The dartless full bust adjustment – Kalle

One of the most challenging aspects for me in getting started with a pattern is the adjustments. I don’t think I’m alone in that! I’ve spoken before on the blog about my desire to try to get the fit right in my me mades, and there are quite a few I typically need to make, including an FBA (full bust adjustment). Whilst I’m pretty well practiced at increasing the dart size, some of my more recent makes have been a bit more challenging as they haven’t included a dart, and I’ve sometimes struggled to know which method to use. With this in mind, I’ve been documenting some of the methods I’ve been using for various adjustments, and will share these as I blog the garments.

Today it’s the turn of the Kalle shirt and the dartless FBA. The first Kalle I made was technically a toile, but as it fitted pretty well I treat it as a normal shirt. However, one minor issue was gaping at the bust, and so I decided to do an FBA in the second, watercolour floral version. As with many things in sewing, there are many different ways to do an FBA. Amy at the Splendid Stitch recently blogged on this topic, and showed that the different methods result in very different pattern pieces.

You’re not seeing things – my shirt has no buttons as I sewed the button band shut

Thankfully, Heather at Closet Case Patterns has a great tutorial on dartless FBAs as part of the sewalong. She explains how to add a dart, or the approach to take if you’d like to keep the dartless look. I love the aesthetic of the shirt, and so I went for the dartless version. Although the tutorial was easy to follow, I then struggled making adjustments to the facings.

My Frankenstein pattern piece – post-alteration

The facings

FBAs typically add width and length to the front of your garment and this is where I had problems.

The width should only be needed in the bust area, and so if possible can be taken away in the rest of the piece. This isn’t always easy though. In a dress, can be taken our with a waist-dart, or added to the skirt – in a shirt it’s more difficult to take away. As the Kalle is designed to be a loose-fitting garment, I decided to leave the width as it was in the shirt. I then lengthened the front facing piece. I didn’t do this quite correctly – I widened it too much, not taking into account the button band. It was easy enough to fix this though, I just cut it shorter as I sewed.


The part where I really went wrong related to the change in length of the front piece. The front and back facing pieces, together with the front and back shirt pieces, have points to show where you stop sewing the side seam on the shirt pieces, and where the front facing and back facing pieces meet. As you can see in the photo below, I lowered this point on the front piece, but kept it in the same place in the back.


I did this because I based it on the front facing piece without a length adjustment. This was the mistake – I should have also lengthened the front facing piece to match the increased length of the shirt. It meant that the front facing piece wasn’t long enough to reach the same point on the back piece. So, I had to get creative…

This is the part where I reveal the innards of my makes…

In true sew slow Sarah style, after discovering this piece was too short, I sulked, procrastinated, and sulked some more. Eventually, I decided that the best fix that I could do would be to cut through the facing piece, and add an extra chunk of fabric. The only place I could really do this without it being visible from the right side meant that I had to create a curve.


I improvised this as I went along, as I wasn’t really sure what I needed to do! And so I couldn’t tidy the edge of every single piece. It’s a bit messy on one side. But the other side is a bit cleaner.


Although it’s not the tidiest fix, as I wasn’t really sure what had gone wrong, I learned as I sewed. And I have now altered the facing piece so that it fits properly on my next cropped Kalle.


So, that was a closer look at the insides of my Kalle shirt. I really love this pattern, and for my next version, the key adjustment will be to make it a little less cropped. I’ve lengthened by 3 inches, as this one is a little too short to be worn with anything but my high-waisted trousers. I’ll try to actually sew on the buttons and button-holes on the next version too!

Hmmm, I think my next Kalle needs to be a little less cropped!

I’ll be sharing more pattern adjustments with you soon.

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