Hello kittens! I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this… but a week or two ago I bought a lovely (funky? kindergarten child-like?) piece of green 21-wale corduroy with cherries printed all over it. I plan to make it into another hybrid Jenny. So of course I need a shirt to go with this skirt, which, lets face it, will probably be a fall 2011 garment for me, knowing my sewing speed. Nevertheless, I utilized my normal unproductive shopping technique of envisioning what fabric I wanted for the shirt, then driving to every fabric store in the metro area to find it. Turns out, red gingham silk charmeuse does not exist. But! I did find some mystery rayon at our local scary fabric warehouse of suitable red checkiness to be worn with a cherry-cord skirt! Wow!

So. The pattern. I really, REALLY want to get makin’ my Pendrell which has been nicely cut up and waiting for the wax paper treatment for a few weeks! And as much as I love the pattern, AND think it would be adorable in mystery-rayon-with-red-checks, I wanted a shirt with a little more structure. Enter Simplicity 2601, which has been stewing, cut but unloved, in its envelope since July. I actually cut this pattern while I was on my honeymoon. Yes, chickadees, I brought patterns to cut while I was on my honeymoon. That’s how I roll. In my defense, Mr. Bug ran a MARATHON during our honeymoon! Here’s a line drawing of the version I’m doing. I’m telling you, I have never seen a midriff band that I didn’t love.


So this post is all about my pattern adjustments, super-generous wearing ease and other little tidbits. First, to acquaint you with the pattern, here are most of the pieces laid out – I didn’t put the underlap (for under the loops and buttons on the front) or the loop placement piece on the table for the pic, but I think I got everything else…


I started out my ‘adjustments’ while cutting the pattern. I cut a size 18 though the neck and shoulders, then veered out to a size 22 on the side seam of the bodice pieces – the midriff and the bottom of the shirt were all originally cut on the size 22 lines – here’s a photo of my ‘veering’ on the bodice pieces –

Figuring the adjustment amounts

So once everything was cut, I did a little math. I had cut the shoulder/arm/neckline at a size 18 because the size 18 bust measurement matches my high bust, as many of you know. I needed to add 5 inches to the bust area to get to my actual bust measurement. After looking at the envelope, I decided to add another 5 inches to the waist, and six inches to the hip area. I calculated these measurements by just adding to the sizing measurements on the envelope – I wasn’t sure how much ease the pattern had and this is one of those annoying patterns that only lists the finished bust measurement, which wasn’t helpful at all!

Full bust adjustment – gathered bodice

For anyone new to the game, there’s a general order to your adjustments. When adjusting a blouse pattern such as this wacky animal, you start with the bust, then the waist then the hips. This particular pattern is nice, because it has a midriff piece (easy to size!) and the bust shaping is created with gathers – so getting the measurements perfect isn’t as key, because you can just adjust the gathers. Or rather, I can adjust the gathers. Unless anyone wants to sew a shirt for me?

I snapped photos along the way in hopes of being informative. I was doing the FBA from memory (even though Fit For Real People was sitting RIGHT THERE on the cutting table!) I’ll go through this fast, for a more detailed FBA tutorial (although for princess seams, not a gathered bust) check out my Lady Grey tutorial.

First, I made the cuts shown below – Cut 1 is from the bottom of the bodice piece, up to the bust apex (the fullest part of your bust, basically.) Cut 2 is from the bust apex to 1/3 of the way up the armscye. Stop about 5/8” from the edge of the pattern piece, then cut from the edge in  to where you stopped cutting, in order to leave a small paper hinge and not lose pattern pieces if a brisk breeze starts blowing for some reason in your cutting area. Cut 3 is from the side in to the bust apex, again leaving a little paper hinge (pretty easy to see in the photo!)

Next step is to start securing the pattern. Most books and other smart people will tell you to use pins to secure the pattern piece to a piece of cardboard while you’re working. I don’t do that. I use wax paper for my adjustments and it’s easy to peel scotch tape from wax paper, so I usually will just put a big piece of wax paper under the area I’m working on and use tape instead of pins to keep everything in place – sometimes I tape the wax paper to my work surface to keep that in place.

For this step, secure the area I’ve circled below in pink – it’s on the side where the center front is.

Now for the actual FBA part! I had determined that I needed to add 5” total to the shirt to make it fit. That means I need to add 2.5” to the front bodice piece – on this shirt, there are two pieces that make up the front bodice. Sometimes there’s four (like with a princess seamed shirt) so I’d divide the total needed by 4 instead of 2.

To add the width, slide the left side of the pattern over until the two vertical straight edges (highlighted in pink below) are spread apart by the amount needed for your FBA (for me, 2.5”) – see how I used the grid on the cutting mat to help line things up? Once you get everything all lined up, go ahead and tape where I’ve circled below. Once you make this change, the bottom of the bodice that’s on the side where the center front seam is (the right side in the photo below) will be much shorter than the other side. That’s because you need extra length in your bodice to get over your bodacious bosoms. Make a horizontal cut (outlined in pink below) and slide the bottom piece down until it lines up with the the other side. Tape onto the tissue and wonder for a while what’s going to happen with that giant wedge on the other side of the pattern.

Closing that wedge is actually quite easy. At least, it is for what I’m doing. You just swing it shut and tape it. You may wonder why the cut was even made in the first place, I did. If we had just made the cut from the bottom to the bust apex to the arm, and swung the pieces apart 2.5 inches, we’d just be adding width, no length. And the length is a very important part of an FBA – nobody likes a weenie seam right across the bodacious bosoms, right?

Final note before moving on – that whole giant amount of wax paper at the bottom of the bodice piece is in the area where there are gathers. This pattern was easy to work with as most of the bottom edge of the bodice piece gets gathered while sewing everything together. If you’re working on something with just a small area of gather, you might have to be more creative in the placement of the cuts you make as it’s nice to bury all that extra width on the bottom of the bodice in something like a gather or dart – for that lovely wasp wait look, right?

Adding width to the waist /midriff piece

FBA done, it’s time to add width to the midriff piece – the waist point on this pattern is actually right below the midriff piece, but I went ahead and added my five inches to the midriff piece. The adjustment was pretty easy – I slashed the pattern piece and spread 2.5 inches and taped up. I had to redraft the curve a bit. I really need to buy a french curve, I always eyeball this stuff!

Here’s the photo – the center front is on the right side. I’ve shown in pink where I sliced off a little point of the original pattern. I sort of chose the position of the adjustment arbitrarily – I thought it made the curve look nice.

Adding width to the hips

Final step is to add width to the hips. I always want MORE room around the hips, and my calculations had said to add 6 inches to the bottom part of the shirt. I started out by adding 5 inches by slashing and spreading the bottom front piece in the same place as the midriff piece. I lined up the pieces using the notch marks. The pieces don’t line up exactly because there is gathering that happens to the bottom piece.


The Pivot Method

I still needed another inch, but really wanted to give myself more wiggle room. I decided to use the Pivot and Slide technique. Well, really, just the pivot technique. I remember reading about that and not knowing what it was for the longest time, so I snapped a bunch of photos while I was doing it!

First, I outlined the side seam (ok, I just marked the corners!) of the bottom shirt piece on a piece of wax paper. All of this is shown in purple marker on the wax paper. I slid the pattern piece to the right so you could clearly see the markings!

Next, make a nice vertical adjustment line to the left of the pattern piece. I decided to add 1 inch to the bottom hem of this piece, so my line is 1 inch over.

Next, slide the bottom of your pattern piece until the very corner meets up with the vertical line you just drew. Keep the top corner stationery while sliding over the bottom corner. This is the ‘pivot’ part and you might find it helpful to stick a pin in the upper corner to hold the pattern piece in place, yet allow it to move freely. The ruler is just doubling as a paperweight in the photo.

Now trace the outer edge of the pattern piece! Must trace this time around – marking corners won’t cut it! transfer any notches, etc.

Now return the pattern piece to it’s original position (line it up with the first marks you made) and continue the hemline in a natural arc. Tape everything down and cut that baby out! That’s it! That’s all there is to pivoting (note, again, most guides would have had a cardboard backing and a nice pin involved, I just skipped that part!)

OK, you’re not quite done. Since we made the change to the side seam of the front, we need to also change the side seam of the back pattern piece. I usually do that by making a wax paper sandwich. Adjusted piece on the bottom, sheet of wax paper, then unadjusted pattern piece on top, perfectly lined up with the adjusted piece on the bottom. Trace the new sideseam of the adjusted piece to the wax paper (you’ll be able to see it through the wax paper!), tape the pattern piece to the wax paper, make sure everything is lined up. I tried to take a photo, but it’s sort of hard, what with wax paper being transparent and all…

Other adjustments

Just in case any of ya’ll are actually making THIS shirt, and want to use THIS guide, I snapped a photo of the other pattern pieces that should be looked at – the underlap and the loop/button placement template. Since we substantially altered the length of the bodice, neither of these pattern pieces will be perfect. I will probably just eyeball/freehand to fix. I also will line up the paper collar piece after doing an FBA to make sure that none of the seams that touch the collar were altered – they weren’t in this case.

How’s it look?

Adjustments made, I whipped up a nice, one-armed tablecloth and safety pin version. Tres chic, as they say. Here’s the result (and also, the most flattering photo…)

Main complaints: midriff band is too loose, the arm is too tight and the top of the midriff seam (again) is hitting me just where I don’t want it – here’s a closeup so you can see what I’m talking about – I’ve marked in pink the way I ‘d LIKE the midriff piece to fit!

Here’s a few more views…

Where! Lots of pictures! Up tomorrow – the second round of adjustments and another muslin. Also, in local news, I finished my Negroni today! We didn’t have time for a photo shoot, though! I also ticked one more item off my to-do list – a rick-rack bedecked, mini peplum having, thermal floral knit tank top (cut last summer, sewn today…)

Good night, porci-penguin friends…. {I’m feeling spikey and avian today}

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