The Collins Top Sew-along : Full bust adjustment - removing the bust dart


In yesterday's post, I showed you how to do a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) on the Collins Top pattern to start off the Collins Top Sew-along. The process is a little different to a usual FBA because of the panel line in the front piece, as well as the lack of dart or bust shaping in the pattern. 

In yesterday's tutorial I showed you how to add a dart to the centre front panel of the Collins Top to get some extra width across the bust, if your bust measurement is larger than the B cup In the Folds patterns are drafted for. 

In today's post, I want to show you how to remove that dart, if you would prefer to keep the pattern dartless.

If you have done a little pattern making (or pattern adjusting) yourself though, you will know it is not as easy as just removing a dart. You cannot actually remove a dart, but you can relocate it or redistribute it. So basically, what we are going to do in the case of the Collins Top, is that we are going to relocate the dart to the hemline and then use it as extra fullness in the hem. I have done a tutorial on this process in the past, so if you would like to take a look you can have a look at this tutorial.

I know that the Collins already has quite a bit of ease in the hem (it is a trapeze shaped silhouette after all), so I will also show you how to remove the extra fullness later in the tutorial too. Please bear with me, it is quite a long tutorial, but the process isn't complicated. Just take it one step at a time.

Getting started


Step 1 :

Use the first Full Bust Adjustment tutorial to add a dart to your Collins Top. You will only need to follow steps 1 - 14 of the tutorial to get to where you need to be to follow this tutorial.  

Remove the dart


Step 2 :

To remove the dart, cut in from the side seam, along the lower dart arm towards the apex point. Stop cutting when you are 1-2mm from the apex point.


Step 3 :

Cut up from the hem of the top, along line 2, towards the apex point. Again, stop cutting 1-2mm from the apex point, to create a small hinge. 

Close the dart


Step 4 : 

A : Now, swing the side section of the pattern on the little hinge you created, so that the lower dart arm moves towards the upper dart arm. 

B : Continue swinging that section of the pattern around, until the lower dart arm meets the upper dart arm. Once the dart arms are aligned, tape in place. 


Step 5 :

As you will know, if you have made pattern adjustments before, there is really no such thing as removing a dart. By closing the dart in the side seam, you are opening up a "dart" at the hemline. You will see that indicated in the illustration above. By closing the dart in the side seam, we have made a large dart in the hem. 

Tape some pattern paper behind the working pattern to fill the gap created in the hemline.

You can choose to leave the top as is - now with the trapeze shape more pronounced or you can choose to remove this extra width from the side seam. If you have chosen to keep the extra fullness, continue working your way through the tutorial. 

If you would like to remove the extra fullness from the side seam, skip the following steps and jump to step 14.

Re-draw the panel line


Step 6 :

Measure the opening at the hemline (making sure you take the measurement on the stitch line (1cm / 3/8" up form the edge of the pattern) and take note of this measurement.


Step 7 :

We will distribute the added fullness to either side of the panel line, so you will need to mark a point on the hemline at the centre of the opening. 


Step 8 :

Draw a straight line from the point you just marked on the hemline, up to the point where the original panel line intersects the armhole. There you have your new panel line!

Mark balance points

Balance points are pointers on your pattern that help you put pieces together correctly, as well as help you when you are sewing a very long, or curved seam.

If you have sewn one of my patterns before, you will know I love a balance point! I really love using them as they basically give you a little reinforcement each time that you are assembling your garment correctly. I loved when one of my pattern testers once said "The notches are like little ticks you get all the way through the process to let you know that you're on the right track." That's exactly what I am going for with all the notches!


On the Collins Top, you will notice that there are two single notches on the centre front panel line, so that you know which side of the SIDE FRONT PANEL should be sewn to the CENTRE FRONT PANEL. During the process of the adjustments, we lost those two notches. So now it's time to put them back.


Step 9 :

Mark two notches on the panel line. It doesn't really matter where you put them, as these two pieces will be sewn together.

Trace your new pattern pieces


Step 10 :

Take a piece of pattern paper and trace your new CENTRE FRONT PANEL piece by tracing around the original neckline, and then down the new panel line. Trace along the centre front line and hemline. 

Add seam allowance + notches


Step 11 : 

Add seam allowance to your new pattern piece. You can trace the seam allowance from the neckline, armhole and hem and then add 1.5cm (5/8") to the panel line. For more detail on adding seam allowance to a pattern, check out this tutorial

Transfer the notches onto your new pattern piece, from the working pattern. 


Step 12 :

Finalise the pattern piece by adding cutting instructions and grainline.

For more detail about adding cutting instructions to your pattern, take a look at this tutorial.

Side front panel


Step 13 :

Repeat process for the SIDE FRONT PANEL. You will notice that you will need to redraw the side seam with a straight line. Draw the line from the top of the original seam line to the bottom of the original seam line. 

True the seam allowances on your new pattern pieces, and check the SIDE FRONT PANEL and the SIDE BACK PANEL still match together properly at the side seam. 

Add grainline and cutting instructions (SIDE FRONT PANEL - CUT 1 PAIR).

And you're ready to start sewing!

Remove fullness from the hem

If you would prefer to remove the extra fullness from the hemline of your Collins Top after your Full Bust Adjustment, then this part of the tutorial is for you!


Step 14 :

A : On the stitch line, measure the length of the opening at the hem. Take note of this measurement.

B : Measuring in from the side seam, mark a point the distance found in step A. For example, if the opening is 10cm, mark a point 10cm in from the side seam on the stitch line. 


Step 15 :

A : Re-draw the side seam by joining the top of the original side seam to the bottom with a straight line.

B : Now draw a straight line from the point marked on the hemline (in step 14B) to the point on the line you just marked, at the point where you closed out the dart. Extend the line a few centimetres (1" or so) beyond the intersection point. This line will become your new side seam. 

Note : If we simply drew a stright line between the top of the side seam and the new point on the hem, we would lose too much width across the bust from the side seam. 


Step 16 :

You will notice that the new side seam deviates from the original side seam a little bit at the top. We need to check how much has been added so we can add that same amount to the front sleeve piece. Take a ruler or tape measure and measure from the original side seam to the new side seam, on the stitch line. In the example, the new side seam is 1.9cm away from the original side seam at the underarm point. This means I need to add 1.9cm to the sleeve piece as well. 

To complete the front and side pattern pieces, draw in your panel line and then trace off the pieces. You can find out how to do this by scrolling back up to steps 6 - 13.

Making the adjustment to the sleeve piece. 


Step 17 :

A : Trace a copy of the FRONT SLEEVE pattern.

B : Draw a diagonal line down from the underarm point on the stitch line down to the hem. 

C : Cut down the line from the top towards the hem. Stop when you get 1-2mm from the stitch line at the hem. Cut up from the hem towards the point where you stopped cutting. Leave a 1-2mm hinge in place.

D : Swing open the pattern with the hinge, opening up the sleeve curve by the amount you need to add to the pattern (this is the same technique you learned earlier in this tutorial). For example, 1.9cm was added to my side front panel (step 16), so I will open up this piece by 1.9cm.


Step 19 :

Take some scraps of pattern paper and fill in the gaps on your pattern piece. Redraw the armhole curve (and seam allowance) and the hem line (and seam allowance). There you have it. Your sleeve piece will now fit into the armhole on your top. 

If you are making View B of the Collins Top (sleeveless version), tomorrow I'll be going through how to make adjustments to your front facing to fit with your newly adjusted bodice.

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The Collins Top Sew-along : Full bust adjustment (FBA for a dartless bodice)


Welcome to the first tutorial in the Collins Top Sew-along! In today's post, we're talking Full Bust Adjustments (FBA), which is one of the most frequently used adjustments. A few of you have already contacted me about how to do a FBA on the Collins Top, so I know this tutorial will be helpful to a lot of you!

During the Acton Sew-along I showed you how to do a FBA on a princess seam, but for the Collins Top you'll need a slightly different technique as it doesn't have a princess seam (or a dart).

You will be able to use this tutorial on any pattern that has a flat front (doesn't have a princess seam or dart).

We'll be making the FBA by adding a dart to the CENTRE FRONT PANEL only. We will do this by adding a dart to the front (with the side panel and centre front panel as a whole piece) and then removing it from the side panel - leaving you with just a small dart in the centre front panel. If you like, you can then close out the dart altogether and redistribute the fullness to the hem. You can find out how to do that by looking at the next post in the Collins Top sew-along


Most indie pattern companies (including In the Folds) draft for a B cup bust. There are of course exceptions to this rule (such as Cashmerette and Colette Patterns), so make sure you check on your pattern before assuming the bust cup size.

In terms of the Collins Top, it is a loose style which means it is a little more forgiving than more fitted patterns (such as the Acton, for example) so in some cases you can probably get away with not making a bust adjustment. For example, if your bust is smaller than a B cup, it is unlikely you need to bother doing a Small Bust Adjustment. I have an A cup bust, but have not made adjustments to any of my Collins tops. Also if your bust is just slightly bigger than a B cup, it is also likely you will be okay without the adjustment. By checking the finished measurmentes, you will see that there is a lot of ease in this pattern. 

Check the finished garment measurements and go from there. 


Your cup size in sewing patterns may not always correspond to the bra size you wear. To be safe, check your measurements before deciding if you need to make any adjustments to the pattern. 


To do this, measure your high bust measurement (the area above your breasts, under your arms) as well as your full bust  (the fullest part of your chest) and then take note of each measurement, as well as the difference.

If the difference is 2.5cm (1") your bust is an A cup, 5cm (2") it's a B cup, 7.5cm (3") is a C cup and so on. 


Now, go back to your high bust measurement and add 5cm (2"). This is what your bust measurement would be if you were a B cup and therefore the size you should be choosing from the pattern.

For example, let's say your upper bust measures 81cm (32"). Add 5cm (2") to this measurement to find out what size your bust measurement falls into on the In the Folds sizing chart (and what size you would be if you had B cup breasts). 81cm + 5cm = 86cm which corresponds to a size C. Your actual bust measurement is 89cm  though - 3cm (1") larger than the cup size of the pattern. This means you need to do a FBA and add this 3cm (1") to your pattern. 

As the bodice is cut on the fold, you need to take the measurement you will be adding and divide it by two. For example, this 3cm (just over 1") mentioned in the example, will be split between either side of the front bodice - 1.5cm (1/2") on each side. 



Step 1:

Take the two pieces that make the front of the Collins Top - the CENTRE FRONT PANEL and the SIDE FRONT PANEL. The first step will be to turn these pieces into one pattern piece (removing the panel line) as this will make the adjustment much easier to manage. At the end, we'll put the panel line back in place, so there won't be any change to the design of the top (except for the addition of the dart - which can be removed later on, if you prefer). 



Step 2:

Take the SIDE FRONT PANEL piece and place it on top of the CENTRE FRONT PANEL, lining up the stitch lines (the grey line on the pattern), as if the pieces have been sewn together. If you are struggling to see the lines, it can help to put the pieces up to a window and see through the paper that way (or a lightbox, if you have one). Once the pieces are correctly lined up, use masking tape (or similar) to hold the pieces in place. 


Step 2:

Take a piece of pattern paper and trace the piece - being sure to include all pattern markings (in this case: the grainline and notches). Also trace the panel line.

Make sure you trace both the cutting line and the stitching line - this is really important. In the Folds patterns include the stitching line on each pattern piece so that it is easier for you to make alterations to your pattern. I know we would all love to be able to cut a pattern in a straight size and for it to fit perfectly, but unfortunately that's not the way it is (I even have to make adjustments to In the Folds patterns so they fit my figure properly), so having the stitch lines can help you make adjustments more quickly and easily. When making pattern alterations, I normally suggest removing the seam allowance, but because the stitch line is marked on the pattern, you can leave it on. 



Step 3:

The next step is to mark your apex point on the pattern. Your apex point is the peak of the fullest part of your breast... which basically means your nipple! This point varies from person to person, so you can work it out by holding the pattern piece up to your body and working it out, or by referring to a toile (if you have toiled your Collins Top before working on any adjustments). 



Step 5:

Take a ruler and draw a line from where the panel line intersects the armhole to your apex point. You can label this line as line 1. 


Step 6:

Now draw a line from the apex point straight down to the hemline - parallel to the centre front. This is line 2. 


Step 7:

Draw a line from the apex point to the side seam. You'll want it to meet the side seam about 5cm (2in) down from the armhole. I chose to rule the line to the first notch on the side seam. This is line 3.


Step 8:

Draw the last guideline (4) perpendicular to line 2 about 12cm (3in) up from the hemline.



Step 9:

Now it's time to start making that adjustment!

A: From the hem of the top, cut up line 2, towards the apex point. From the apex point turn and continue cutting, this time along line 1. Stop when you are about 1-2mm away from the armhole line (stitch line).

B: Cut in towards the armhole stitch line from the seam allowance, stopping about 1-2mm from where you stopped cutting in step A - creating a small "hinge."


Step 10:

Cut along line 3 from the side seam towards the apex point. Stop 1-2mm from the apex point, again creating a small "hinge."

Add width to the pattern


Step 11:

Take a piece of pattern paper (about the size of your front piece) and draw a vertical line in roughly the centre of the paper.

By this stage you should know how much width you need to add to the bust. Take this measurement and divide it by two (you will add half the extra width to either side of the front piece, so in total it equals the whole amount you need). Draw a second line - parallel to the first - this distance away from the first line. For example, if you need to add a total of 5cm (2in) to the bust, you will be drawing the line 2.5cm (1in) away from the first. 


Step 12:

Carefully place your pattern piece on top of the paper underneath.

Now that you have cut through the lines, you will be able to manoeuvre the pieces so that you can the extra width you need to add around the bust. Carefully place the pattern onto the guidelines you drew in the previous step. Line up the the left-hand side of your pattern with the first line (line on left side), and carefully tape in place. Only tape above line 4, as in a moment we will be cutting along that line.

Now, carefully spread open the cut (line 2), spreading the side of your bodice until the apex point intersects with the second line (right hand side). As you do this, you will see a dart open up at the side seam (line 3). 

Add length to the pattern


Step 13:

Cut along line 4, detaching that piece of the pattern. Move this section down until it is in line with the rest of the pattern (horizontally). Tape or glue in place. You can see that this adjustment has not only added width to the pattern, but length as well. When making a full bust adjustment you need to add extra length so that there is enough fabric to comfortably go over the breasts, without making the garment too short. 

Create a dart


Step 14:

You will see that through making the adjustment, you have made a dart at the side seam. Draw in two dart arms, one from each side of the opening on the side seam to the apex point.


Step 15:

We will call the dart arms the 'upper dart arm' and the 'lower dart arm.'

Re-draw Panel line


Step 16:

The next thing we need to do is work out what this adjustment has done to the panel line and if any adjustment to the line needs to be made. To do this, we will need to fold out the dart as if it has been sewn. To do this, fold along the lower dart arm.

You will notice this tutorial has shifted from illustrations to photographs. Unfortunately my illustration skills leave me hanging a bit when it comes to illustrating three dimensional techniques, so I thought the clearest way to illustrate this technique would be through photographs. I used a print out of one of the illustrations to keep things consistent, and hopefully not confuse you too much!


Step 17:

Take your working piece to a corner of your table. By using a corner, you will be able to fold out your dart as if the piece has been sewn. Align the apex point (the dart point) with the corner of the table, and move the folded line (lower dart arm) towards the upper dart arm. 


Step 18:

When the lower dart arm is in line with the upper dart arm, finger press (making sure the dart is sitting flat) and then tape or pin in place. 


Step 19:

You will notice that the panel line is no longer a continuous line, and it is also no longer straight. 


Step 20:

To rectify this, take a ruler and draw a straight line from the top of the panel line (the point that intersects the armhole) to the bottom of the panel line (where the line intersects the hem). This can be a little awkward to do, having the pattern still on the corner of the table, so just be careful and take your time to get it right.

Before removing the pin, take a tracing wheel and run it over the line at the point where the dart is folded (this will transfer the date shaping to the bulk of the dart). If you don't have a tracing wheel, simply take a pin and make pin points every 2-3mm along the panel line over the folded dart. 


Step 21:

Unfold the dart.

You will now have the correct dart shaping marked on your piece (so that when your dart is folded and then sewn, the dart will sit flush with the panel line).


Step 22:

Take a ruler and join the dots to finalise the dart shaping.

For more detail on the process, check out this tutorial on How to Add Dart Shaping

Finalise the centre front panel piece


Step 23:

Take a spare piece of pattern paper and trace off the centre front panel, being sure to trace the new panel line and not the original line.


Step 24:

Now, mark the dart. You will want to make the point of the dart about 1.5cm (5/8in) from the apex point (inside the dart), to avoid the dart point sitting right on top of your nipple (not a great look).  

Add seam allowance


Step 25:

Add seam allowance by tracing the original seam allowance on the neckline, armhole and hem and then adding 1.2cm (1/2in) to the panel line.

For further explanation about adding seam allowance to a pattern, check out this tutorial

Mark notches


Step 26:

Mark in your notches by tracing the original notches and then adding one at either dart arm. Add another notch on the panel line (this will act as a balance point for when you are joining the FRONT SIDE PANEL). You can place it wherever you like as we will mark it on the FRONT SIDE PANEL piece a little later in the tutorial. 

You will also need to mark the dart point. I like to mark dart point 1.5cm (5/8in) inside the dart so that when I am sewing it, I sew 1.5cm (5/8in) beyond the marking and the marking gets hidden inside the dart. 


Step 27:

Finalise the pattern piece by adding cutting instructions, marking the grainline and the centre front. You can then cut out your pattern piece, ready for fabric cutting!

For more information on adding pattern markings, take a look at this tutorial, which covers all you need to know about notches, grainlines and cutting instructions.  

Finalise the SIDE FRONT panel


Step 28:

Move back to your working piece.

Cut along the panel line (being sure it's the new panel line and not the original panel line) - separating the piece into two, so that we can focus on the SIDE FRONT PANEL.


Step 29:

Cut along the dart arms that intersect the FRONT SIDE PANEL (we will be removing the dart from the FRONT SIDE PANEL, as we only need the dart in CENTRE FRONT PANEL) to create two separate pieces. 


Step 30:

Tape the two pieces together by lining up the cut edges. You have now closed out the section of the dart that was on this panel. 

Create a new pattern piece


Step 31:

Take a piece of pattern paper and trace the new pattern piece. Your side seam is likely to be a little disjointed since making the adjustment (like mine is in the example). Re-draw the seam by drawing a straight line from the top to the bottom of the seam - on the stitch line. This is called "truing" a pattern.

Add seam allowance


Step 32:

Add seam allowance in the same way that you did on the front panel. The side seam has 1.5cm (5/8in) seam allowance and the panel line has 1.2cm (1/2in).


Step 33:

Transfer the grainline and add cutting instructions.

You will notice that we have lost almost all the notches in the process of making the adjustment. I'll show you how to get those back now. 

Marking notches


Step 34:

Place the SIDE FRONT PANEL on top of the CENTRE FRONT PANEL, lining up the stitch line - as if the two pieces were being sewn (this is when transparent pattern paper is really helpful). The CENTRE FRONT PANEL will be right side up and the SIDE FRONT PANEL will be right side down. 


Step 35:

Transfer the notches from the CENTRE FRONT PANEL onto the SIDE FRONT PANEL. Only transfer the notch from the lower dart arm, not the upper dart arm (as when the dart is sewn, the dart will be what lines up with the notch on the SIDE FRONT PANEL).

True the seam allowance


Step 36:

While you have the pattern there, true the seam allowance at the hem (so that when the seam is pressed it will sit flush with the hem).

For more detail on why we do this and how to do it, check out this tutorial on truing patterns


Step 37:

Now we can true the top of the seam allowance by aligning the top of the panel seam (above the top notch) with the CENTRE FRONT PANEL. You will notice that the rest of the seam no longer matches up. This is because of the dart. When the dart is sewn, the angle of the seam will change and match perfectly with the SIDE FRONT PANEL.


Step 38:

True the seam allowance in the same way that you did for the other end of the seam. 

Add notches to the side seam


Step 39:

Now it's time to add notches to the side seam. Take the SIDE BACK PANEL so that we can transfer the notches from this piece onto the SIDE FRONT PANEL (as these pieces will be sewn together and therefore need to match). 


Step 40:

Again, line up the stitching lines, as if you were sewing the pieces together. Transfer the notches from the SIDE BACK PANEL to the SIDE FRONT PANEL. 

Please note : If there is a discrepancy between the lengths of the side seams (which there could be due to the alteration we made to the SIDE FRONT PANEL), use this tutorial to true the seams so that they are the same length. 


And there you have it, the finished SIDE FRONT PANEL!

Now you can go ahead and make your Collins Top! The process will be the same as the instructions that come with the pattern, except you will need to start by sewing your darts in the CENTRE FRONT PANEL. 

I know that turned out to be a very long tutorial. What did you think? Easy process?

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The Acton sew-along : How to lengthen the bodice (above the bust)


If you have been following the Acton sew-along, you will know that we're now onto making pattern alterations! The bodice of the Acton is quite fitted, so making some alterations to get the bodice just right for you, is really important (if the pattern doesn't fit you straight out of the packet).

I know a lot of people get quite daunted about pattern alterations, but the ones required for the Acton aren't too scary at all, as it doesn't have sleeves or shoulder seams - which simplifies it quite a bit. I showed you how to make a toile a few days ago, and now from doing a fitting, you should know what changes you need to make. Lengthening or shortening the bodice is a common adjustment to make, so I thought I'd show you how to add length in two different spots. By referring to your toile, you should be able to tell where you need to add length - it could be from below the bust line, above the bust line, or even a bit from both. 

Getting started


To start, trace a copy of the CENTRE FRONT BODICE and SIDE FRONT BODIE of the Acton pattern (it's always a good idea to trace a copy of the pattern, rather than using the original, in case you make a mistake. Although with a digital pattern you can always print another copy if necessary!), including all pattern markings (in this case the stitch line, grainlines and notches). 

Normally I suggest removing the seam allowance when making pattern alterations, but when it's as simple as this alteration, there really is no need. 


Draw a horizontal line (perpendicular to the grainline) through each pattern piece the location you need to add length. On the SIDE FRONT BODICE piece, extend the grainline so that it crosses the horizontal line and is on the top part of the pattern piece. As I said, for this tutorial I will be showing you how to add length above the bust line. If you need to add length below the bust line, check out this tutorial.

Cut through the pattern pieces


Carefully cut through each line, separating each piece into two. 

lengthen the bodice


Take two pieces of pattern paper (this is a great time to use up some of your paper scraps!).

A : For the SIDE FRONT BODICE you will need your piece of paper to be slightly wider than the one for CENTRE FRONT BODICE. Draw a horizontal line straight through the (roughly) middle. In the centre, draw a line perpendicular to the horizontal line, creating a right angle. This will be the grainline of the new SIDE FRONT BODICE piece. 

B : Draw a horizontal line straight through the (roughly) middle. On the right hand side, draw a line perpendicular to the horizontal line, creating a right angle. This will be the grainline of the new CENTRE FRONT BODICE piece. 


A : Take the lower section of the SIDE FRONT BODICE and line it up with the horizontal and vertical line you just drew - the grainline matching up with the vertical line (you can now see why this line had to be closer to the middle) and the cut edge aligned with the horizontal line. Tape or glue in place. 

B : Take the lower section of the CENTRE FRONT BODICE and line it up with the horizontal and vertical line you just drew - the centre front matching up with the vertical line and the cut edge aligned with the horizontal line. Tape or glue in place. 


By looking at your toile, work out how much extra length you need to add to the pattern. For the case of the example, I will be adding 1.5cm (5/8").

On the vertical line on each pattern piece, mark a point 1.5cm /5/8" (or whatever length you are adding to the pattern) above the cut edge. 


Draw a line parallel to the cut edge of the pattern running from the point you marked in the previous step on both the SIDE FRONT BODICE (A) and CENTRE FRONT BODICE (B).


A : Take the upper section of the SIDE FRONT BODICE and place the cut edge on the second horizontal line, aligning the grainline with the vertical line. Tape or glue in place. 

B : Take the upper section of the CENTRE FRONT BODICE and place the cut edge on the second horizontal line, aligning the centre front with the vertical line. Tape or glue in place. 

Trace the pattern pieces to create the new pieces


Take two pieces of pattern paper to trace the new pattern pieces. 

A : Trace the stitch lines on the SIDE FRONT BODICE. Re-draw the armhole line and princess seam line, by finding a line of best fit between the original stitch lines. 

B : Trace the stitch lines on the CENTRE FRONT BODICE. Re-draw the princess seam line by joining the top of seam to the bottom with a straight line. 


Add seam allowance to both pieces - by using the original pattern edges as a guide.

A : Add 1.5cm (5/8") to the side seam, 1.2cm (1/2") to the waist seam and princess seam and 1cm (3/8") to the armhole.

B : Add 1.2cm (1/2") seam allowance to the waist seam, princess seam and centre front. Add 1cm (3/8") to the armhole and neckline. 


Be sure to also transfer all pattern markings - notches, drill hole and grainline. 


Label the pattern for safe-keeping. You can now cut out your new pattern pieces. Repeat process for the back pattern pieces (if you also need to add length to the back of the bodice).

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The Acton sew-along : Making a toile


Welcome back to the Acton sew-along! Now that we've taken our measurements and worked out what size (or sizes) matches our measurements the closest, it is time to make a toile!


A toile (also known as a ‘muslin’) is basically a draft version of a garment. A toile is normally made from a cheaper fabric, so that you can test the fit of a particular garment before cutting into your real (and normally more expensive) fabric. 

It is best to choose a fabric to toile in, that is similar to what you plan to make the actual garment in. If you are using a lovely sandwashed silk, then you will need something with a similar handle and drape as the silk, so you can get a good idea of what the final garment will look like. Making a winter coat? Choose something with a similar thickness and drape. For the Acton, it is designed to be used with 'drapey' fabrics, but to get a good idea of the fit of the bodice, I would use something stiffer than suggested - such as calico or cotton. 



We all come in different shapes and sizes, and although I may have the same measurements as the girl next to me, this does not at all mean we have the same body shape. Some of us may have a sway back, forward sitting shoulders (that’s me!), narrow shoulders, longer torso etc. By making a toile, you can quickly see if any adjustment needs to be made. As you sew more garments for yourself, you will get better at knowing what to look for, as you will often notice the same fitting problem across the board. You may think that In the Folds patterns would fit me straight out of the packet. They don't! My patterns are drafted to fit a "standard" (is there such thing?) size 10 fit model, which means that before making something from one of my patterns, I must make a few alterations too... So I am right here with you!


After choosing your size, printing the pattern, and making any alterations that are standard to you (such as an FBA or SBA), make up the garment in your chosen toiling fabric. You don’t have to add facings, collars or pockets etc when making a toile. I never bother with buttonholes or zips either, I just pin the opening closed when it’s on. For the Acton, if you're short of time, you can get away with just toiling and fitting the bodice. 

You just want to check the overall fit of the garment, so you will only need the main pattern pieces (in the case of the Acton, you just need to cut the bodice pieces, not the lining). There is no need to even finish the seams!

To Start


Cut out your bodice pieces in your chose size. Remove the seam allowance from the neckline and armholes, as well as the waistline seam. This will help you get an accurate idea of the fit, without getting confused by the seams that have not been finished. 

For loose fitting garments, that have enough ease to fit a wide range of shapes (such as The Rushcutter) you can go right ahead and cut out your toile and get sewing, but for fitted garments like the Acton, it is best to mark some guidelines on your pieces first. This will really help when it comes to fitting the bodice and working out what changes need to be made. 

Mark guidelines on your pattern pieces


Take your pair of SIDE FRONT BODICE pieces and draw a horizontal line through the fullest part of the bust. Transfer this line onto the CENTRE FRONT BODICE too (at the same level).

Draw a vertical line through each piece too. This doesn't have to be exact - these lines will just act as reference points when you are fitting. They will help you tell if the bodice is sitting as it should. 

It can be a good idea to try a toile on inside out, so transfer these guidelines onto the wrong side of the fabric too.


Do the same for the CENTRE BACK BODICE and SIDE BACK BODICE pieces. 

Sew the toile

Sew the bodice together, according to the instructions in the pattern (leaving the centre back seam open). When sewing, consider using a long stitch length, so that you can quickly and easily unpick any seams that need to be altered. You can also use a contrasting thread to make it even easier to see your stitches (and remove them if necessary).

Press all seams open before stay-stitching around the top edge of the bodice (neckline and armholes) - this will prevent the toile from stretching while you are fitting it. Press the centre back seam allowances in by 2cm - these creases will help you pin the bodice closed in the correct place. 


Tie a piece of elastic (or similar) around your natural waist. This will act as a reference point for your bodice so that you are able to check the bodice length, as well as act as a guideline to check that the bodice sits correctly.


Line up the bust line on the bodice with your actual bust line (the line that runs through the fullest part of your bust - or across your bust apex / nipples), and get pinned into the bodice (up the centre back seam) with the bodice inside out. It is a really good idea to have a friend around to help you with the fitting. It can be a little tricky if you're on your own! If you are on your own, try turning the bodice around so that the centre back is at the front and pin the back seam closed before twisting it around the right way.

As the bodice doesn't have straps yet, it can be helpful to try the bodice on with the fitted jersey top on underneath. This way you can pin the bodice to the top if it's not staying up on its own! 

Get in front of the mirror and take a look.

Fitting is a process, one change will effect another part of the toile, and so on and so forth - so it is important to do your fitting in a methodical way. When working on a full garment, work from the top down - fitting the bust, the waist and then the hips. 

Check the side seam


First things first, check the side seam. Is it sitting perpendicular to the elastic you have around your waist? If it is being pulled forward, it could be a sign that you need to do a FBA. 

Check the bust

Check the overall fit of the bust. The Acton is designed to be quite fitted (there is only 2cm / 1" ease at the bust).

If the bust is too small...


A : If the bodice feels as if it's pulling across the bust (or you can't even get the bodice closed at the centre back), unpick the princess panels from the bust line up, and then the bust line down - releasing the fabric - but not unpicking the whole seam. Make sure you do this to both sides so you can get a correct gauge of the fit with the extra width added.

B : Measure how much your princess panels are opening up at the bust line. Measure the opening on both sides. If they are not the same, add them together and divide by 2 (to find the average), so that you add the correct amount when you do your Full Bust Adjustment (tutorial coming soon). Take note of this number, so that you can use it when doing your FBA.

If the bust is too big...


A : If you have the opposite problem, and the bust area is too big, carefully pin down the princess seams, removing the excess. Do this on both princess seams, being careful to remove an even amount from each side.

B & C : Take a pen or marker and draw the new panel line on both sides of the princess panel by following the pins.


A : On the bust line, on the CENTRE FRONT BODICE, measure the difference between the original stitch line and the marked line, take note of the measurement. Repeat for the other princess panel. 

B : On the bust line, on the SIDE FRONT BODICE, measure the difference between the original stitch line and the marked line, take note of the measurement. Repeat for the other princess panel. 

Add up these four measurements to find the total you need to remove from the bodice when you do a Small Bust Adjustment. 

Check the bodice length below the bust

Once the bust is sorted, it is time to check the length of the bodice.


A : Measure down from the bottom edge of the bodice at the centre front seam to your waist. The bodice was designed to sit roughly 12cm above the natural waist. Take note if your bodice sits above or below the 12cm mark. In a later tutorial I will show you how to add / remove length to the bodice if your bodice is too long or too short. 

B : Measure down from the bottom edge of the bodice at the centre back seam to your waist. The bodice was designed to sit roughly 5cm above the natural waist at the back. Take note if your bodice sits above or below the 5cm mark. 

Check the bodice length above the bust

You may notice that your bodice is sitting in the right place in relation to the waist, but there may be too much (or too little) fabric above the bustline. 


I have two dressforms with very similar measurements, you will notice that in photograph B the bodice sits much closer to the neckline than in photograph A. This shows that the dressforms have different proportions above the bustline only (as the bodice sits 12cm above the natural waist on both).

Work out where the problem is, do you need to remove length above the armhole? Or is the armhole sitting too close to the armpit too? (if this is the case you will need to remove length from the side seam across the whole bodice)

Remove length above the bust


The best way to really work out the fit issues you have in a toile is to start cutting into your fabric and making changes. This way you can get a real idea of the changes as you make them, and hopefully save yourself from making too many toiles!

A : Cut through the bodice at the point that has too much length - this may be above the armhole, below the armhole but above the bust line, or below the bust line.*

B : Move the detached piece down until it is sitting in the correct position. Pin in place and measure how much length has been removed. 

*You may need to add length in more than one place

Add length above the bust


A : Cut through the bodice at the point that is too short - this may be above the armhole, below the armhole but above the bust line, or below the bust line. (Again, length may be needed in multiple spots).

B : Take a strip of scrap fabric and pin to the lower portion of the bodice. Move the detached piece up until it is sitting in the correct position. Pin in place and measure how much length has been added.  


Repeat the process of cutting and opening (or cutting and closing) to add / remove the length from the places it is needed. If you want to get a really good idea of how the new bodice is fitting, you can stitch the strips of fabric in place on the machine, before trying on the bodice again. 

Add the straps


Once you have the bodice right, use thin straps of fabric (or bias binding or tape - whatever you have around) to make two "straps" (this will save you sewing up straps) and pin in place. Getting the right strap length is crucial to getting a good fit with the Acton. Make sure your straps allow the bodice to sit comfortably, and the peak of the bodice (the bust guideline) remains on the peak of your bust. Take note of the strap length so you have it for when you are making the real thing.

What's next?

If this fitting has revealed that you have lots of changes to make to the pattern, make the changes and make another toile. It is always good to check the fit of a pattern after making significant changes.

And don't worry, I won't leave you hanging now that you know what pattern alterations need to be made!

In the coming days I have the following tutorials lined up for you:

January 12 and 13 : Lengthening the bodice

January 16 and 17 : Shortening the bodice

January 18 : Full bust adjustment (FBA)

January 19 : Small bust adjustment (SBA)

January 20 : Grading between sizes

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The Rushcutter sew-along: more pattern alterations


In yesterday's post, I showed you a few alterations that you may want to make to The Rushcutter: lower the neckline, add or removing volume, shortening and lengthening the pattern.

Today I have a follow on post for you, as I was worried I might intimidate you if I put all the alterations in the one post!

Create a slimmer Rushcutter

The Rushcutter sewing pattern is designed to be over-sized, so there is a lot of ease in it. It may be a little too much for some of you, so, in today's post, I will show you how to slim down the dress a little. It is not overly complicated, but is slightly more difficult  than it would be on a more conventional pattern, as it does not have side seams!

I would suggest, before making any major adjustments to the pattern (like this one) make a toile, so you know exactly how much width you can afford to remove from the pattern.

1. To start, take the 'Side Panel' pattern piece. This is where we will be removing some width from the pattern piece. The grainline, which runs right through the middle of the pattern piece (and therefore down the side of the body) is where you will be removing the fabric from.

2. Work out how much you would like to remove, by referring to your toile. You will want to take the amount evenly from both sides of the dress. Divide the total amount by 2 and then distribute this measurement either side of the grainline (on the stitching line) - half on the front section  of the pattern piece (indicated by the single notches) and half towards the back (indicated by the double notches).

3. Cutting from the top, cut along the grainline, down towards the hemline. Do not cut all the way through the pattern. Stop a 2-3mm from the bottom, so that a small "hinge" of paper remains intact. You will now notice that you can separate the two sides of the pattern quite easily, without detaching them entirely. 

4. Now, swing one side of the pattern over the other (doesn't matter which one) until the points that you marked overlap. You will see that, by doing this, you have removed a slice from the middle of the pattern. Tape (or glue) in place.

5. By taking out this slice, the underarm curve will now come to a sharp point. Redraw the stitch line and the cutting edge, with a nice smooth line, to correct this. 

Now that you have removed some width from the side panel, you will need to remove the same amount from the raglan sleeve - as these two pieces are sewn together. 

1. Remember the amount we distributed either side of the grainline on the side panel? Take this measurement and divide it by 2. Measuring in from the underarm seam (remember to measure from the stitch line, if your pattern still includes seam allowance), marking a point the distance determined. Repeat for the second side.

2. Draw a line from the points marked, down towards the hemline, meeting with the original stitch line, at the line that indicates where to fold up the sleeve hem.

3. Redraw the cutting line, by adding 1.5cm seam allowance to the new line.

Re-draft the pocket

You may decide to make a short version of the Rushcutter. Megan, one of my lovely testers, decided to shorten hers to tunic length. Nice, right? The only problem is that you end up losing quite a bit of pocket depth. The easiest way to solve this is to simply re-draft the pocket piece, so that it will be your desired depth.

I will show you how I drafted the original pattern piece, so your new pattern will fit perfectly, just like the original!


1. Work out how deep you would like to make the pocket, you can do this by referring to the original pattern piece, or by holding the 'Side Panel' pattern piece up to your side and marking where you would like the pocket to start. Mark the point on the grainline of your pattern piece.

2. Draw a line, perpendicular to the grainline, from the marked point. Extend the line 5mm past stitching line on both ends (this is because the pocket panel was drafted to be slightly wider than the piece it is stitched to, to add a little volume).

3. Starting at one endpoint, draw a straight line that meets the bottom corner of the pattern piece, easing back into the original stitch line. Repeat for the other side.


4. Take a seperate piece of paper and trace a copy of the new pattern piece, being sure to also transfer grainline and notches onto the new pattern piece.

5. Add seam allowance to both sides and the hem (not the top edge, just yet). The seam allowance needs to be 1.5cm on each side and 1cm at the hem. 

6. Draw a line that runs parallel to the top edge of the pocket, 4cm above the original line. Fold along the top edge of the pocket.

7. Trace the seam lines onto the pocket hem (you want to do this so that when the piece is cut, and you fold the top hem of the pocket back to finish the edge, it meets the pocket smoothly).

8. You now have your pocket piece! Add markings and get sewing!

Relocating the shoulder dart

After trying on your toile, you may feel that the dart does not quite sit on your shoulder. If this is the case, you may want to move the dart slightly forward or backwards, from its original position.


1. Work out where your dart needs to be (by measuring in relation to the original dart) and draw a straight line running from the new location on the neckline, to the original dart point.

2. Focusing on the original dart, cut down the outside dart arm, from the neckline to the dart point. Don't cut all the way to the end, stop when you are 2-3mm away. Do the same with the line you just marked, also stopping a few millimetres from the end. This will create a small 'hinge,' which allows you to move this section of the pattern, whilst still keeping the pieces attached.


3. Rotate the cut section until you have closed out the original dart (one dart arm overlaps the other), and tape in place.

4. You will now see that you have opened up a new dart. To complete it, you will need to add dart shaping, and seam allowance to the new dart.

Okay, thats it for today's post. And guess what, tomorrow it's finally time to cut some fabric! Yippee! Let me know if there is an alteration that I didn't include in today or yesterday's post that you need!

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Transferring pattern changes from toile to pattern


Last week I showed you how to make a toile, and what you should be looking for when fitting. In today's post, I will show you how to transfer changes from toile to pattern.

Lowering the neckline

The first change that I will show you is how to lower the neckline of The Rushcutter. I am all about the high neck on this dress, but I understand that it's not for everyone. If you'd prefer it to be slightly lower (or even drastically lower) it's not a difficult alteration to make. 

To start, take the sleeve pattern and the centre front panel pattern piece, and put them together. Place one sewing line over the other, so you can see how the pieces fit together when they are sewn. You will notice that on The Rushcutter sewing pattern, both the stitching line and the cutting line are marked, so that making pattern alterations is a little simpler. 

Work out how much you would like to lower the neckline by, by taking the measurement from your toile (measuring down the centre front) and mark it on your pattern piece. Make sure you measure it from the stitch line rather than the edge of the pattern. For the example, I only lowered the neckline at the front, but if you would also like to lower the neckline at the back, place a mark on your centre back too.

Before redrawing the neckline, you will need to fold the dart (so you can get the neckline all in one piece). The easiest way to do this is by placing the dart point on the corner of the table like this. The dart fullness should be folded towards the back.

Starting at the point you marked on the centre front, re-draw the neckline with a smooth curve, gradually easing back into the original neckline (unless you are also lowering the neckline at the back, in which case you will want your new neckline to meet with the point you marked on the centre back).

Before unfolding the dart, take a tracing wheel and trace over the new neck curve at the dart. This will transfer the correct neck shaping onto your dart. If you need some extra help with this, check out this tutorial. You will now just need to add seam allowance to the neckline and you are good to go!

Add or remove volume

The next thing I'm going to show you is how to use the cut and spread technique to add or remove volume from The Rushcutter. You may want to use this technique on the body of the dress, or maybe even the sleeve. 

If you have never used the method of cutting and spreading before, this example will basically show you how to do it. If you want to see it in more detail, check back on the blog later this week, as I am planning to do a post on this technique.

Pattern alterations are much easier to manage if your pattern does not have seam allowance. Remove the seam allowance from the pattern you are altering, or trace a copy of the pattern piece without seam allowance. This is really easy to do with The Rushcutter pattern as the stitch line is marked for you.

1. Draw two vertical lines through the pattern, which will cut the pattern into three equal-ish parts (this does not have to be exact).

2. Starting with one of the lines, cut up from the hemline towards the top of the pattern. Do not cut all the way through the pattern, leave a 1-2mm "hinge." The hinge will give you the freedom to move the parts of the pattern easily, but will still keep the pieces together. Repeat for the second line. 

3. Place the pattern on top of a piece of pattern paper, slightly larger than the pattern piece. Spread the pieces apart, by the desired amount, being careful to distribute the width evenly. When you are happy, tape (or glue) the pieces down carefully.

4. Redraw the hemline with a smooth curve. If the opposite edge has changed shape too drastically you should also re-draw the line.


The method is the same for reducing volume, you just need to close the cut and spread line, rather than open it.

Shortening pattern

There are two ways of shortening a pattern - the first is to simply remove some length from the hem of the pattern. This method is often used when a garment has been made up and then once it can be tried on and fitted, the length is determined.

The other method is to shorten the pattern piece by removing the length from inside the pattern piece. By using this method, the overall shape of the pattern piece will not be lost.

For this method, you first need to find the 'length and shorten line,' on the pattern piece you would like to shorten. I am using the sleeve from The Rushcutter as an example, but this method can be used on any of the pattern pieces.

Cut along the line to create two separate pieces.

Think about how much length you would like to remove from your pattern piece. Mark this distance on one side of the pattern, measuring from the cut line. Marking this point on the grainline will help ensure the mark remains perpendicular to the cut line. 

Draw a perpendicular line through this point, extending to either side of the pattern piece. 

Move the unmarked pattern piece (in this case, the lower part of the sleeve) to line up with the perpendicular line just drawn, and tape (or glue) in place. 


You can now redraw the seam lines on each side of your pattern with a straight line (or a curve, if your pattern piece has curved seams).

Lengthening a pattern

For lengthening a pattern piece, the concept is exactly the same. Cut up through the 'lengthen and shorten line' and separate the pattern into two pieces.

Open the pattern pieces by the amount you want to lengthen your pattern piece by. Tape a piece of pattern paper onto the back ofthe pieces to fill the gap.

Redraw the side seams with a straight line, and you are done!

I think that's enough pattern altering for today's post, in the next post I'll show you how to slim down the dress by removing some width from the side panel, move the dart on the raglan sleeve (View A), move the shoulder seam (View B) and adjust the pocket.

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