Designing a graded pattern for an “FBA” or Full Bust Adjustment – Warning: This is Technical – Part 3

Are you back for more information? Perfect. Let’s get started.

For the Rachel Tank, I didn’t want to account for any stretch. I’m kind of tired of my knit clothes being so tight that my body rolls show through. I like knits because there aren’t zippers and can be pulled on easily. I wanted a tank that I could wear to the gym or around the house and feel comfortable in it.

I could technically have removed the ease I accounted for in the hips and waist since I didn’t add any ease in the bust. I figured that the bust didn’t need any additional ease. I will likely do a more fitted tank around the waist and hips, but on another design.

The beauty about knowing grading and pattern making, I can make a minor change and I have a completely different fit.

Step 4: The Actual Grade 

I draft and grade using a software called PolyPattern. Shown below is the pattern I started with from the original Porcelynne collection. The patterns to the far right were the original patterns. The patterns on the left side are the patterns that were adjusted for the waist and hip measurements. The far left is without ease and the one to the right of that is with ease.

I graded the back according to the back grade chart. (Sorry, no specifics here – That is a different topic for a different day.) I took the front and added a dart for a better fitting A/B cup size. I also marked where the apex was so I knew how far the dart ended from the apex. For the A/B cup, I believe I had it end about 1 1/2″ away.

Grading the bust sizes proved to be complicated as usual. When is anything cut and dry in life?

I first graded the dart for the increase in bust size. The measurement across the chest increased by 1″ for half the front, so not only did I have to increase the width of the body at the bust by 1″, I also had to make the dart wider by 1″ to better shape the larger bust.

That was the easy part. The hard part was the side seam and armhole lengths. In the screenshot above, I included the measurements for the side seam.

The side seam was the part I tackled first. As you can see, it was virtually impossible to keep the waist measurement the same and have the pattern look presentable. I was able to keep the hip, but I had to increase the length a bit to keep the side seam measurements the same.

I determined the side seam of the back, so adjusted the side seam at the hem and underarm to make the measurement match. I had to do this by making tiny changes to the grade under the arm and at the hem. I used the define measurements tool on PolyPattern and plugged those into one of my handy spreadsheets.

Step 5: Fitting and Adjustments

What I originally forgot to do was to take measurements on the armhole for each size. When I first released the Rachel Tank, I didn’t realize that was an issue at all. One of my customers showed me her top and the armhole wasn’t right. Here she showed it to me. She didn’t think it was that big of a deal, but I did. I immediately went back to the software and re-evaluated the armhole size and shape.

I noticed from this first picture that this size needs to have the armhole lowered by about 1/2″, but she never mentioned that.

This picture made me realize I did not shape the armhole correctly. I have since gone back in and shaved off a good inch in the front armhole in this size. Fixing this one size, helped me determine the changes needed for all sizes.

I also realized the back armhole needed a little reshaping in the lower portion. The wrinkles tell me that. I shaped off about 1/2″ on the XL, 2X and 3X.

In the original Rachel, my armhole shape got smaller as the bust size went up, which should not happen at all. When I fixed the armhole grade, the first 3 cup sizes were about the same armhole measurement and the last 2 sizes increased. I had originally wanted them to all increase, but I was unable to get the second 2 sizes to increase in length with a shape that looked right. I figure it is what it is.

There you go. That’s my saga. There is a lot of technical stuff that goes into grading. I promise I’ll write a post on altering the bust size by hand for one bust size.

I think it is possible to infer how to do that with what I did here, but then again, I am all about the math and it is complicated.

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