Welcome to the first post in our Scout Tee September series! Before we begin sharing pattern variations, we wanted to make sure you have a solid starting point – a well-fitting Scout Tee. Today’s post is all about muslins and the steps you’ll need to do a full bust adjustment (FBA) for this top.
Our number one recommendation for anyone sewing a pattern for the first time is to make a muslin or toile. In addition to being plain cotton fabric, muslin is also a term used to describe a test garment that’s made from inexpensive fabric. This test garment can be used to assess the fit of the pattern and any changes that need to be made. Muslins also allow you to practice new sewing techniques, or test out a fabric choice that differs from what was recommend by the designer, before you cut into your project fabric. A frequently touted benefit of sewing is that it results in garments that fit in a way ready to wear clothing doesn’t; however, a common misconception is that garments made from patterns fit perfectly without any work. Unless you’re the exact same measurements as one of our two fit models you’ll likely have to make some adjustments to the pattern to get the custom fit of your dreams.
We know this, and yet it can still be a challenge to reign in our desire to jump right into a project. What’s helped us make a habit out of making muslins before diving in, is accepting the reality that the garments we reach for are those that fit well. With that said, let’s get started!
Before you begin, you’ll need to take your measurements as this will allow you to determine which pattern size you’ll be cutting out. The three measurements you’ll need to take are your bust, waist, and hip. With the Scout Tee the most important measurement will be your bust as it is the most fitted section of the garment. The A-line shape of the top is designed to fall away from the body, but depending on your measurements you made need to grade out through the waist and hips.
For the bust measurement you’re going to measure around the fullest point of your bust, wearing whatever type of bra or undergarment you plan on wearing under your garment. It’s a good idea to have someone help you take your measurements, especially the bust, if you can as having your arms up and holding the tape can affect the measurement a bit.
The waist measurement will be at your natural waist. Your natural waist is the point you bend from. Leaning to the side or placing your hands on your waist in a natural manner can help you identify where this is on your body. The hip measurement will be the fullest part of your hips and butt. Typically this is approximately 7″ below your natural waist, though on others it can be lower. You want to make sure you get around the full circumference so you don’t end up with tight hips!
Once you have all of your measurements you can select your size and follow the pattern instructions to complete your muslin. Generally, muslins are left with the seams and hems unfinished, but if you’re new to sewing you may want to go through all of the steps in order to get some practice in. For my first muslin, I cut out a straight size 8 after referencing my measurements, highlighted above, from memory. Due to the fact that the Scout hem falls at the high hip it wasn’t necessary for me to grade to a larger size through the hips, but I knew I needed to make a few changes to the pattern after my muslin was complete. My first muslin, shown at the top of this post, fit tight across the bust. It also had numerous drag lines from the backside of the underarm.
As I mentioned, I selected my size using the memory of my measurements. This brings up a good point – your measurements change! You may not need to measure yourself in between every project, but every few months it’s a good practice to remeasure and ensure that the measurements you’re selecting are grounded in reality. After measuring, I realized my bust measurement is currently 37.5″ (95.25 cm), and my upper bust measurement is 35″ (88.9 cm).
While we’re talking about bust measurements, it’s important to note that The Scout is drafted for a B sewing cup which means that it’s designed for there to be a 2″ (5.08 cm) difference between the upper bust and the full bust. This number is important, as it can help you decide whether or not you may need an FBA. If the number you get when you subtract your upper bust from your full bust (the total adjustment) is over 2″ (5.08 cm) (B cup) you may need a FBA, whereas if the number you get is 2″ (5.08 cm) of less you’re either fine to use the pattern as is, or you might consider a small bust adjustment. Since my total adjustment is over 2″ (5.08 cm) I chose to move forward with a full bust adjustment and we’re showing you how to do that here.
Scout Tee Full Bust Adjustment Steps
- Select your size based on your upper bust (in my case a size 6) and waist measurements, and cut out your pattern pieces. Locate the apex of your bust by measuring from your shoulder to your bust point or by holding the pattern piece up to your body with the shoulder and side seams in place. Mark this point on the center front pattern piece.
- Draw a line from the apex out to the side seam at a slight downward angle. Next you’re going to draw a vertical line from the apex down to the hemline of the pattern piece, making sure to keep the line parallel to the CF/grain line. From there draw a line connecting the apex to the approximate center of the armscye. These are the lines that will form the full bust adjustment. Additionally you’re going to need a line across the torso, perpendicular to the CF/grain line in order to line up the hem in a future step. I made this one dotted so it doesn’t get confused with the adjustment lines.
- Slash through the waistline to the bust and up to the armscye taking care to cut to, but not through, the pattern at that point. You want to make sure that the two pieces are hinged together. Then slice through the line connecting the side seam to the apex, taking care to not cut through the apex point. You want the pieces hinged. You’ll then open the vertical slit the amount of your full bust adjustment making sure that the two edges of the opening are parallel. To determine the amount of your adjustment subtract your upper bust measurement from your full bust measurement. So if your full bust was 40″ (101.6 cm) and your upper bust was 36″ (91.44 cm) you’d subtract 40-36 ( 101.6-91.44 cm) to get 4″ (10.16 cm) which would require an adjustment.Now you can take this new number and do one of two things with it. It seems to be the most common to just divide this number in half and apply that number to each side of the adjustment shown below, so you would spread the vertical slit by 2″ (5.08 cm).Your other option is to take your new number, in our case 4″ (10.16 cm) and subtract 2″ (5.08 cm) from it to get the full amount of your bust adjustment. Subtracting the 2″ (5.08 cm) comes from the fact that the pattern is drafted for a B cup which is already a 2″ (5.08 cm) difference. Since this amount is already drafted into the pattern you are just adding the additional amount on top of what exists. You would then divide the full amount of the adjustment in half so you would be doing a 1″ (1.54 cm) adjustment on each side of the pattern. We recommend doing a muslin to decide which method works best for your body.
- You’ll notice that when you move the side out for the adjustment the side panel becomes longer than the piece you moved. Cut along the line you drew in Step 2 and align the newly freed piece so that it’s even with both the center front and the dotted line on the side piece.
- This method of adjustment will result in a dart being formed. To aide in creating the dart legs, find the center of the dart and mark a line through it (dotted line above). This will help you when folding the dart in the next step.
- Fold the dart legs together with the takeup pointing towards the bottom of the garment and re-blend the side seam. I like to score the bottom dart leg and center line lightly with an awl to help the pattern fold exactly where you want it to on the first try. You can either cut across the side seam/dart or mark it with a pattern tracing wheel and cut when the dart is open.
- Unfold the dart and cut out your new piece!
My second muslin, shown above, with my FBA had more room throughout the bust and ultimately fit better than the first. The benefit to making a second muslin after making pattern adjustments is to determine whether those adjustments worked and whether any other changes need to be made. Case in point, I realized that I had marked my bust apex point too low on my pattern piece when doing my FBA which resulted in my dart being too low. Making this second muslin allowed me to make this correction before cutting into the fabric of my first Scout Tee.
Now that we’ve got fitting out of the way we’ll be sharing Scouts and variations throughout the month. Have you made your muslin yet? Do you make muslins? Let us know in the comments below!