You can find a TON of tutorials on how to do a standard FBA (full bust adjustment). But for some reason, guidance on FBAs with dolmans (no armscye seam) are harder to come by.
This is where I fly in with my superhero cape on! You will thank me when you see how easy it really is.
Now, I find that the best way to size for women is to start with the Upper Chest/Bust measurement. From there you can usually grade out to the Full Bust measurement if the grading only goes across 1-2 sizes. The fit may be good, but it can be better by taking some time and doing an FBA.
Is there a rule for when you should do an FBA and when you shouldn’t? Not really. But my advice is to do it instead of grading between sizes whenever possible. Here’s how.
**Test file pictured**
By nature, an Dolman doesn’t have an armscye. For the purposes of this FBA you will need to create one. Eye ball it as shown. Then, cut off your Dolman sleeve at that line. (FYI, our Tamara design has a tank top option so although it’s a Dolman, it also has an armsyce line in it already).
Now, you need to guess as to where the bust point is. This is approximately where it should be in relation to the underarm but every body type is different. I suggest you try on your first muslin to get an accurate idea of where yours is.
This is a slash and spread method. From the Apex/Bust Point. Draw a vertical line down to the hem. Then, draw another line to about the middle of the armscye. Draw a third line to about 1.5” down on the side seam.
Now, cut along those lines leaving the circled pivot points.
Now take your actual bust measurement minus the pattern measurement for your size and divide that by 2. For example, my actual bust is 38.25”. The size I’m sewing is 37.25″. So 38.25-37.25 = 1”. I will adjust a 1/2” for my FBA.
Create a perfectly vertical 1/2” gap in the bodice from the apex down using the pivot point my finger is on. Also, slash a horizontal line in the left part of the pattern piece (parallel to the hem) and spread that 1/2” as well.
Tape in place. (I tape it to my mat and will slide a paper underneath in in a few steps)
Now, pivot the right side of the piece so the side seams meet again. This will be your new pivot point. Tape in place.
Now with your new pivot point, swing that piece back to vertical by overlapping your old pivot point.
The vertical bodice spread should still be 1/2”.
Now slide paper underneath your work and re tape it all into place. Draw your new hem line as shown. You may decide to draw a straight hem from the side seam to the fold line. You can do that too. I prefer the curved method because it gives me a little more length in the front.
To reattach your sleeve, align the bottom of the armscye.
The top of the sleeve won’t connect completely. That’s ok. Lay it down as shown and slide a blank paper underneath and tape in place. Redraw your shoulder seam from the sleeve edge to the neckline as shown.
Cut excess paper.
Annnnnnnnd you did it! You’re ready to cut out your fabric with your Dolman FBA!
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