My first FBA

Sew… Yay to my first ever FBA!

I have always had problems with RTW dresses and tops fitting me properly and when I started sewing an FBA looked like the scariest thing ever. Deep down I have always known that this is what I should be doing, however, I tend to just grade between sizes and the finished garment is always wearable. 

With #MMMay2017 just a few weeks away it got me thinking. I want to be a “proper” sewer and not just make ok garments. Don’t get me wrong I am happy with what I make and they all get worn but I know there is room for improvement.

On my #2017makenine is the Christine Haynes Emery dress. I’ve seen so many colourful versions and love the style of the dress so knew I had to add it to my me made wardrobe. I’ve been asked to review some fabric for Minerva Crafts so knew this was the perfect opportunity to try it out. 

My make nine

The Emery has a fitted bodice and I was determine to get the fit just right. After a good read through the sew along on the website I was ready to make a toile. 

Going by my measurements I cut a straight 16 and made no adjustments. I made up the bodice and sleeves. And no surprises it was an awful fit. I had the dreaded mono-boob, the armholes were pulling across the bust and the shoulders wouldn’t stay on my shoulders. I did slightly panic at this point and was overwhelmed by all the adjustments I was thinking I would need to do. I was even thinking that I should just give up now and stick to dresses I’ve made previously that fit ok. No, I wasn’t going to do that. I am going to be a good dress maker.

In my panic I sent Christine an email asking what to do about the fit. I received a lovely reply and yes an FBA is what i needed to. 

First FBA attempt here we go!

Haley Glenn’s instructions are brilliant. I wish I had come across these when I first started dress making. Taking the relevant measurements I needed to cut a size 12 and do an adjustment of 2.5 inch (5 inch in total). The step by step instructions are so easy to following and include photographs showing you exactly what you need to do. 

It looks like body armour!

I made up my second toile and everything seemed to be going so well until I tried it on. The fit across the shoulders and upper chest and waist were great. The darts however were baggy and gave me a really weird shape. They just weren’t sitting nicely at all. Another slight panic as I had no idea what to do. Standing in from the of the mirror for about 20 minutes I decided that I would shorten the waist dart by 1 inch as it seemed to be too long. I also decided to lengthen the bust dart hoping that it would get rid of some of the bagginess. The FBA instructions get you to shorten the bust dart by 1.5 inch so I lengthened it back to its original position. 

Top – FBA attempt 1, Bottom – Darts altered

Second fitting and it was so much better. I now think that the bust dart could be lowered slightly. I’ve had to lower it on other dresses I’ve made so it was not big surprise that I might need to do this. Instead of making another toile I’ve decided that I’ll lower the dart on the lining of the Emery dress and see how it fits. If it fits then perfect and if not it’s on the lining so a bit of unpicking and altering wont show. 

I’m not going to waste the second toile I’ve made and am going to make it into a wearable version as I have enough fabric left to finish it. 

Wearable toile

So for anyone out there thinking about whether or not the effort of a FBA is worth it… it definitely is! It was a lot easier to do that I expected and I would now happily do one on all the dresses I make. For me, improving as a sewer is all about the fitting details so I definitely won’t be cutting corners by grading patterns around the bust. Plus if you make a wearable toile then you have two dresses out of one FBA pattern you alter! 

You can find the instructions I used here

Are you luckily enough to cut one size and it fit perfectly or do you have to spend time altering patterns?

4 thoughts on “My first FBA

  1. Well done so glad it’s worked for you. Most patterns I need to adjust as I’m a petite frame but have broad shoulders and very bottom heavy. Most patterns are drafted first based on 5ft 6in b cup size 10 and graded up or down, which is so not me or the majority of women. Even with being a b cup I have a broader back than I did in my younger days so a FBA might be on the cards for me too with very fitted tops. There will be no stopping you now that you have mastered it. Xx


    1. It was no way as scary as I thought it would be and a definite must for all my future Makes. I don’t think I can make it to sewing club on Thursday as I can’t swap my shift :0( hopefully I will see you at the next one. Your trousers look amazing!xx

      Liked by 1 person

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