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Full & Small Bust Adjustment (FBA) for Stretch Patterns

3 min read

Perfect Fit: Mastering Bust Adjustments for Your Stretch Sewing Patterns

Finding the right fit in sewing can sometimes feel like a game of Tetris, where every piece must fit perfectly to complete the puzzle. One common challenge is adjusting for bust size, particularly when the pattern size doesn't match your measurements. Let's dive into how you can achieve a flawless fit with bust adjustments.

Understanding the Need for a Bust Adjustment

When selecting a size for sewing patterns, you might notice two primary methods: choosing based on your full bust or your upper bust measurement. Each has its benefits:

  • Full Bust Measurement: This method ensures the garment fits well across the bust but might not align well at the neckline, shoulders, and armholes.

  • Upper Bust Measurement: Choosing based on your upper bust usually guarantees a better fit around the neck, shoulders, and armholes but may feel tight around the bust.

Given these considerations, we generally advise to select your size based on the upper bust measurement and adjust the bust accordingly if needed.

What is a Bust Adjustment?

A bust adjustment involves modifying the sewing pattern to create additional space in the bust area while maintaining the intended fit everywhere else. This ensures your garment looks tailored and comfortable, without compromising on style.

Types of Bust Adjustments

  1. Full Bust Adjustment (FBA): Ideal when your bust size is larger than your upper bust size. This adjustment helps in expanding the bust area to prevent the garment from pulling across the chest.

  2. Small Bust Adjustment (SBA): Necessary when your bust size is smaller than the rest of your measurements. It reduces the bust area for a snug fit without altering the fit at the neck, shoulders, and arms.

When to Adjust

Each Pattern Emporium sewing pattern includes specific guidance on the "Size & Fit" page about when a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) may be necessary. The need for an adjustment largely depends on the garment's intended fit—be it fitted, relaxed, or oversized.

  • One Size Difference: If the difference between your bust and upper bust sizes measures only one size, most of our patterns, particularly those in stretch fabrics, typically do not require a bust adjustment.

  • Two or More Sizes Difference: For garments with a fitted or semi-fitted silhouette, we strongly recommend making a bust adjustment. This ensures both comfort and a flattering fit, helping you achieve the best possible result from your sewing project.

Applying the Adjustment to Different Patterns

The bust adjustment technique described below (video & downloadable written instructions) are versatile and can be applied to our stretch sewing patterns:

These adjustments are designed for stretch fabrics with small variances. For significant adjustments or non-stretch fabrics, you might need a different approach.

Learn More

  • Downloadable Guide: Get step-by-step written instructions here.
  • Video Tutorial: Watch our detailed video below on how to perform these adjustments using the Game On One Shoulder Top pattern by Pattern Emporium. You can also watch on our YouTube channel here

The pattern shown in this video is the Game On One Shoulder Top sewing pattern by Pattern Emporium. 


By mastering these adjustments, you'll be able to tailor your PE stretch patterns to fit perfectly, enhancing both the garment's appearance and your comfort. Whether you're new to sewing or a seasoned pro, understanding how to adjust for bust size will significantly upgrade your sewing game.

Happy sewing!

Kate x