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Sew Over It Doris Dress FBA and adjustments

For years I’ve been searching for the perfect summer dress that can be made up quickly in a viscose challis. Challis is so easy to come by for a reasonable price and in so many beautiful prints. I’ve got tonnes of it in my stash, and have been longing to replace a favourite summer dress, and I finally thought that maybe the cheap augmentin 875 would be the answer.

Unfortunately, the cheap augmentin 875 is not available in anything over a size 20 (UK) which is a 45″ bust. I did ask if they had any intention of doing larger sizes and was told point-blank, no. It’s a real shame to see indie companies refusing to engage with plus-sized customers. Oh well. It’s a nice dress and I would need to adjust it anyway regardless of size.

The parts that I love about this dress are the button-up front (but also concealed zip so there is choice!) and the grown-on sleeves. For someone narrow-shouldered like me it can be hard to get dresses with set-in sleeves to fit properly as I often have to take in the shoulder line, which affects the fit elsewhere. However this dress has no armscye so hopefully this won’t be an issue. I also love the flippy 7-part skirt (lots of seams offer space to add inches) and the fact is should work in a simple, drapey fabric. It can be hard to find dress patterns that work well in fabrics with little structure. 

I had to make several adjustments to the size of the pattern. I identified that I needed to add 4″ to the bust and 7″ to both the waist and the hip. This dress only has 1″ of ease so I would definitely need all that extra width (often lack of larger size can be hidden in extra ease, it just produces a more fitted garment).

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This was the part that I was most worried about, as I’ve never done an FBA on something with grown-on sleeves before. However it was so much easier than I expected! I managed to find, by frantically googling, a picture of an FBA being performed on this type of bodice and it seemed they just cut the sleeve off to make a faux armscye shape, then added it back later. I used my fashion curve to get a line that sort of looked like an armscye, cut it off, and did the FBA. I then put the sleeve back on. It added a little extra fabric to the point where the sleeve meets the bodice, and I had to redraw the shoulder seam line, however the measurement remained the same. The result is a new bodice with a 2″ FBA and the introduction of a side dart for a better fit on a large bust.

I did not add this extra width back into the pleat. If I were just doing an FBA I would have made a larger waist dart, but because I wanted to add waist width I figured the extra 4″ added across the front bodice piece would be well on my way to the 7″ I needed to add to the waist. (The picture shows the redrawn wide pleat, but I ended up moving the pleat line back after this picture)

Adding width to the waist

Next up, waist! I had already expanded the waist by 4″ across the front. I’m fairly even in needing extra around my body so I wanted to add a little at pretty much every seam.

Firstly I added 1″ to the centre back seam. I needed to add 1″ to the back facing also, which was pretty simple, plus adding an inch to the back belt (though I think I will probably go for the tie actually, not yet traced off). I am slightly concerned that this will make the neckline too wide, but I think it’s best to wait until I toile to see if this is a problem. If so, I’ll need to add that width to the back pleats instead rather than the centre back so that it does not affect the neck size.

Next I added 0.5″ to each side seam. Because I’m spreading this across the front and back, I only needed to add 0.25″ to each side seam instead (this makes for 1″ added overall). To do this without having to fuss with the dart, I simply cut the dart out at the side like a block and slid it over 0.25″. I did the same on the back piece, then smoothed out the side seam line. I’ve done this before when making shoulders narrower and it’s a really quick way to pull in or push out pat of a pattern, as long as you can get a nice smooth style line. You can see the small gaps on the retrace picture of the front and back.

Finally, I added 0.5″ to each back pleat. Just moved one of the lines inwards a little to make the pleat take up less fabric. With all of these adjustments I’ve successfully added 7″ to the pattern waist! And all these adjustments have occurred at seamlines on the skirt, so I can add to each piece ensuring that the seam lines still match up nicely (or so we hope).

Watch out for the update where I adjust the skirt and sew up a toile to test these adjustments!

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