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An Orla Dress FBA

An Orla Dress FBA

When I heard about the "sewalong" that Allie from, Rachel from, and Maddie from were hosting, I decided I should absolutely participate. For the month of July, these lovely ladies are encouraging all sewists to make up a version of the Orla Dress which is a free pattern by Sarah of French Navy. You can read the official blog post here and find out all the details and how to win some gorgeous prizes! Today, I wanted to share a tutorial on how to do an FBA on the Orla dress. I will forewarn you, this is a picture/text heavy post. 

Now I don't know about you, but as a busty gal I almost always have to make some form of FBA adjustment to sewing patterns in order for them to fit comfortably. What is an FBA adjustment? It is also known as a Full Bust Adjustment. Most pattern companies, either the Big 4 (i.e. McCalls, Butterick, Vogue, and Simplicity) or indie designers draft their patterns for B-cups. This is considered the industry standard, which for us ladies with C+ cup sizes is rather annoying. There are a few indie pattern designers, like Colette Patterns, Jennifer Lauren, and Cashmerette, that have started drafting their patterns for larger cup sizes and some of the bigger companies have patterns with multiple cup sizes. While this is extremely convenient, it isn't the norm. 

"But my measurements are identical to those on the pattern! Doesn't that mean it should fit fine?" Unfortunately, no. If you choose a size based upon your actual full bust measurement, it will end up being baggy and too big nearly everywhere except across your bust. Instead, you should pick your size using your high bust measurement. Let me give you an example:

My full bust measurement is 39 inches and my high bust measurement is 36 inches. Looking at the measurements for the Orla dress, I decided to cut out a size large since that was the closest to my high bust measurement. I subtracted my high bust from my full bust in order to find out how much of a FBA I needed. The difference is 3 inches. Next, I have to divide that number by 2 since the front bodice piece is only half of the total front. Which means I need to add 1 1/2 inches to the bust in order for my dress to fit. If any of this is unclear, just let me know!

Once you have chosen a size based off of your high bust measurement, you are ready to do an FBA!

You will only need a couple different supplies:

Orla Dress Front Bodice Pattern Piece

Pen, Pencil, or Marker



Line 1 (Orange):

Draw a line that goes through the center of the dart and the bust point all the way to the shoulder. In the previous picture I forgot to add in the bust point, but usually it would be between 1/2-1 inch above the tip of the dart. The bust point is supposed to mark where the fullest part of your bust is on the pattern. Yours may be higher or lower than the original dart, but we will adjust for that later. As you can see in the remaining pictures, I have added in a dot and corrected my original line.

Line 2 (Blue):

Draw a line from the bust point to about 1/3 of the way down the armhole.

Line 3 (Green):

Draw a line straight across from the bust point to the side seam.

Line 4 (Red):

Draw a line straight across from the side seam to the center front. I didn't draw mine all the way across, but it makes it much easier to line everything up later. And that is all the lines you have to draw for now!

Next, cut up Line 1 to the bust point, and then continue cutting along Line 2 until you reach the armhole. Don't cut all the way through the edge! Leave a little piece of paper to act as a hinge. If you accidentally do cut all the way through, just reinforce that edge with a bit of tape

Cut along Line 3 from the side seam to the bust point, again leaving a small hinge of paper.

Tape the left side down so that it doesn't move all over the place. Spread your cuts apart and slip a piece of scrap paper behind them. Remember that number we found way back in the beginning? Now is the time to use it! My measurement was 1 1/2 inches, so that's how much I added here.

Once you have the correct measurement, add a piece of tape to the right side above Line 4. Cut completely across Line 4. Line it back up with the left side, and then tape it down too. We are almost done! But what about that extra random bit that we added at the side seam?

We're coming to that. First we have to do a little fixing up on our original dart.

Now is when we figure out where our bust point should be. I know that the fullest part of my bust is about 12 inches down from my shoulder. Usually the tip of your darts should be about an inch below the fullest part of your bust. That way you can avoid the awkward pointy dart problem. So measure from your shoulder to the fullest part of your bust, then transfer that measurement to your pattern. Your bust dot should be in the middle of the bit of paper we added.

We then need to redraw our dart legs. Take your ruler and line it up with the original dart leg and your new bust point. Draw a line, and then repeat for the other side. 

We need to trim off the excess paper at the bottom of the dart. Fold the dart so that the two legs meet. Cut along the edge of the pattern piece. When you unfold it, you should have a lovely new dart!

There are two ways you can eliminate that extra bit of room we added at the side seam. Either you can turn it into another small dart by repeating the steps outlined above:

Or you can combine the two darts back into one waist dart. I would recommend the first option if you are adding a bigger FBA, but if you are only adding 1/2 inch or so, then you might prefer the second option. I decided to combine my darts, but it probably would have worked better to leave them separate. 

To combine the darts, start by cutting through the middle of the waist dart and the "side dart." Leave a little hinge between them.

Slide the "side dart" closed, and the waist dart should expand.

Add a piece of scrap paper, tape everything down, and redraw the dart legs.

Orla Dress FBA 24.jpg

As you can see, my dart looks a little fat and short, but it should be exactly what I need. All that is left is to trim off any excess paper and you have a brand new pattern piece! As long as you haven't accidentally added any length to the side seam, you shouldn't need to do any adjustments to the back bodice.

After an adjustment like this, it is usually best to make up a quick muslin just to be sure you don't need to make any further changes. If your muslin ends up fitting perfectly, then, depending on what sort of fabric you used, you might be able to use it as the bodice lining for the final dress!

I am pretty excited to try sewing up an Orla dress! Have you made one yet? Did you enjoy making/wearing it?

Until next time!


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