Follow The FBA – What A Difference A Day Makes!

Oh, come on. This is a funny photograph!

So this was me about 30 minutes after getting home from work last night, still in my cycling gear. (Yes, that is a Tiny Pocket Tank I’m wearing – the make before the abomination many of you kindly fed back on. Revised make coming up!)

Much banter and laughter surrounded the taking of this snap, as my felt marker scurried to find nipplage. What are you doing, Karen? I’m marking my apex on the pattern piece, innit? Probably in a highly inaccurate and unprofessional manner – so shoot me. I’m a Home Sewist with limited means.

Thank you all so much for the incredibly generous comments on yesterday’s post. As several readers said – so much knowledge! Certainly more knowledge in the comments than in the blog post itself. It quickly became clear that a fresh toile was in order.

I traced and cut a new front bodice piece in size 4. I recommend using one of these wristband tape dispensers. It’s like a wrist pin cushion but for wrapping presents!

This time I didn’t mess about adding inches anywhere. Keep it clean and simple, I told myself. Don’t confuse matters. I marked my apex, as above and drew new slash lines that congregated at the apex point.

I was very impressed with comments yesterday that suggested I’d spread my pattern piece too much. Last time I’d spread the pieces by 1 inch. This time I spread the pieces half an inch, following the highly scientific formula of Why Not and Just Because. Below are the three pieces – the original pattern piece and my two toiles. Ignore the crazy dart marks on my new piece (they didn’t work). Just notice how much more subtle the adjustments are on round two.

So if those crazy dart marks didn’t work, what did I do? I measured a dart from the start points marked in green on Toile 2 above (remember I’d lowered my dart on the first rendition), and angled the dart upwards to stop short of my apex. I’d been really impressed by Molly‘s suggestion that this is more flattering on larger busts. This is the type of knowledge I need, people! I didn’t even realize you were ALLOWED to have slanting darts.

My other pattern pieces were cut to the same formula as last time – with an extra inch added to the depth. Guess what? They all lined up with the new front bodice piece? The only tiny snip I needed to make was cutting a small one inch off the bottom triangle of the side bodice pieces, where they met the bottom point of the front bodice piece. This must be because my slashing had already made my front bodice piece grow. I should never have added that extra inch last time!

A special thank you must go to my boyfriend who allowed me to cut up one of his old striped work shirts for the second toile. I was a bit distressed to hear that my last incarnation freaked Molly out and made her think of a surgical bandage!

Stripes really, really help because you can see exactly what’s going on. Look!

Oh! One other thing. I shaved scant millimetres off the side seams of the bodice front and bodice side seams where they met. You know how some of you suggested a concave seam line to take out the excess gathering beneath my bust? This was a teeny, tiny adjustment. I am learning that less is more with pattern adjustment!

So, what do we think? Personally, I think the fit is one million, squillion, trillion times better. If I had to tweak, I’d pinch out some excess just here:

Any other adjustments you’d make? You know how I rely on your feedback! Seriously, I couldn’t have even got to this stage without all your comments and encouragement. For a masterclass in how to give constructive feedback, I have to give special mention to Erika. She started with praise, gave constructive feedback, and ended with encouragement. That’s the way to do it! I also would like to especially thank Molly, whose comment brims with knowledge and information. But thank you, thank you all! Even if you felt you didn’t have much expertise to add, just a note of encouragement meant a lot.

Three housekeeping notes on toiles:

First of all, there was nothing particularly wrong with the back sections so I ripped them from Toile One and reused. I’m all about cutting down on the work.

Second, following Red Silvia’s suggestion, I sewed along the bottom seam line and sliced the toile open below that line. This is a tip I also learnt on Gertie’s Bombshell Course. It allows the excess fabric below the seam line to spread over your hips and stomach, which gives a much better idea of fit.

And I really recommend making the same mistake as me – sewing your zip in upside down. When you’re crawling in and out of toiles, it actually helps a lot to only have to reach to your waist instead of twisting your arm to zip from up down. It’s the small things, people, that make the difference.

Okay. Phew! Now, I need to climb into my clothes and get my behind to the office!

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34 Responses to Follow The FBA – What A Difference A Day Makes!

  1. Vicki Kate says:

    This looks fabulous! I’m starting to think that maybe I’m adding a little too much and could do with reducing it a tad if it looks as stunning as this!
    Could you sew a little more out of the seam line where you’re pinching and just see what it does? It might save you makeing a whole new toile.
    Wowsers, this dress is going to be amazing when it’s done – I love the stripes on you (and hurrah for boyfriend for sacrificing a shirt!)

  2. Lucy says:

    It looks so good! And look at your lovely figure now!!!

  3. punkmik says:

    wow! look at the difference! I already thought the previous one fitted a lot better but this shows that less is more (in the adjustment department) and it makes such a difference! :D yay! so happy this one worked out for you and the pic is hilarious! :D

  4. that really is a significant difference and doesn’t it look wonderful. You wouldn’t consider hanging onto that toile as a wearable item, would you? The stripes are special. :)

  5. Shams says:

    Yes, one squillion times better!

  6. Kitschy Coo says:

    Wow, what a difference a day makes indeed! This one looks fantastic.

  7. Melizza says:

    It’s looking great. And thanks for that extra tip on the seamline. I have Gertie’s tutorial but haven’t gone through it all. I should so do that.

  8. Marie says:

    This is looking super Karen, I reckon pinching out that tiny bit of excess will make the fit spot on! I’ve got to thank you for this series of posts too, because all the information that is coming back from knowledgeable sewists is truly priceless for amateurs like myself!

  9. Nicole says:

    This muslin is a much better fit! its looking really good. Thanks for sharing your trials and errors, im a self taught sewer and I rely so much on reading blogs to learn the tips and tricks. Its so much easier seeing the photos and how its done rather than reading out of a textbook :-)

  10. Sarah says:

    This makes me want to run to the sewing machine and start sewing :)

  11. Sam says:

    This looks really great. So much better than the first one, and even that didn’t look bad. I do agree with Molly about the first one looking rather like a surgical bandage!

    Great photo too! ;-) It really looks like it should be for a caption competition or something!

  12. Tania says:

    Wow, the new toile looks fantastic! I hope you consider using stripes in the final outfit – they really make the most of your figure and the design lines.

  13. K-Line says:

    So much better! I wonder if the dart goes a little to far towards the bust apex. With a fuller bust, the idea is to stop a bit before the apex – it tends to show the bust line to better effect and the darts recede, rather than popping out. Mind you, I’m only looking at a couple of photos and the stripes could be confusing me.

  14. LLADYBIRD says:

    Dude… that dress is going to be seriously flattering on you. Even the muslin looks good, and muslins are never very flattering!

  15. This looks even better! I was late to post a comment on yesterday’s piece but I am loving your documentation of this, not only because I identify with your FBA trepidation but also because there are so many helpful and constructive comments! It’s a testament to the quality of your blog that this kind of discussion can take place.
    This is making me feel like maybe I crack this FBA malarkey after all…

    • Yes, I think it’s worth noting that this oh-so-scary process took, um, two evenings after work – and those slots included a break for dinner and a crash on the sofa before bed. So, you know, baby steps can get you somewhere pretty quick! But I was helped A LOT by people leaving comments.

  16. Gwenan says:

    I only just realised from your link that the Tiny Pocket Tank and Wiksten tank are two different patterns… Here I was making my Wiksten tank thinking “this pocket isn’t very tiny…”

  17. Roobeedoo says:

    SO much better! You look about twenty dress sizes smaller in this version. I am always wary of sounding sizist and offending sewists who are larger than myself, but that last one made you look much bigger than I thought you were, which is what I was hinting at but was too scared to say. THIS one is really flattering and makes you look all curvy and boobilicious in a really good way. And now I will stop before I start to sound like I have problems (other than that I am flat-chested and jealous of ladies with something to put in their cups that isn’t herbal tea.)

  18. symondezyn says:

    FANTASTIC job, Karen!! It looks amazing!! :D One thing I’ve come to realize with all this pattern adjustment stuff is that it’s less about what books/people tell you to do and more about doing what WORKS – after all, our bodies are all different right? Looks like you got this one nailed!! Congratulations, I’m really looking forward to seeing your finished dress! ^___^

  19. Liz says:

    Va Va Voom!

    Those diagonal stripes at the side look amazing – must remember that if my baby will ever sleep and let me get to my sewing machine and make anything more productive than a big puddle of drool as my head hits the pillow.

  20. MrsC says:

    Wowzers, looking good. I still think you could scoop a little out of the top bodice line though, to counteract the convex curve look. I’m thrilled you’re thinking stripes at some point as with the funky lines of this bodice, it really is very effective!

  21. Phil says:

    Oh yes, looks fab!!

  22. Molly says:

    Hehe, sorry about freaking out, I have seen too many hospital horror movies, I have similar reactions to iron lungs, scapels, doctors in masks and rubber gloves and 1940s nurses… But I love the stripes! Definitely worthy of pursuing on another occasion.

    This looks so much better, it is really flattering over the bust and your waist looks tiny (especially with those stripes drawing the eye in). And your comment about the stripes helping reminded me, when I was studying toile work it was recommended to use gingham fabric because it has both vertical and horizontal lines to work with and is easier to spot off-grain sections and other issues. I think the Big 4 fitting shell patterns recommend gingham.

    I too wondered if you can loose that little pinch of fabric into your seam allowance for a quick fix? Can’t quite tell from the photos – a side seam shot would help – how awesome would it be to have 3D 360 degree photography on our blogs for times like this?! Taking that smidgen of excess out looks like it might pull the darts back away from the bust curve just enough to get them to look smoother? Otherwise try shortening them? You see on the original pattern, the bigger the size, the shorter the dart… same for bust volume, and even within the same cup size the radius of the bust varies so your dart length will be individual to you. One other thought, did you press them over a tailors ham?

    I’m glad I could be of some help (makes a change from teaching glazy-eyed students!) but there’s so much scope in pattern work for experimenting, thinking “what-if…”, guidelines are only starting points for finding what suits you best, the rest really is up to you and how much time you want to spend “fiddling”. And since no two bodies are the same, neither are two person’s alterations, so what works for one may not for another. For future pattern-play (not suitable for this project), have you tried French Darts? They’d be great for your figure as they accommodate a full bust and remove excess fabric from a small waist at the same time and can be combined with bust darts too if necessary. Anyway, looking forward to seeing this completed article and more stripes in future! Have fun :)

  23. Meredith says:

    I am so impressed with your corrections! That bodice will look amazing on you. Well done!

  24. Deb Koobakii says:

    Hi Karen,
    You possess sooooo many talents, I’m so in awe of the way you throw your heart and soul into learning new skills. I look foward to reading your incredibly well written, informative and humerous blog entries every single morning, and you never fail to put a smile on my face and make me laugh, what a great start to the day. That second toile is certainly a great fit on you now, your rib cage and waist looks teeny tiny. Everyone’s comments and guidence is really invaluable isn’t it, I, for one, am learning so much from this community.

  25. wow – amazing difference! i was going to suggest shortening the darts slightly – i think if they go too close to the bust apex they can make you look a bit pointy. but it looks amazing – i love this pattern in stripes!

  26. Janice says:

    Well done, it looks waaaay better!

  27. Carolyn says:

    This makes a huge difference, you look gorgeous in this! So gorgeous I think you should add on a striped skirt and make it into a real dress. The stripes look really lovely in this configuration; they accentuate your tiny waist to perfection. :)

  28. I’ve been away so am a late comer to the Karen FBA party, but have been reading your posts avidly since I got back. I’ve also been putting off a FBA for years, so your posts and their accompanying uber-helpful comments are INVALUABLE! As with bound buttonholes and several other techniques, you really help take the fear out of what seem like very scary practises, thank you!
    I’m in agreement with all the other commenters who said that this second toile is WAY more flattering than the first. I think the heavy calico didn’t help but you really do look way tinier (is that a word?) in the striped toile. And like Lladybird, I think the stripes look awesome, definitely worth thinking about for a dress, if not this one. Go girl, your Hazel is going to look amazing! x

  29. Laura says:

    The toile looks great–with the improved fit and those stripes–so, so flattering! What a tiny waist you have!

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