If you have this fitting issue, then this is the post for you. Or perhaps you sew for someone who needs this alteration? Or maybe you’ve never realised until now that there’s a name for that niggly tight area of the bodice midway between your bra band and your waist?
If you have flared lower ribs then basically your lower ribs stick out more than the average person’s. This has its upsides:
- if you become pregnant, you’re less likely to be uncomfortable, or to go up a bra band size
- your strapless bras won’t fall down
- there’s always plenty of room for your lungs!
But there are downsides too:
- your ribs can look bony even when you’re a healthy weight
- boned or corseted RTW dresses (think bridalwear) can be seriously uncomfortable
- it can be tricky getting the lower bodice of your handmade garments to fit, even once you’ve mastered bust adjustments.
It’s something that caused me problems when I made the halterneck 50s-style sundress in the picture above, and I ran into this adjustment again this week while sewing the camisole from the Fifi lounge set by Tilly and the Buttons. It’s oddly tight on me below the bust, even though the design is bias cut and curves outwards at that point. Yet there’s plenty of room at the waist…
If you’re altering a standard bodice with bust and waist darts, here’s what you’ll need to do.
- First, make any length alterations you need, and any alterations to the bodice at or above the bust point.
- Try on your toile, and mark on it where your rib cage ends. Compare this with the position of the top of the waist darts.
- Re-draw the waist darts, finishing 3/4″ below the bottom of your rib cage. Pin or baste in the new darts, and try on again to check the fit.
- If your revised darts now look weirdly short and fat, you might need to divide each one into two, or you could take a slightly larger seam allowance at the bottom of the side seam (on the front piece only)
For a princess-seamed bodice, rejoice. You can add extra room for your ribs at just the right point (on the front princess seams only) without tweaking anything else.
For a bodice that’s flat-fronted with no darts or adjustable points, such as a knit top, you could grade out to a larger size below the bust. Otherwise, you’ll probably need to go up a size, at least on the front, and then downsize other areas like the waist, back or bust to fit you. And if you’re already grading between sizes on your bodice, look carefully at where you begin and end the grading – just shifting this might help you get around the problem altogether.
If you’d rather get around the whole problem, then the following patterns use pleats or gathers rather than darts to create shaping between bust and waist. That means you don’t have to worry too much about how far up the shaping extends. Others are available of course, but I’ve actually shelled out real money for these three. Interestingly, they’re all from the Big 4.
1. My favourite wedding guest dress pattern Vogue 8446 – (my first version is still in my alterations pile before it’s fit to blog about). I love this style on anyone whose figure isn’t straight up and down. The bodice is pleated with no front darts. Sadly now out of print (noooo!), but you could create something similar with Threadcount 1613 if you can get past the hideous satin version on the envelope.
2. Lisette for Butterick B6168. Another classy offering from Liesl Gibson. This one’s slightly high-waisted, so it may not end up being for me, but I love the way the bodice pleats are joined to the waistband detail.
3. New Look 6000 – a real blogosphere TNT from . Views A, B and C all use an asymmetrical gather on one side of the waist rather than traditional darts. Again, this is such a great detail to have in a dress (go with a solid rather than a print to make it stand out), with the added bonus that you don’t have to faff around wondering if your front darts are too pointy, too long or too wide.
Have you got an obscure fitting issue that you struggle with? And did everything suddenly fall into place once you cracked it?