patterns. The basic principles are the same for a full bust adjustment so it is useful for anyone with those issues too.



Today I'm going to show you how to make a small bust adjustment to your sewing patterns.

You might need to do this if you make a toile and notice it is gaping at the front or if you hold the pattern tissue against your body with the side seams in the correct position and the centre front comes too far across your body.

It's a very straightforward adjustment to make, for a small bust adjustment you overlap the pattern pieces to reduce the size. For a full bust adjustment you fill the gaps with tissue.

The tools I'm going to be using are my Olfa cutting mat, my Complete Guide to Fitting by Palmer Pletsch, felt tip pens, scotch tape and my quilters ruler.

Everything I mentioned is available on our site.

Small Bust Adjustment Tutorial

Drawing the Pattern Adjustment Lines

Here I have my bodice pattern piece. I've marked the bust apex, armhole seam allowance and I'm using the lines on my cutting board to make sure everything is true and lined up.

Draw a line from the hem up to the bust point/apex and continue across to 1/3 of the way up the armhole.

Then draw a line straight through the centre of the dart from the bust apex to the side seam.

The third line can be drawn anywhere beneath the bust point, I'm using the lengthen and shorten lines.

Cutting the Pattern Adjustment Lines

I'm now going to cut line 1 from the hem to the bust apex and across to the armhole seam allowance. Then I'm going to cut from the armhole to the seam allowance leaving a little hinge so I can pivot the pattern tissue.

Next I'm cutting line 2 all the way to the bust apex, but not through it. I'm going to leave a hinge.

I want to reduce the bust by 1/2" so I'm going to overlap line 1 by 1/2". The 1/2" gap should be between the line where it is perpendicular to the hem, not diagonally across the bust apex. You will find that the bust dart has also overlapped.

Tape in place and notice the armhole hasn't changed shape and the bust dart has also been reduced.

Redrawing the Dart Legs and Lining Up the Hem

The bust point has moved across towards the side seam. I need to mark a new dart point 1" to 1 and 1/2" from the bust apex to avoid the Madonna look!

Next I'm going to redraw the dart legs by lifting up the tissue to see the original dart leg marking and joining it up with the dart point. Then I'm drawing the dart leg on the other side.

Now we have a new dart and the bodice has reduced in fullness.

Finally we need to cut along line three and true up the hem by lifting this section of the pattern until it matches the hem then tape in place.

You may also need to grade out at the waist and you can match it up with the skirt piece if skirt is right size at the waist.

For a full bust adjustment instead of overlapping you spread the pattern pieces and fill gaps with tissue.


I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and found it useful and it has given you the confidence to have a go. If you're worried about ruining your original pattern pieces trace it off and play around with the copy instead.

One of the best bits of advice I can give anyone trying to improve the fit of their patterns is to give yourself the time for trial and error and learning.

Have fun sewing!


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