The brilliant thing about Simple Sew patterns is that they really are simple to sew! I’m looking to add some plain tops to my wardrobe, so the Juliette Blouse was just what I needed, and I knew it would be a quick and easy make. There are only three pattern pieces- the body (front and back are the same), the facing and the waist ties.
Since I know I’m a plus size, I did a tissue fit to see what I would need to adjust on the body pattern piece. Tissue fitting, in this case, just meant holding the pattern piece close against my body to see where it was going to fit, and where I might need to make changes. The neckline was fine and the sleeves were fine. All I needed to alter was the width around the bust. So far, so normal – I’m big in the bust and I am used to the notion of adding a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA).
I would say that the XL size on this pattern is pretty generous, and would work out fine without adjustment for anyone with a full bust measurement of around 125-134cms (49-53”). Mine is 138cms and I added a total of 6cm to my pattern to give me the amount of wearing ease that I thought this blouse would need, and I’m happy that it all came out right.
The point of an FBA is to add extra fabric across the width of the front piece, to account for the larger bust, and also to add extra fabric in the length of the front, because a larger bust projects outwards more. In this case, I decided to keep the front and back pieces identical, so the adjustment would be done on the back as well as the front. Technically it means the back falls a bit lower at the hem, but I don’t mind that at all.
Most FBAs on bodice blocks start with drawing adjustment lines from the armscye to the bust point, but in the Juliette, there’s no armscye, so I had to work out how to make the same sort of adjustment.
My starting point was that I needed to keep the neckline and sleeve shaping as is, because that fits fine. So all the adjustment had to work from below the sleeve. I did a bit of working out beforehand.
You can see that by rotating the underarm section out to the left, that adds the extra width, and because it’s swinging downwards as well, it’s adding the extra length. That requires moving the centre down a bit to meet that hem level.
That was the theory, here’s how it worked in practice…
First, I needed to work out where my bust point was on the body pattern piece. Again, I held the pattern against my body, with the neckline and the centre front in the right position, and drew a cross on the pattern piece where my bust is at its fullest. The two main adjustment lines went down from the bust point (parallel to the centre fold line) and then upwards from the bust point to the top of the underarm curve. I cut up from the bottom of the pattern, to the bust point and then out towards the underarm, making sure I left a couple of millimetres of paper still attached, to act as a hinge. I also cut the bottom section of the centre off so that I could adjust the length.
I put tissue paper underneath the pattern piece, and taped the top section to it, so that it wouldn’t move about. I then swung the underarm section out to the left, so that its top right hand corner (where the bust point was) was 1½cms further away from the static left hand section. This was going to give me 6cms of additional width altogether (1½ on each side of the pattern piece, front and back). Technically, I could have made the front different from the back, but I decided keeping it simple was the order of the day! Finally, the centre front needed to come down to meet the new lower bottom line.
Having got all the positioning right, I taped all the pieces I’d moved onto the tissue paper.
The result of this adjustment was that the left hand side of the underarm section had swung out, and was now much more widely angled than before. While swing tops/trapeze tops may be all the rage, that’s not really what I wanted, and I felt that I could reduce that angle, so long as I maintained the extra width for the bust. I cut a line straight up to just below the bust point, underarm curve, and rotated the left side in towards the centre, until I got an angle I liked, and taped that down.
I was then able to redraw the lower hemline, to take all the changes into account.
While I’ve gone about this in quite a formal way the basic outcome is as shown in the right hand image below!
And if you don’t particularly need extra length, just a bigger size, then you can do a much more straightforward alteration, as shown in the left hand image. Cut down vertically and insert a quarter of however much extra width you need. So if you need a total increase of 8cm, then insert 2cm of extra width. Once the 2cms is multiplied by the two sides of the pattern, and the front and back, it will come to 8cm altogether.
Having completed the width adjustment, I also wanted to add more length to the pattern, because I hate it when tops come untucked. There is no specific lengthen/shorten line on the pattern, so I worked out where I thought it should go, about two thirds of the way down the body, and I drew a horizontal adjustment line, cut it and slid the lower half down by 3cm.
Having taped it down, I needed to redraw the left hand side, so that it was a smooth line, rather than having a kink in it. And finally I moved the two notches (on the left hand side of the piece) down, so that they would sit on my natural waistline. I kept the two notches the same distance apart.
With all those pattern adjustments done, it was on with the sewing… I used a silky black peachskin fabric from my stash, which is quite heavy and with a good drape, and I think it’s come out beautifully.
This top is living right up to my expectations, as an easy wardrobe builder. I’m starting to think ahead to Me Made May and one of the things I always notice during MMM is that I could do with more hand-made tops. So I’m getting my preparation in, and I’ve just cut out another Juliette in a navy slinky fabric. I’m sure there will be more along the way!
Béa blogs at Béa’s Sewing Adventures.