Tackling full bust adjustment and fitting on a princess seam can be overwhelming!
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be. In my last video, I took the time to actually show you, start to finish, how I made the Gertie B6453 dress fit my measurements. And I really mean start to finish. I go from doing a full bust adjustment and fitting- to feeling confident to cutting into my fashion fabric. I’ll be 100% transparent that the changes I made won’t apply to everyone– but this is how I approach everything to fit me, and hopefully it helps you, too!
I was hesitant to film my video this way, but after seeing some of the struggles people were facing in the Gertie Sew Along Facebook Group, I figured I might as well just document the whole thing so it wouldn’t be as overwhelming.
Before you get started…
- Get your tools ready:
- Watch my relevant the Youtube videos
Once you’ve got all the above taken care of, with your measurements in hand and maybe a good cup of coffee, you’re ready to go.
Find your Pattern Size + Muslin #1
Picking your pattern size can be tricky, but the following steps are how I approach it personally:
- Identify your size, based on the envelope FIRST (“Envelope Size”)
- Using your Envelope Size, compare it to the finished garment measurements on the pattern itself
- Identify the ease in the garment based on the above measurements
- Decide to either go up or down from the Envelope Size.
Breaking it down into the above steps can really help make picking a size easier and approachable.
First, I decide what size I am on the envelope (within an inch or two.) I’m always between sizes, but I can generally peg myself within a couple sizes. REMEMBER: This is just a starting point- it may not be the size actually sewn.
Also note, when picking bust size, use the high bust measurement (circumference taken around your body from under your armpits, over your chest) NOT full bust (circumference taken over your bust point.) This is especially important if you’re a petite like I am- you want to have the smaller frame/shoulders as a base.
For the remaining points listed above, I open up the pattern and compare the size picked on the envelope versus the finished garment size on the tissue. As Gertie pointed out in her blog, there’s about a 2.5″ ease in the dress based on Butterick’s sizing.
Since I wanted my dress to be on the snug side (snug, but not bursting at the seams)- I had to go down TWO SIZES.
Once the pattern is traced out (hope you watched the video tutorial on this!)– I sew the first (half) muslin. I’m definitely aware a lot of people prefer using tissue fitting, but to be honest, I hate doing it that way. I usually have to do so many changes that fiddling with a flimsy piece of paper over a full bust is just a wreck for me, so fabric it is.
Please remember, this muslin is probably not going to fit right right out of the envelope and that’s ok. That’s actually what we want to see: WHY its not fitting is what we’re trying to figure out.
First Changes + Muslin #2
I’m a huge fan of the old-school Fit for Real People book and that’s how I approach each step. Gertie actually references it in her blog post, so definitely check it out if you haven’t already!
In my case, I went ahead and shortened the bodice first, then did a sway back adjustment. My video shows you how to do each of those steps after testing out muslin #1, at minute 1:24.
Then once you transfer your changes to the paper, you’re off to sew the next muslin (muslin #2 at this point.)
Full Bust Adjustment and Fitting + Muslin #3
This is where the magic happens! The time stamp for this ENTIRE process is at minute 3:13 in my video.
Please note: If your bust point is lower or higher than the one printed on the pattern piece, you will need to adjust that portion first. See Gertie’s blog about this!
The measurements I take are simple. To determine how much I needed to adjust:
- I essentially ripped apart the princess seam stitch line in Muslin #2 and centered the center front line at my center front (where its actually supposed to sit)
- Took a measuring tape and measured TWICE:
- Side Front: On the side front muslin piece, measure from the stitch line to the bust point.
- Center Front: On the center front muslin piece, measure from the stitch line to the bust point.
From there, I show you step by step how to use those measurements and do your changes on the patter piece, please refer to my video.
Once you’ve done all the necessary changes, you’re ready to sew Muslin #3! When sewing Muslin #3, though, I would recommend doing the entire bodice, as if you were making the real garment, since you’re getting down to the nitty gritty. Also put in a zipper! You want to know how its going to start to realistically fit.
Final Adjustments + Muslin #4
At this point, my muslin was looking pretty nice. It was still too big, but taking it in at all the seams (and tapering the princess seams) was enough of a change for the muslin to fit me as I wanted. Also, I added some extra height to the low center back. I go over this final fitting at the 17 min mark in my video.
For me, since I’m a stickler for making sure I do my due diligence and “pre-production,” I like to do one last muslin (in this case, muslin #4) to verify that I’m 100% satisfied and ready to go. Of course, its not necessary, but after doing major full bust adjustment and fitting, I want to make sure I’m absolutely confident on how I want this garment to look and feel.
Tackling this many changes and going into the deep end of pattern drafting can be super intimidating and it doesn’t have to be! Doing standard full bust adjustment and fitting can already be an overwhelming experience to just wrap your head around and there are so many factors involved in a great fit. Luckily, Butterick 6453 is a relatively simple pattern to get your feet wet!
My next video in this series will cover general sewing, which Gertie has already gone into on her blog, but I’ll just be catching up. You’ll get to see View A of this dress nearly done, but behind the scenes I’ll be finding a lovely black satin to make View B for a fun Little Black Dress.