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Adjustments & altering the Sophia dress pattern - Gaping bust adjustments

So you're sewing your Sophia dress sample and you notice your bust is gaping, how is that possible when you followed the correct bust size measurement for your body? Well, it's all to do with proportions. This pattern was originally drafted for a size 10 body with a 34B-32C cup size. This is not to say that it won't fit someone with a smaller bust or larger bust well, but depending on your proportions, a gaping bust is the most common fit issue for this pattern.

Why do I have a gaping bust?!

There are a few different reasons why this fit issue may occur. I've listed them below:

1. The V shape of the neckline is too long and straight and needs adjusting (most common and an easy alteration to do!) 

2. The distance between your nape (bottom of your neck) and underbust (where a bra band would sit) is shorter than the pattern calls for.

3. Narrower shoulders. This is something that doesn't necessarily create the gape in the bust, but it does add to the fit issues and can make your v-neckline sit too far apart on the body and you may feel as though the neckline is too exposed.

First of all, you will need to determine which fit issue is the right one for you and then adjust accordingly. (I prefer to do this without the sleeves inserted into the sample as I just find it easier to manage and easier to see). To check for adjustments you should always have your sample sewn up exactly how you would make the final garment, so in this case you should have your zipper inserted, you can ignore the sleeves but trying to adjust without your zipper inserted can just get complicated! Now, put your dress on and stand in front of a mirror.

You can see here, this model has all 3 issues going on with the fit. She has narrower set shoulders so the neckline is too wide, the bust is gaping along the V shape of the neckline and the distance between the nape and underbust is too long.

What to look for and determining the fit issue:

1. Pinch the shoulders of your dress, as if you were taking away some fabric from the shoulder seams, evenly through the back and front shoulder. Pin this in place then rest your arms so that you are in your natural state. Does this adjustment help your gaping bust or are you still gaping? 

If this works for you and is only a very small amount that needs taking out of the shoulders (around 1-2cm total) then you can make this adjustment. If it's not fixing the issue, move onto step 2. If it helps a little, but not totally, pin 1cm evenly from the front and back shoulder (2cm total) then also move onto step 2.

2. Now, pinch your fabric along the v neckline at the front, as if you are making a dart in the neckline. You may only need a small amount here but you equally may need a good chunk taking out. Again, rest your arms and stand naturally. Does pinching along the v-neckline take away the gape? (This is the most likely adjustment needed for most people)!

3. Lastly, narrower shoulders. This one i've decided to discuss last, as it's not necessarily a bust gape issue but it can create a fit issue of it's own and require some adjustments to give that nice flat and shaped neckline we're looking for. 

When wearing your dress, do you feel like your shoulders are sitting too far towards the shoulder and not close enough to the neck? In the images above of the model in the dress, you can see that she has a narrower chest/shoulder region and so the neckline is sitting too wide on the model. We will need to add some extra onto the shoulders here for this to sit correctly on the body.

How to adjust the pattern for these fit issues:

First we'll take a look at adjusting for the first 2 adjustments explained in the paragraph above.

Alteration 1:

he first of the alterations is the distance between the neck and the underbust. 

In the image above, the underbust line was sitting too far below the bust and looked like it was sagging, not cupping the bust as it should.

You can also see on the left side of the bodice (as you're looking at the photo) that the shoulder seam is not sitting flat against the shoulder. This is due to different shoulder slopes and can be easily adjusted with this alteration too. 

Pinch the shoulder seam in order to flatten out the top of the v neckline and allow the shoulder seam to sit flat against the shoulder, making sure to take the same amount out of the back as the front. Pin this in place as shown on the right hand side of the bodice in the photo above. 

Make a note of how much you have taken out, then apply this to the pattern as shown below. (Remember to do this to the front and back pieces, as well as the back neck facing.)

In my case I have removed 1cm from the neckline side and 1.5cm from the armhole side.

Here I have marked 1cm on the neckline side of the shoulder and 1.5cm on the armhole side of the shoulder. Then drawn a line to join the two. I will then cut along this line and remove the excess above the line. 

Now I have done this on the front, I also need to do it on the back bodice and the back neck facing.

Now, you would normally also need to alter the sleeve here too and remove whatever you have removed from the shoulder, from the sleeve. However, as this dress is intended to have puff sleeves, we can just leave the sleeves and add a few more gathers when sewing to compensate.

Alteration 2:

We now need to look at how to take that gape out of the neckline. To do this we will be essentially creating a dart, then applying this to the pattern. We don't want an actual dart there though so we will just adapt the pattern to create this. 

Start by pinching your bust along the neckline, a few centimetres up from your underbust seam. Pin in place and check how much you have taken out of the neckline. In my example below, I am going to take out 2cm total.

 Start by measuring the side seam of your upper bodice piece, we are going to draw a line horizontally across the bodice piece and we want our line to start half way up the side seam. Starting at your half way point, draw a line horizontally across the pattern piece, parallel to the grain line as shown in the photo below.

I am going to be taking 2cm out of my neckline edge, so I have measured 1cm along the neckline each side of the line I have drawn. If you were taking 4cm out for example, you would draw your markers 2cm either side of the line.

Cut long your horizontal line, starting from the neckline edge. When you get to the side seam, leave a very tiny amount of the paper uncut. We want the paper to stay attached ever so slightly, so that we can pivot the pattern without affecting the side seam.

Once your piece is cut, pivot the two sides together, matching up the marks you made, as shown below.

Tape your pieces together. We have now affected the neckline edge of your piece but not affected the side seam. We need to neaten everything up a little now, so we will start with the grain line. Start at one point of your original grainline and drawn a straight line to the other point. This line will now be your new grainline.

 The neckline edge is also now a little distorted. Place another piece of paper underneath your bodice neckline and tape down onto the paper. Then draw a new line from the top point of your neckline to the bottom edge of your neckline. This will be your new neckline edge.

Retrace your entire pattern piece and then resample. You should now have eradicated the gape from your neckline! 

Alteration 3:

If you find that your neckline is too wide at the neck but sitting at the correct point of the shoulders, this is a very easy alteration to do. You just need to extend your shoulder at the neckline edge by your desired amount, then draw a straight line from this point down to the bottom point of your neckline. (I'll draw it on the previous photo using a red line).

Just remember, whatever you add here you will also need to add to your back neckline. You will then need to add this to your back neck facing too. 

That's it! The neckline should now sit flat along the chest.

Let me know if you have any more requests for fit alterations on this dress!