Enlightenment + The Full Bust Adjustment

on Jan 19, 2009 in Sewing | 25 comments

I spent 8 hours on Saturday at the Pacific Fabrics in Bremerton learning the Palmer/Pletsch method of fitting, taught by the very talented Nancy Seifert. 2 other lovely ladies and I spent the day walking around in our bras learning how to fit commercial patterns to our unique shapes. Part 2 is another 8 hours next Saturday.

To say I had a light bulb moment would be an understatement. All the pattern failures I’ve experienced over the last 10 years! OMG. I never even had a chance without the Full Bust Adjustment.

The class uses the book Fit for Real People and McCall’s Learn to Fit Palmer/Pletsch pattern 2718. The instructor has bodices made up in each size and within the size there’s one for each bust adjustment provided with the pattern. The student tries these on to determine their base pattern size.

All commercial patterns are a B cup. The class takes the student through fitting a basic bodice adjusting from the B cup to their cup size plus all the other funky things a 46 year old body has like high round back, forward shoulder, high shoulder (from carrying those babies around!), sagging breasts (they refer to this as lowering the bust darts), and, my favorite, more waist width.

A pattern adjustment technique exists for each type of alteration. I’ve made several attempts over the years to use these books and teach myself at home how to do the alteration. Looking back that was just plain crazy. A trained instructor can identify exactly the alterations you need and move straight to Go by teaching you how to do each one. I’ve always gotten bogged down in the past, feeling overwhelmed by all the different alterations possible and not being able to identify what I needed.

But let’s go back to that full bust adjustment. You can see on the tissue here that I added a full 1 3/4″ to the width of the bodice and deepened the bust darts accordingly. It fits perfectly!

What was I doing before:

1. I was buying size 14 or 16 patterns to match my bust measurement. My base pattern size should be a 12. The larger sized patterns created all kinds of baggy fitting issues and still didn’t fit through the chest (because the patterns were still a B cup!)

2. I was trying to give my chest space by extending the side seam allowances. Again, All I ended up with was a baggy shirt and it still didn’t fit my bust.

For next Saturday’s class we bring in a commercial pattern that we’ll tissue fit in class. I started practicing last night. Repeating the technique while it’s fresh in my mind is the way I learn best. I’m so darned excited I can hardly stand it!

1/23/09: I was asked about finding a class in your area. I’ve updated the reference to Palmer/Pletsch above with a link to their website. They provide a list of certified instructors here. Many of these instructors will teach a class at local sewing shops or provide custom classes for groups. I first heard about them from other members in my American Sewing Guild group. Definitely contact the person in your area for more info.

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