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Theatrical Thursday: Shirley Adams and Adjusting the Bust Dart

Generally speaking, women’s sewing patterns (and clothing) are designed for someone with a perfect B cup.  Now that is great if you are a perfect B cup.  But some of us are “curvier” and some of us are understanding the force of gravity.  So, for the rest of us that don’t have a perky perfect size B cup, we will need to make adjustments to a pattern’s bust dart in order to make a bodice fit correctly.

I remember when I was intimidated by the idea of having to make bust dart adjustments.  What is this slash and spread thing and where do I cut?

First, make a “working pattern” by tracing the original pattern.  You want to have your original pattern intact in case you need to start from the beginning again.  This will also give you confidence when you start marking up and cutting into the pattern to make your adjustments.  It may feel tedious but doing this step has saved me on more than one occasion.

Before you do anything to the pattern, you need to have a good handle on where your bust apex really is…not where you wish it were but where it is (perhaps having to do this step will encourage you to get that new set of bras that you’ve been putting off…). Wearing a snug, but not constricting, knit top and the bra you will wear with the garment, measure from the point where the shoulder seam intersects with the curve of your neck down to your bust apex (nipple).  Make sure that your tape measure is perpendicular to the floor when measuring.  If you angle it, the measurement will be off.  At the same point on the pattern, measure down from the shoulder and mark were your bust apex is located.

Measure how far the pattern’s dart point is from the pattern’s bust apex.  It can be anywhere from 3/4″ to 1 1/2″, depending upon the design of the pattern.  Make a mark equal to that distance next to your apex.  That is your new dart point.  If you wish, you can draw a line from the dart point to the end of the dart legs.  Also, draw a line from the dart point, through the apex and the center front.

You are now ready to make some of the adjustments that Shirley Adams demonstrates in this video…

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  1. Hi! Julie-Ann, I listen to your podcast and did not know where to post this. I have really enjoyed your podcasts and have learned great tips like not zipping up an invisible zipper after you have ironed it. Now I understand why ironing never worked for me before. This was invaluable.

    I have a question. After the interview with Dawn and also the 2nd interview with Nancy et al, you played some piano music at the end of these podcasts. I was wondering if you give me some info about the artist.

    My father played the piano and he played in almost exactly the same style. I felt like I was listening to him. Unfortunately, we never recorded him playing–as he played for pleasure and just played whenever.

    Thanks again for a great podcast. I look forward to more about your adventures in fashion class. They are a real treat. Please keep us posted.

    Thanks, Sherrill Allen

  2. Hi Sherril,
    Thank you for your kind words!

    Unfortunately, I can’t tell you about the artist because I don’t know who it is (unless I specify a name of an artist during the podcast–like during the holidays). I use a program called “Garage Band” to record the podcasts and it comes with about 50 or so pre-recorded songs/snippets of songs. I’m sorry I can’t help you track down the musician. How wonderful it would be to find music to match your father’s style. My father sang in the church choir and they recorded a couple of albums. I could hear his rich bass on a couple of songs and I played my little cassette of the album until the tape was all stretched out and it sounded like they were all singing underwater. But, oh!, how comforting it was while it lasted!

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