Full Bust Adjustment Guide | Giant FBA on a Dartless Knit Bodice (aka: Adding a Dart When You Need One)

The deal with Giant full bust adjustments

Being pregnant, my boobs have grown 6 inches in the last 6 months — I’ve gone from a garment sewing DD or F cup to a garment sewing K cup. (Remember that bra cups aren’t the same as your garment sewing cup size! Learn more about determining your garment sewing cup size here!)

Even with the ~80 designers on the Busty Pattern Database who draft for larger cup sizes or offer cup options, only one offers a cup option that fits me — Porcelynne’s I/J cup in her tank series is just right.

So full bust adjustments and I have become best friends lately. And not just small, 2-3″ FBAs, but BIG HONKIN FBAs. Even on a DD garment cup size pattern — the largest cup size offered by a substantial number of designers — I need a 6″ full bust adjustment (3″ per side). On a B cup pattern — the size that most designers draft for — I need a 9″ FBA (4.5″ per side).

The trouble? No fitting book or FBA tutorial I’ve seen really gets into what it looks like when you’re adding this much.

Which is annoying because it looks different. It can look a lot different.

So I’m going to start showing you what my FBAs look like when I’m adding 6-9″ to my patterns.

Fitting the Perfect Maternity Tee

This particular FBA was inspired by my search for a perfect maternity tee — partially because I need a lot of new shirts right now, and partially because I’m planning a bodycon style dress for my baby shower, and I needed a base pattern.

I started with the Agnes Maternity Top from Tilly & the Buttons (which also has a non-maternity version), but this tutorial can easily be used for any number of dartless knit top patterns, such as the Cashmerette Concord, Itch to Stitch Glenelly, or the Laela Jeyne Indigo Bodysuit.

Do I have to add a dart?

Okay, I’m really sorry. But I have bad news. Yes, if the difference between your high and full bust is more than, say, 7″ (17.8 cm), you’re probably going to need to add a dart, even to a knit bodice — especially if you’re hoping for a fitted look.

If you’re okay with the bodice being a more loose fit at the waist, you might be able to get away with rotating the dart out and easing the side seam — a process we’re not going to get into today. But, if you want a fitted look, it will be simply impossible to ease your front and back side seams together after adding so much. (Trust me, I tried. A lot. It doesn’t work.)

That said, I really don’t think the dart is super noticeable, and I promise it’s less noticeable than the armpit wrinkles that result from ill-fitting knit tops. (Tell me if you think the dart is noticeable in this side view!)

Getting prepared for your FBA

Choosing a base size

We’ve talked about this before, but I want you to start with your high bust measurement, braless. (The reason we take this measurement braless is because you’re trying to capture as little breast tissue in it as possible, and bras push breast tissue up!)

If you’re working with a pattern that lists high bust measurements on its size chart, that’s great! The work is done for you! Choose your size based on the one that corresponds with your high bust measurement.

But, if your pattern is like the T&B Agnes, you’ll need to do a little math, which will require you to know what garment cup size the pattern is drafted for. In my case, I reached out to T&B and was told that their maternity patterns are drafted for a D garment cup — 4″ difference between high and full bust. So I knew I needed to add 4″ to my high bust measurement. (If you’re working with a usual pattern with a B cup draft, you’ll add 2″ to your high bust measurement.)

For me the math looked like this: 35″ + 4″ = 39″

This number should then correspond with the bust measurement on the pattern.

On the Maternity Agnes, this put me between a size 4 and 5. Because I wanted a more fitted look, I went with a size 4.

How do I know how much to add? Math time!

On a woven garment, this is easy. If the Maternity Agnes were woven, I’d simply take my full bust measurement minus the full bust measurement for which it is drafted, and that would tell me how much to add. Divide this by two, and you get how much you need to add per side.

For example:
My bust: 46″
– Drafted bust: 38″
= 8″
Divided by two (since there are two sides to a front bodice!) — 4″ per side

However, I don’t like to do things this way for knitted/stretch patterns. My reluctance comes from the fact that stretch percentages mean you’re really adding more. For example, if your fabric has a 50% stretch, adding 4″ total is really adding a maximum of 6″, while adding 8″ total is really adding a maximum of 12″ — that’s a 6″ difference in maximum stretch for what’s supposed to be a 4″ difference. This problem is exponential, so the larger your FBA the more skewed things can end up being by simply adding inches like you would with a woven.

So I like to look at percentages. Enter the finished garment measurements.

For the size 4 I’m making, the finished bust measurement is 36.5″. It’s drafted for a 38″ bust. I want to figure out what this is as a percentage, so I’ll take 36.5 divided by 38 to get 96% — meaning this is drafted for 4% negative ease.

Now, I need to figure out what 96% of my full bust is: 46″ times 96% (0.96) = 44.16″. I’m going to go ahead and round that down to 44 to give me a nice even number (and I can confidently do that because I know my knit stretches plenty to cover a .16″ reduction). This is what I need my finished bust measurement to be: 44″.

Next, I’ll need to figure out how many inches that has me adding, so I’ll subtract the pattern’s finished bust measurement from my own needed finished bust measurement: 44″ minus 36.5″ = 7.5″. This shows me I need a total of a 7.5″ FBA, so 3.25″ per side.

If reading this is confusing and you’d like to see a video version, I walked through this process on instagram live here!

Doing the FBA

Finding your apex

Now that you’ve done your math, you can get working with your pattern! Here’s what my pattern looked like before I made any changes:

You’ll notice there’s no apex marked on this pattern. No worries! We’re going to find our own apex.

Put on a top that’s made from a fabric with a similar stretch percentage. Using washi tape, mark where your bust is fullest — this is sometimes the nipple, but not always. Look for the “peak” of your “mountain.”

(My washi tape is really lightly colored! I apologize that it’s hard to see here!)

Now, take off this top and fold it at center front. Lay the folded top under the front bodice pattern, matching the shoulder seam and center front (being mindful that seam allowances mean your pattern should slightly overhang the shirt).

You can see my washi tape through the pattern paper. This is where I’m going to mark my apex.

Preparing the pattern

Now that we’ve marked the apex, we’re going to cut the pattern at the waistline. On the Agnes, the waistline (or, in this case since it’s a maternity pattern, the empire waist) happens to be at the lengthen/shorten line, but this may not always be the case. Cut the pattern at the narrowest part and put the bottom of the pattern aside. We’ll come back to it later. (If you’re working with a bodice pattern that ends at the waist, great! No need to cut at this step.)

Now, we need to make some markings. First, draw a vertical line, parallel with your grain line, from the bottom of your pattern to the apex. We’ll call this Line A.

Now, draw a second line from your apex to about 1/3 of the way down the armscye. We’ll call this Line B.

Some tutorials will tell you to put this mark lower on the armscye. While this works for those who need to add fewer inches, for larger FBAs, putting this line low on the armscye causes too much armscye distortion, so higher is better.

Important: At Line B, mark your seam allowance. This will be very important at a later step.

Third, you need to draw a line from your apex to the side seam. This is Line C.

You can really put this anywhere along your side seam that you’d like, but keep in mind that where you place it on the side seam will essentially end up being the top of your bust dart. I like to make mine slightly angle upward, but only slightly. If I wanted a fully horizontal dart, I’d need to make this perpendicular to my grain line.

Finally, mark a Line D perpendicular to Line A about an inch above your waistline.

Cutting the Lines

Now it’s time to start cutting! But, before we do, do yourself a favor and stick a piece of scotch tape on your apex and on the seam allowance mark at the armscye.

Okay, now, starting from the bottom of the bodice, cut upward through Line A to the apex, then from the apex through Line B — stopping at the seam allowance mark. From the opposite side, starting from the armscye, cut through Line B, again stopping at the seam allowance mark.

Your pattern should be hanging on by a thread of paper at the seam allowance mark, allowing you to pivot at this point.

Now, starting at the side seam, cut through Line C, cutting to but not through the apex — creating another pivot point where the paper is holding on by a thread.

Your pattern will look like this:

Adding inches

Now it’s time to add some inches! I like to tape down the center front side of my pattern (on this pattern, the right side of the picture) along Line A onto another piece of pattern paper. I then draw a line however many inches from Line A on the extra pattern paper:

This line gives me something to line up the side seam side of Line A with, which is the next step.

Pulling the side seam side (here, the left of the photo) down and out to match that side of Line A with the line you just drew.

Note: You’ll see I’m only adding 3.5″ here, though earlier I said I needed a 7.5″ FBA, so 3.75″ per side. Well, that was a mistake. But since the pattern uses fabric with at least 50% stretch, I decided to just rock a bit more negative ease and not worry about it.

Evaluating Armscye Distortion

So this is what my FBA would look like. If I was adding fewer inches, I’d tape it down and call this my new pattern, essentially. But I’m adding a lot of inches, so I need to evaluate something first: How much did my armscye get distorted?

Depending on the pattern, the armscye distortion might be minimal and totally okay! In this case, tape everything down and use this as your pattern!

But, as you can see here, I got a lot of armscye distortion. It’s basically a J pattern, and I know that’s going to be super uncomfortable. But there’s a solution!

Doing the Y FBA

We’re going to add one more line. Draw a line from the apex to the middle of the shoulder seam — usually there’s a notch here, and if so, use that! This will be Line E.

Just like with Line B, you need to mark the seam allowance on Line E.

Now, cut from the apex along Line E to but not through the seam allowance mark. Then cut from the top of the shoulder along Line E to but not through the seam allowance mark, creating a pivot point with a thread of paper at the seam allowance.

Again, spread down and out to match the side seam side of Line A with the marker you created earlier to show how many inches you’re adding.

At this point, you need to decide how much of the added inches you want coming from the armscye versus the shoulder/high bust area. In the above slides, you can see how you can manipulate where things lay to have more of the added inches be along Line B or along Line E.

This is all about knowing your body. Adding more to Line E — like in the second picture — prevents more armscye distortion, but adds more width at the high bust/chest. Adding more to Line B — like in the third picture — creates more armscye distortion, but doesn’t add as much at the high bust/chest. Or you can choose something like the first picture, with roughly equal amounts distributed between Line B and Line E.

I don’t like to have too much added at the upper bust for my body, so I lean toward adding more to Line B than Line E — adding just enough to line E to avoid significant armscye distortion. I went with something like the third picture.

Once you have everything where you want it, go ahead and tape everything down, just being sure not to tape along Line A below Line D.

Adjusting length

Now we need to bring the center front down to the level of the side bodice. Extend Line A on the center front side down to be even with your new waistline from the side seam side, and draw a horizontal guideline at the same level as your new waistline on the side seam side.

Now, cut along Line D, completely detaching that bottom piece. Tape this down along the guidelines you just created, like so:

This is what we have so far, and we’re pretty much there!

Finishing Touches

Smoothing the armscye

Now we need to smooth out the armscye. You can do this by eye (which is honestly what I usually do), or break out your French curve to do it *technically* correct.

At this point, I like to drop my armscye just *a tiny bit* — like 1/4 to 3/8″ — making sure the armscye remains the same total length by measuring where I’ve dropped it.

Drawing your new dart

You now need to draw your new dart. Start by measuring the opening of the triangle you’ve created, and marking the center point.

Now, draw a line from this center mark on the dart to the apex. You’ll see here I moved my apex a bit. This was an experiment, and I wouldn’t recommend it. Just use the apex you marked — since the dot has been divided, choose the one on the center front part of your pattern.

Now, mark a spot along this center dart line some inches from your apex. The number of inches depends on the size of your bust. Here’s what I’d recommend as a starting place:

I+ garment cup9″+ (22.85 cm+) full/high bust difference2.5″ (6.35 cm)
G-H garment cup7-8″ (17.8-20.3 cm) full/high bust difference2″ (5 cm)
DD/E-F garment cup5-6″ (12.7-15.2 cm) full/high bust difference1.5″ (3.8 cm)
D garment cup or smaller4″ or less (10.2 cm) full/high bust difference1″ (2.5 cm)

So I made my mark 2.5″ back from the apex. This will be my vanishing point, or where the dart will actually end. You usually don’t want the dart ending too close to your apex, because this will make your bust look verrrrry pointy. (If pointy is the look you’re going for, then make your vanishing point closer to your apex!)

Now, you’re just going to connect this vanishing point to your dart legs. This is your finished dart!

Note: Do you need to split your dart? I answer this question visually. My dart was about 6″ long and 3-5/8″ wide, and, looking at it, I thought it would sew up fine. If your dart looks really wide, you may want to split it into two darts. This post goes over the how-to on splitting darts.

Truing the Side seam

We now must true our side seam. To do this, fold your dart as if it was being sewn. I prefer to have my dart go upward rather than pressing it down, as most instructions indicate. I find this makes a smoother line for larger busts. (Thanks to Cashmerette for the tip several years ago!)

You can either fold your dart up or down. It’s up to you.

I like to tape this shut using washi tape, so it stays closed while I deal with my side seam, but using a tape that won’t rip the paper when I remove it.

Use your French curve or eyeball a slightly curved line, connecting the armscye to the lower side seam.

You’ll see that I had a big jump from the upper to lower side seam. Since you can always remove but can’t add, I chose to go with the outer side seam — so the placement of the lower side seam. It’s worth noting, however, that I ended up skimming about 3/8″ off this spot when I sewed my muslin, so I probably could have/should have gone with the smaller of the lines — where the side seam is on the upper part.

Truing your waist

As you may recall, you’ve added inches (in my case, 3.5″) to your bust level down — including your waist. Well, if the waist was the correct size on the original pattern and you want the bodice to be fitted at the waist, this isn’t going to work. We need to reduce the waist.

On a woven, this would be easier. I’d recommend taking a bit from the side seam and adding a waist dart or two.

But here, I didn’t want to add a waist dart. This is a tee shirt after all! So it’s going to have to all come from the side seam.

To do this, mark along the waistline 3.5″ (or however many inches you added in your FBA) inward from the side seam. Draw an S curve, starting at your bust height and ending at your waist marker, like this:

You can do this with a French curve or by eye. I started with my French curve and ended by eye, which is why my line is so ugly 😂

I also had a bit of an extra challenge because I was making this with an empire waist rather than a natural waist, so that gave me less space to gradually skim off the side seam than you’d have using a natural waist. If you’re using a natural waist, this line shouldn’t look quite so angular.

Now, to finish truing the dart, cut along this line:

Open your dart back up, and you’ll see your finished side seam!

Reconnecting with lower pattern

Now our last step is to reconnect our upper pattern with our lower pattern!

Essentially, you just need to match your lower pattern to your upper at the side seam and center front.

At this point, I also do a bit more truing of the side seam and cut it out:

You’re finished!

Yay! All done! Here’s my finished pattern piece:

Now cut and sew the pattern as usual. If you have an extreme angled side seam like me, it might be worth reinforcing the side seam at that point with some seam tape or elastic, just to add some strength since the force of the fabric is a bit wonky there.

I feel pretty awesome about this pattern! I can’t wait to sew up my baby shower dress 🙂

If you follow Sew Busty on instagram, you’ll know that I ended up needing to tweak the sleeve for my fuller biceps, but the bust was on point!

One Pattern, Two Bodies (Plus a Pregnancy Hack and FBA!): Chalk & Notch Fringe Dress – Lindsie’s Take

It’s always super fun to see how one pattern sews up for people with very different body types, so I’m excited to show you another collaboration between me and Camilla (she_sew_fabulous on Insta)!

Just like last time, when we made the Love Notions Sunday Romper, Camilla and I chose one pattern — one that comes with a two bust options — and each made it up to see how it works on our bodies! This time, we chose the Chalk & Notch Fringe Dress. This pattern comes with both a B cup and a D cup draft. (Remember that garment sewing cups are not the same as bra cups! Check out this post to learn more!)

(See Camilla’s take here!)

I was excited to try this pattern because I’ve heard it works great on pregnant bodies, but will also work postpartum, including while nursing thanks to the button front!

I currently describe my body type as HUGE boobs, big pregnancy belly, and medium-size hips. (My current measurements are high bust: 35″; full bust: 46″; underbust: 32″; waist (lol preggo belly!): 39″; hips: 40″.) Camilla, on the other hand, describes herself as “a Mediterranean gal with big hips and small boobs.”

Camilla talks about how she chose her size over on her post, so go check it out!

For me, I chose to make view A, which has the nursing-friendly button front — while Camilla made a view B. I used a fun cotton poplin from Mood.

I started with a size 10 with the D cup draft, going based on my high bust. The size 10D accounts for a 39″ bust, with 3″ of positive ease for a finished bust measurement of 42″. I was obviously going to need a full bust adjustment.

The full bust adjustment

Based on measurements, a 7″ FBA would keep the ease consistent. I thought about reducing the positive ease at the bust and doing a smaller FBA, but ultimately ruled out that plan when I thought about the fact that my milk hasn’t come in, and I’d like to wear this dress for nursing. So a BIG HUGE SEVEN INCH full bust adjustment it was (3.5″ or 8.9 cm on each side).

I’m not going to do a full FBA tutorial here, because it really was just a straight forward woven FBA with a dart split, but I’ll include the instagram stories I did on this FBA just to give you a peek at my process:

If you look closely, you’ll see that I also moved the bust point down by about 1″ while doing the FBA. Note that the FBA actually lowered the bust point by about 1.5″ and to the side by about 1.25″, but, when I held the tissue to myself, I could see that my bust point was in line with the original bust point, just about 1″ lower. When I reoriented the darts, I just oriented them toward my bust point. There’s a more technically correct way of doing this, which involves cutting the darts and moving them up, but because of how wide my darts are and how close they were to the armscye, I decided to “cheat” a little.

(If you notice in these pictures that the darts look a smidge high, that’s because I’m wearing a different bra than the one I altered in … c’est la vie!)

I had to split both my bust and waist darts, because they were looking GIANT.

Also of note is that my FBA added 3-3/8″ length to the bodice at center front. This is important for my belly alteration:

Hacking for pregnancy

My next alteration was to tweak the pattern for my current shape. That is, I didn’t want the waist hitting at my belly, but instead at my underbust. I measured from shoulder point to underbust on my body and on the pattern, and found that I needed to shorten the pattern about 1.75″ from it’s new, post-FBA length for it to hit at the empire waist.

So I chopped it at the lengthen/shorten line. Because you can always take away, but not add, I decided to only shorten by 1.5″.

Now, I had added 3.375″ with the FBA then removed 1.5″, so I needed to lengthen my button placket and front facing by 1-7/8″ (the difference between 3.375-1.5).

I also shortened my back by 1.5″ along the lengthen/shorten line.

Solving other giant boob-related problems

If you follow me, you probably know I’m usually #teamnotoile, meaning I rarely make muslins. Most of the time, I’ll use my bodice sloper to make flat pattern alterations, and I’m frankly not obsessed with perfect fit when I can more easily obtain good enough fit with less work.

Buuuuut, in this case, since I had added a honkin’ 7″ to the bust and chopped 1.5″ off the full bodice, I decided I needed to make a muslin of the bodice. It was a good thing.

I was absolutely chuffed at the fit. Loved it. Needed a skirt to weigh it down, but goodness the darts were pretty perfect!

Until I realized something. I had to put it on like a button-down shirt, one arm and then the other. If I pinned it together at the waist, I couldn’t get it on. Not over my bust, nor over my belly.

You see, this pattern is intended to be pulled on. The finished waist at a size 10D is 35″ — just enough to eek over the 39″ bust it was drafted for. But I had added 7″ to that, and a 35″ waist wasn’t going to eek over my 46″ of bust.

So I had to pivot. I ended up removing the waist darts on both front and back (trust me, I’m mourning this too! love those darts!), and decided to elasticate the waist instead.

The pattern & fit

This was my first Chalk & Notch pattern, and I WILL BE BACK. The pattern went together SO BEAUTIFULLY. I often have problems with facings not quite matching, and that wasn’t an issue here at all. The whole thing was just so well drafted, and I think it would have been an easier sew if I had opted for view B, which has simpler sleeves and no buttons.

Honestly, I’m excited to sew this up again with the waist darts (what can I say?! I just love darts!) once either my boobs have settled back to pre-pregnancy size, when I would have needed just a 1.5″ FBA, or when I have the energy to add a zipper.

I love the button front on this pattern, and that there’s no gaping! I also love that this will allow me to nurse in this dress when the time comes.

Also, the sleeves. I wasn’t actually sure I was going to love the sleeves, but they’ve really grown on me. I used vintage buttons throughout, and I just love the little pop of pearlescent that they give my shoudlers.

The best thing about this dress, though? THE POCKETS, obviously.

As you can see, I did add a waist tie for just a bit more waist definition, because the elastic wasn’t quite defining my waist as much as I’d like. Again, can’t wait to make this again with darts. But here it is without the waist tie, for those wondering:

One Pattern, Two Bodies: Chalk & Notch Fringe Dress – Camilla’s Take

Hello! It’s Camilla here (also known as @she_sew_fabulous). If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know how much I love making dresses. I don’t make them as often anymore as I now have hundreds of them, so I was delighted for the opportunity to make one for the purpose of this blog. It’s always a delight to work with Lindsie, so I approached this project with a big smile on my face and was eager to get started.

(See Lindsie’s take here!)

When Lindsie and I discussed what pattern to make, we wanted to ensure it was a pattern that would work for both of our body shapes, so we opted for the Chalk and Notch ‘Fringe Dress’.

My body measurements are bust 38 inches, waist 33 inches and hip 40 inches, so I decided to make a size 14 as I hate it when dresses are tight. I love a bit of wiggle room and the option to accessorise with a belt if I want a dress to be more cinched, or billowy if it’s hot and I want to keep cool, so I have both here. 

This is the first Chalk and Notch pattern I’ve made and I must say that I really enjoyed doing it : the instructions are really clear and the final product lovely : check out that asymmetric hemline – love!! I opted to make the button free version as I had just finished the quite complex Eden raincoat by Tilly and the Buttons and couldn’t deal with the added stress of buttonholes – I wanted something simple! And can I just take a moment to gag over this fabric : I picked it up from a destash page on Instagram and it’s so lovely, it just makes the pattern wonderfully summery and reminds me of the dresses I used to buy from Oasis when I was in my twenties that always made me feel chic and fabulous. 

Last time that Lindsie and I made a ‘one pattern on two bodies’ garment, it was the Love Notions Sunday Romper, and at that time I was going through a bit of a downer about my size. I’ve put on weight over the last two years, like many of us and I was feeling a bit rubbish about it last summer. Fast forward to this year and I’m actually really happy with my size. Yes, I still have the extra roll here and there that I could do without, but it doesn’t detract from the way I feel about myself. One thing I love about the sewing community is the constant exposure to different body shapes, which has, over time, made me far more accepting about my shape. When I wear a dress like this, I feel gorgeous : it’s light and summery and dare I say it, looks like it cost a lot of money to buy ready made; so all those things considered, I’m not worried about the extra lumps and bumps here and there because I feel great. 

I highly recommend this pattern to any level of sewist as it’s really simple and comes together quite quickly. Furthermore, it’s really versatile : you can make it casual, you can make it fancy, you can dress it up, you can dress it down. It’s great for any occasion and I foresee myself getting a lot of wear out of this one. 

Thanks for the opportunity to make this lovely pattern Lindsie, I really enjoyed this project and I foresee many more Fringe Dresses (probably with some hacks included) making their way into my wardrobe in the future!

Community Blog | Bra Making | Petite Stitchery Colby Bralette with LC Courtney

Hello Sew Busty! I am LC Courtney and I’m here to guest post and chronicle my modifications on the Petite Stitchery Colby bralette. I am outside the size range for the largest cup — a 5 inch difference — as I have a 6.5 inch difference between my upper and full bust. My best fitting RTW bra is the Elomi Matilda in 38 H. My chest tissue is full on bottom, shallow on top, and gravitates into my armpit area if left unsupported.

Hopefully I can share something that you can find useful in your own bra making adventure! 

Before we get too far, I am by no means a bra sewing extraordinaire. I have plenty of education in trial and error though. I’ve dabbled in sewing for a little over a decade and have dyscalculia. If you are searching for a post with super technical math formulas I am not your person. 

Onto the good stuff. My first version of the Colby turned out beautifully but after wearing it for some amount of time, the band tended to migrate up under my bust and the top of the band sat near the bottom of my chest tissue. The strap seam was pulling too far forward as well.

The fix seamed (ha!) easy enough. It was fairly evident that I needed more material at the bottom of the bra. Using a soft tape, I determined that the seam migrated up about 2 inches up from where it needed to actually sit. Because we know in sewing that you can always cut off more but not really add it back, I added the entire 2 inches to the bottom of the Colby pattern pieces, knowing I might need to cut a little off later.

A little paper, some tracing skills, and a Sharpie gave way for a more generous pattern. 

Like my original version, I chose double brushed poly for both my main and lining fabric.

On this one, I added a layer of mesh in the side cup portion to encourage my breasts to stay closer to the front of my chest and not migrate toward my armpit. I’m happy with the extra support this choice provided. When I make another, Colby I will add the mesh to the back pieces as well.

*Quick tip- a glue stick can be your friend here. Glue your mesh to your desired pattern pieces and treat it as one. 

If there is one takeaway I can give you for this pattern it is- DO NOT SKIP THE CLEAR ELASTIC, I repeat … DO NOT SKIP THE CLEAR ELASTIC (silicone elastin if you want to Google search and purchase some for your sewing stash).

I prefer the elastin over the thicker swimsuit elastic you can buy. I put clear elastic into every single seam with the exception of the neckline & where I joined the bottom band prior to folding it over.

You won’t stretch the elastic while you are sewing, but are using it to really reinforce the seams. I have a Brother serger and there is a little hole in the presser foot you can feed the elastic into and it really makes adding it a breeze. If you don’t have a Brother, I believe there are similar feet you can order for the same purpose. You’ll get a much sturdier finished garment using the clear elastic.

I missed taking a fit photo here, but when I sewed up the bralette layers, it was pretty clear I should have considered the vertical stretch a little more and only added about 1.5 inches to the pattern pieces. I cut off .5 all the way across the bottom. This ended up changing the depth of the V on the back but I’ll chalk this up to a happy accident because I’m really pleased with the back. 

A couple of other design/construction details ahead: I opted to add a small flutter sleeve in lieu of burrito rolling and having un-frilly armsyces. I also used my sewing machine instead of serger for the neckline only. It was easier to keep the V detail crisp(ish) on my sewing machine. I love my serger but crisp points isn’t something it excels at. 

Without any more of my chatter, here is the finished product:

I’m looking forward to making a few more Colbys over the summer in various materials and possibly one in swim. If you have a go at your own Colby, I’d love to see! Please tag me on socials. LC Courtney on Facebook & @lccourtneyy on Instagram. 

Thank you to Lindsie and the Sew Busty Community for having me here. Happy sewing!

LC Courtney (she/her) is a desert dwelling sewist. She enjoys sewing knits and listening to podcasts. You can find her on Instagram @lccourtneyy.

Busty Pattern Review + Pattern Launch | Yawning Mama Nursing Mama and Empress Bralette

Ever since I became pregnant, there’s been a shift in my sewing. For one, I’m getting a lot less sewing done, unfortunately (working on it!). For two, I’m having to focus less on patterns with cup options, and more on patterns that will serve my changing body.

This means out with the underwire bras (which I’m still salty about! I miss them 😭) and in with the stretchy bralettes. (With a healthy dose of baby powder to prevent between-boob yeast infections, because that’s a thing, y’all.)

I’ve been struggling to find a nursing bra pattern that comes in my size. The ever-popular Lotus Bralette from LilypaDesigns, which has a built-in nursing option, is a smidge too-small for my current 14″ full bust to underbust difference. And while Lilypad’s Lanai Wireless bra, which also has a nursing option, comes in my size, I’m reluctant to work out a non-stretchy bra pattern right now. (The last time I tried to make a non-stretchy bra, it fit one week and then didn’t fit the next, which was SO FRUSTRATING! Growing boobs are HARD.)

So when Yawning Mama, a fairly new pattern brand, did a call for testers of their new set of bralette patterns, including both a nursing AND a pumping bra (which might be the first pumping bra pattern on the market!), I jumped at the opportunity.

Oh! The Options!

This bra pattern comes with so many options. For those who are breast/chestfeeding, the Nursing Mama Bra (yeah, I don’t love the gendered language either), the Cross-Front Bra, and the Pumping Mama Bra are all boob-access friendly. The Nursing Mama and Pumping Mama bras have options for side slings or full slings, giving the maker options based on your individual preferences.

For those who aren’t feeding a babe (or, in my case, about to!), the Cross-Front Bra and Empress Bralette are both great options.

Both the breast/chestfeeding bras and the non-nursing bras can be made into a camisole (including maternity option!), tankini, or tunic using the cami add-on pack.

Let’s Talk About Sizing

Alright, now let’s talk about sizing. When I first saw the size chart, I was unconvinced that this pattern would work for me, and I bet some of you are similarly skeptical.

My current underbust is 32.5″ (82.5 cm) and my current full bust is 46″ (116.8 cm). So, based on this size chart, my underbust is a size small. But the biggest cup size for a small — the green cup — is only for a 43.5″ (110.5 cm) full bust, a full 2.5″ (6.4 cm) smaller than my full bust measurement. So I asked “uhhhh, hey, sooooo how will this fit me?”

The designer, Danielle, was super helpful. She instructed me to choose the small size for the back and underbust, but to choose the medium green cups — if I wanted it to fit snugly — or the large green cups — if I wanted some more room to grow. Since my milk has yet to come in, I chose to use the large green cups.

My First Toile

For my first go at this bra, I used some cotton spandex that Yawning Mama had sent for tests (shout out to designers who provide materials for testers!). The only pattern change I made was to make an omega adjustment to the dart, making the dart 1″ wider at the bottom.

It … did not work.

I mean, it wasn’t horrible, but this bra had almost no support, and the darts were about an inch too far to each side for the placement of my apex. The side seams are also about 1″ too far back.

This bra works pretty well as a sleep bra (which apparently I need to get acquainted with before baby comes, since I usually sleep braless!), but not so much for day-to-day wear.

But I could tell that this bra was promising, we just weren’t quite there.

So I prepared to make some changes:

  • Move the darts inward by 1″ by removing 2″ from center front fold
  • Use activewear nylon spandex for more support
  • Use 1″ elastic at band instead of 1/4″ elastic for more underbust support
  • Keep the 1″ enlargement of darts

Making It Work for a Busty Body

Now, I’ll quickly note that all of these changes are ones I’d strongly suggest for the small band, large cup among us, and for even the large band, large cup busty folks, I’d highly suggest using a fabric with a firmer stretch and more recovery and using 1″ elastic at the band.

Made as-directed, this bra really isn’t appropriate for busty folks who seek lots of support for a day-to-day bra. If you’re into lots of comfort and just want something to keep your twins from flailing around, by all means, make this bra as instructed — some people prefer that kind of fit! But if, like me, you want a bra that holds you up, make these changes.

Because the pattern doesn’t have larger cups drafted for a small band, for example, I wasn’t super surprised to find that the darts were in entirely the wrong place, since the large green cups likely anticipated my breasts would be wider rather than projected.

This goes back to the issue of breast shape that we see in underwire bra making — we all know that I’m narrow-rooted and projected, and that most bra patterns anticipate my breasts being much wider than they are. But, in a simple bralette like this, it’s not a change that’s drastically hard to make.

My Final Bra

Armed with a handful of changes and fabric with a firmer stretch and better recovery — my old favorite sports bra nylon spandex from Porcelynne — I had another go.

This one fits so much better. It’s supportive, though not as supportive as an underwire bra (or probably even as my Porcelynne sports bras), but this may have more to do with the fact that I sized up instead of down in the cup to account for more growth down the line.

Overall, I definitely plan to make more of this pattern. I’ve been mostly wearing Molke bras since becoming pregnant, so I’m also curious to try the Cross-Front bra from this pattern set.

I also love the full sling option, and I think I’ll also give a go at adding this sling to a Porcelynne Jackie bra pattern, since that pattern seems to lend just a smidge more support.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Using the affiliate links in Sew Busty posts is a great way to support the costs of running Sew Busty, as when you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. This helps me pay for the hosting, domain, design, and other costs associated with administering this site. All opinions remain my own.

Community Blog | Getting My Sewjo Back, Is It Possible? with Kerri

Well, here I am on the up turn of a long and dreadful lack of inspiration. Have you ever just felt,…. blah?

Lacking motivation, deprioritizing the things that make you happy?

That is the head space I have been living in for months, and it simply felt like it had no end in sight.
So, how do you get out of this perpetual state? I find most of the time I must fake it. Find even the
smallest sliver of joy and run with it. The way I most often do this is to start small. Find a very simple but beautiful pattern and just make something. It’s a start.

Kerri wears a periwinkle blue dress

Often when I force myself to start with a small project it can reinvigorate me and create that spark. We all just need a little spark sometimes, right?

To see if I could bring my joy back, I decided I would make one dress. Seemed simple enough, baby steps. Let me tell you it worked!

I chose the Arum Dress Pattern from Deer and Doe. This dress has called to me for some time. There is something to be said for a classic piece with a flattering silhouette. The Arum Dress is a woven pattern that features a dolman sleeve, back princess seams and two different length options. I find that dolman style patterns flatter those that are larger up top. After reviewing the measurement chart, I was surprised to find that I measured a straight size 44. No adjustments needed. I find this to be a rare occurrence for me as a 32 G.

To hone in on what I was trying to accomplish I made it exactly the way it was intended.

For my first Arum I used the Wine Paths print rayon that I picked up from Phee Fabrics. It has a nice stripe pattern that I knew would flatter my figure. I chose to position the stripes so they would run vertical on my finished piece. I knew this would also alleviate some frustration in the stripe matching process. My choices paid off, it was perfect!

After making the first dress I thought, could this be made in bases outside of the recommendations?

This thought led me down a positive path and it made me want to test my theory.

This time I made the dress in a wonderful Art Gallery Lemon print cotton spandex blend. I knew
choosing this fabric would pose some challenges, particularly because this pattern has a neck facing instead of bands. It made me wonder, should I convert the neck facing to a more traditional knit band?

After some thought I knew it was not the look that I wanted, I really wanted the same clean look as my previous dress. I figured it couldn’t hurt to do the facing exactly as I had done before, what’s there to lose? For this I needed patience and oh, so many pins. To my disbelief it came together like butter.

My confidence now restored and gears turning I pondered, can I make it work in rayon spandex too? My third dress was a rayon spandex rib knit, in a bright sunny yellow. I knew this fabric choice was risky as it has an abundance of movement but again, I pushed through. Sticking to a very similar process as the dress prior. Pinning and pinning some more. I really had no faith this would work, but it worked again.

With my sewjo now fully intact, I decided to make just one more.

For the last dress I went with a more muted but classic choice, using a lovely lightweight denim, a fabric closer to the original recommendations. Knowing I had previously put myself to the test with more finicky fabrics this one came together smoother than I imagined. From beginning to end, it only took 1 hour! It was exactly what I needed to come full circle.

Now fully invigorated, I can’t help but feel inspiration all around me.

Taking a small step approach works! It can work for something as complex as depression, all the way down to simpler day to day frustrations. You can take something simple and turn it into a wealth of inspiration. I know starting something at all can seem too big a task at times, but it is these simple actions that create momentum. Baby steps start us down the path to finding ourselves. Simply knowing that hobbies can be the outlet you need to find your joy and bring back that spark is sometimes all it takes!

Happy sewing and may your sewjo be forever in your favor!

Kerri is a sewist with about 5 years of experience. She is a mom of 3, a lover of fashion and all things vintage. She puts her heart and soul into everything she does and that is why she is so in love sewing: She can make things that are uniquely her! Find all of Kerri’s makes on Instagram @sewsewwonderful

Full Bust Adjustment Guide | Gathered Bodice FBA

If you’ve followed me for a while, you probably know I LOVE a good jumpsuit. I know a lot of people are anti-jumpsuit because they have to get naked to go to the bathroom or whatever, but, to be completely honest, IDGAF. I love them. They’re ultimate comfort.

So, when I found out I was pregnant, I immediately knew I needed to make myself a maternity jumpsuit. Onto a pattern search!

I checked all my normal busty-friendly designers: Designer Stitch, Itch to Stitch, Cashmerette. None of them had a maternity jumpsuit (or really many maternity patterns at all! Cashmerette has a few, but they don’t yet come in her smaller size band, which is where my upper bust falls). I went through the Busty Pattern Database hoping for a good option, and, alas, didn’t find one.

So I got desperate and I went to etsy: “maternity jumpsuit pattern.” And I found this:

Butterick 6226. Maternity jumpsuit of my dreams.

I immediately ordered the pattern. The only problem? I’d have to do an FBA. And, not just a simple, darted FBA. A gathered bodice FBA.

Thank goodness I had done this before, because the results were amazing! I love this jumpsuit.

Gathered Bodice FBA Tutorial

Let’s get started, shall we?

choosing a base size

Just like with other full bust adjustments, the first step is to figure out what base size you’ll be making. Choose based on your high bust + 2″ as the “bust” measurement on the chart. I’ve talked about this before, but most FBA tutorials will have you choose based on your high bust substituted for the size chart’s “bust” measurement. I’m honestly not sure why tutorials teach this way, as this instruction fails to consider that almost all patterns are drafted such that the high bust is 2″ smaller than the full bust.

Thus, if the high bust measurement is not offered on a pattern, you must add 2″ to your high bust measurement, and choose the size with a bust measurement that most closely corresponds to this HB+2. My high bust measurement is about 35″, so I need a size with a bust measurement that is around 37″. According to the size chart on the Butterick 6226, that put me at a size 16.

Now, let’s take a quick moment to talk about Big 4 pattern sizing and why I ultimately chose a 14 even though the boob math put me in a 16: After reading reviews of this pattern and chatting with some folks on Instagram who had made this pattern before, the feedback was unanimous: This pattern runs big. That wasn’t a surprise; almost all Big 4 (Butterick, McCalls, Simplicity, and Vogue) run big. Most people I talked to said they got the best fit by choosing two sizes down from what they measured. Since 14 was the smallest size I had, though, I decided to go for it. (After making, I can confirm I probably could have made a 12, had I had the pattern for it.)

Okay, back to the FBA.

Doing some full bust adjustment math

Now, to start our FBA, we must do a little math. Butterick, like most pattern companies, drafts its patterns for a 2″ full bust to upper bust difference. My full bust is currently 45.5″, and my high bust is 35″ — meaning I have a 10.5″ difference. I need to subtract 2 from 10.5, for a total of 8.5. This means, in theory, I should have done a 8.5″ full bust adjustment, adding 4.25″ on each side. If you are working with a woven pattern, this is absolutely what you should do.

But this jumpsuit is a knit garment with a lot of ease, so I decided to do a few more steps.

First, I looked at the finished garment measurements. At a size 14, the finished bust measurement of 43.5″, so it’s drafted with an intended 7″ of positive ease (since the 14 is intended for busts of 36″). My chosen fabric also has 30% comfortable stretch (meaning not stretching it to it’s absolute limits), so—if I made the pattern as-is—I would have ended up with a possible 56.5″, after stretch.

As those of you who follow me on instagram know, I thought about being lazy and just making the pattern as-is. I asked you all. And you all very wisely told me to do the damn FBA.

But I didn’t necessarily want the full 7″ of positive ease, so I decided to do a smaller FBA than the basic [my full bust minus high bust] – 2″ equation was telling me. So I settled on doing a 5″ FBA—adding 2.5″ on each side. This would result in a finished, unstretched bust measurement of 48.5″—so 2″ of positive ease. This also meant that, if my boobs keep growing (please NO!), the garment could comfortably stretch to 63″.

Alright. Let’s do the thing. Add 2.5″ on each side.

Marking the pivot points

The apex was conveniently marked on the Butterick 6226!

(If, on your pattern, the apex is not marked, you’ll need to find its approximate location. The pattern may indicate bust-to-bust measurement, which can be divided in two and measured from the center front to find the horizontal alignment of the apex. Similarly, some patterns will list a shoulder point to bust measurement, which can then be measured from the shoulder point on the pattern to find where the apex lands vertically. Find where these points intersect, and you have your apex! If your pattern doesn’t list any of this, just make your best guess as to the apex location.)

You’re then going to draw two lines, seen in my photo in red: one vertically down from the apex to the waist, and one diagonally from the apex to the armpit, about 1/3 of the way up. We will call the vertical line “line A” and the diagonal line “line B.”

The next step is to draw two horizontal lines: What we’ll call “Line C” will go from the apex horizontally to the side seam. What we will call “Line D” will go horizontally from Line A to the center front. Don’t worry too much about exact placement of Line D — it’s really not important. Just needs to be somewhere from Line A to center front.

Cutting your pivot lines

Now, we’re going to begin snipping. Cut along Line A and Line B to the seam allowance. Snip carefully on Line B at the seam allowance to allow it to hinge—cutting to, but not through the seam allowance line.

adding Room for large breasts

Place your pattern on another sheet of paper, and tape down the right side of your hinge. Now, measure from the right side of Line A to however many inches you need to add — in my case, 2.5″. Draw a line on the scrap paper to mark this measurement. We’ll call this “Line E.”

Now you’re going to cut through Line C. Hinge the left side of Line A to meet Line E. Tape this down for now, but with the recognition that you’re going to have to close Line C in a few steps.

Truing the length

Next, you’re going to cut along Line D. I like to draw a straight line down from the right side of Line A so I know where I’m going to reconnect this cut off piece in the next step.

Tape down the piece you just cut off below Line D to your pattern, keeping it in line with the right side of Line A:

Then, we’re going to untape Line C. I know, taking tape off is a bitch, but I find it less fiddly than not taping down Line C in the earlier step. Up to you, I suppose.

You’re going to close Line C, creating a weird, contorted looking pattern piece. It’s all okay. I promise.

We’re nearly done! Your next step is to draw a curve to close off the bottom of your pattern piece. You can see my curved line in red, below. You can use a French curve to do this, but I honestly just freehanded.

Cut out your pattern, and voila! You have a newly-FBA’d pattern.

The only further change you’re going to have to make is that the gathering line — marked on my pattern piece as a purple dashed line — will need to follow the line of the bottom of your pattern piece, curve and all.

Dealing with the Waist

Usually, when we do large FBAs, we have to redraw the side seam or add a waist dart to prevent from adding room at the waist. But, with a gathered bodice, the extra room you added at the waist is going to be dealt with when you gather the waistline. You’re just going to have more gathers than someone with a smaller bust would.

Sewing the B6226 — General Thoughts

I’m glad y’all talked me out of being lazy and into doing a full bust adjustment! The jumpsuit feels like it fits well, with a bit of room to grow in the bust when my milk starts coming in.

The jumpsuit definitely feels a bit roomy through the shoulders, waist and hips, and I certainly could have sized down to a 12 if I had owned that size in the pattern. But it’s comfy even in the 14, so I’m not too worried about it.

There’s definitely plenty of room for my belly to grow. In fact, there’s so much room at the front crotch that things look a bit strange seated. This is really common in maternity wear, even store bought, so I’m not concerned. It just means my belly has plenty of room as it expands.

Have questions about this full bust adjustment tutorial for large busts? Drop a comment below or or ask on the Sew Busty Facebook group or subreddit.

Life Update: I’M PREGNANT

If you follow @sewbusty on Instagram, you already know this news, but I’m finally pregnant!

The last time I posted here, I was struggling with depression, anxiety, and infertility. I was honestly just unable to do anything that I used to find fun, including working on Sew Busty. So it sat. For months. (I’m sorry!)

And then I got pregnant. This helped a lot with my mental health struggles, because I think a lot of that traced back to infertility. But then came morning sickness.

I was so sick. SO SICK.

That list of projects I was planning to do for the end of 2021? Not a single one happened. (Good thing I knocked on wood?)

Blogging certainly didn’t happen. Honestly, my primary hobby was taking 3-hour long baths, because being submerged in water was basically the only place I felt semi-normal.

My doctor started me on reglan, a prescription often used for chemo patients to help them keep food down. It worked for about, I dunno, three weeks. I posted on Instagram so excited that I was feeling better and might be able to start up with Sew Busty again.

And then the nausea started sneaking back in, despite the reglan. At first, it was just a background feeling of minor nausea, like when car sickness starts. And then it grew. And then I started vomiting every 2 hours again. I couldn’t even keep water down. And this was after taking reglan. This was about a month ago.

I called my doctor, and she switched me to zofran, which is the magic pill du jour. I feel so much better on zofran. I’m able to live pretty normally right now. I hope it keeps working and doesn’t stop like the reglan did!

The last few weeks, after starting zofran, I was traveling for work and unable to give any time to Sew Busty.

But now I’m 19 weeks pregnant (almost halfway!), feeling human again, not feeling depressed or anxious, and I think I’m finally able to get back to Sew Busty.

I’m not going to make promises, because if there’s one thing the past ~6 months has taught me, it’s that you never really know what’s going to happen. I have to put my mental and physical health first, so if the zofran stops working or I slip back into a depression, I’ll probably disappear again.

But, for now, I’m ready to be here.

Here are the things I have planned coming up (again, knock on wood!):

  • Review on Laela Jeyne’s Cosette Blouse (one of the last things I made … all the way back in October!)
  • Some maternity makes, including patterns that aren’t strictly maternity, but can be used that way
  • Community blogs (let me know if you want to write one by writing me at lindsie@sewbusty.com!)

Busty Pattern Review | Jackie Sports Bra from Porcelynne

As you may have read yesterday, my sewjo has been at a serious low, along with my mental health. But when Jennifer from Porcelynne — the QUEEN of busty bra patterns — announced she was coming out with a new sports bra pattern, I HAD TO TRY.

Jennifer was kind enough to give me a sneak peek at this pattern — which just launched Sunday — in exchange for me sharing my honest feedback with you all!

This pattern is 25% off through Friday (when all Porcelynne patterns will be 25% off for Black Friday!). On Monday, Porcelynne will include a free tankini add-on pattern with purchase of any sports bra pattern — including Jackie, Christina, and Laurel!

The Jackie Sports Bra comes with multiple options: a zip front closure, a hook and eye front closure, or a pull-over option. Better yet, Jackie is fully interchangeable with Porcelynne’s Christina and Laurel patterns, so you can opt to use Laurel’s hook and eye back closure with Jackie’s front, or do Christina’s racerback with Jackie’s front.

Jennifer’s patterns are amazing because most of them, including the go up to an N cup for bands 28-52, making her range one of the most (if not the most) size inclusive on the market. (I say “most of them” because things are just a bit more confusing when it comes to the Eve modular wired bra pattern, which you can read about here.)

Needless to say, I’m a big fan. In my opinion, everything Jennifer touches is gold.

Because I needed an easy project, I chose to go with the pullover option. I definitely am eager to try the front zip, and will certainly make a point of tackling that option in the future, but I didn’t have the spoons for it this time around.

The front closure option is cool, but my absolute favorite part about the Jackie is the straps! These straps — made with cut & sew foam covered by fabric, and made adjustable in a very clever way — are sooooo comfy.

The pullover option went together fairly quickly. Remember, I’m a sloooowwww sewist, so don’t take my hours as an indication, but this bra probably took me 7 hours? For a first time with the pattern, that’s on the short side for me.

Since I was literally wearing my Christina while I made my Jackie, I decided to go for the same size I had made my Christina, even though my boobs have grown a bit since I made Christina: 30J. Back when I made my Christina, a 30J was already sizing down in the band and cup for a compression fit. Now that my boobs have gained another 1.5″, I probably should have gone up to a 30K for a compression fit, or a 32L for an encapsulation fit.

Let’s talk about support: This bra isn’t quite as supportive as my Christina, which is my go-to sports bra. But that’s probably more because of my fabric choice than anything else. While I lined this with the same 200 gsm black wicking fabric that I used for my Christina, the outer fabric isn’t quite so heavy.

For the outer fabric, I used a combo of the same black wicking fabric for the center front and side back panels, a 195 gsm mustard swim for the side front and back panels, and a polka dot swim fabric for the inner front panels. I’m not sure what the weight on the dot fabric is, but I’d be willing to bet it’s slightly lower than the mustard fabric. On my Christina, I cut the main on the grain and the lining on the cross grain; on my Jackie, I cut everything on the grain.

This pattern is designed for 200-320 gsm+, so I was at the verrrry minimum weight called for by the pattern for my lining, and just under that for my outer, and I’m near the top of the cup size range, so it’s really no surprise that the support isn’t as good as my Christina.

And it’s not that the support is bad. I did a forearm stand in this and felt totally secure. It just doesn’t quite pass the jumping jack test.

I continue to stand by my assessment that Porcelynne is the best company for large-cupped bra patterns, and I can’t wait to see what Jennifer comes up with next.

SEE MORE JACKIES! As part of the launch of the Jackie Sports Bra pattern, Porcelynne is hosting a blog tour. Tomorrow’s post will be on Girls in Uniform, who is posting a second Jackie make (use Chrome’s translate feature if you don’t read Dutch!). Other Jackie makes include:

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Using the affiliate links in Sew Busty posts is a great way to support the costs of running Sew Busty, as when you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. This helps me pay for the hosting, domain, design, and other costs associated with administering this site. All opinions remain my own.

I’ve Been Away: Mental health, life, and my sewjo + end of year sewing plans (knock on wood)

Sewing is something I love. But only when I’m feeling good.

Content warning: mental health, infertility, and family loss discussed in this post.

If you follow Sew Busty on Instagram, you may already know that I’ve been struggling with my mental (and physical) health lately. I’ve been experiencing depression, brought on by the death of my grandma, a tumultuous and frustrating fertility journey, and considering the possibility of a career change. All of this happened at the same time, and as someone who thrives on plans and stability, it was just too much change (or even potential change) for me to handle at once.

I lost my sewjo.

But I didn’t just lose my sewjo. I also lost my will to dance — another thing I normally enjoy doing. (I attended my first dance class in four months yesterday.) I lost my interest in cooking — and I love cooking so much that in 2019-20, I took online classes to become certified in plant-based culinary arts. Basically, I lost my energy to do anything other than get through work every day, throw together a quick dinner, and settle in for some TV, all the while distracted by obsessive thoughts about what my life might look like in 6 months, a year, five years.

Struggling to define my career

The job situation was especially hard, I think. If you know me, you know I love what I do. So much of my identity is tied up in my work. My job is in exactly the field I sought to join when I went to grad school, and I use my graduate degrees (and the knowledge I gained through my thesis research) every day.

So when I was recruited for another job — in the same field, at another organization I love — while it was a great honor and an exciting prospect, the thought of leaving my current organization was exhaustingly frightening. I spent 8 weeks grueling over the decision, second guessing myself at every juncture. I can’t even explain how stressful this was, because I struggle to find words to identify why I found it so taxing. I was crying about it almost daily for 8 weeks, though, if that gives you an indication.

And when I ultimately decided to stay at my current organization (with a promotion that included my absolute dream job description), it upset some people whom I respect, and that was incredibly tough. At this point, I’m LOVING my new role, and I’m so glad I decided to stay where I am. I’m at peace with people being upset with me.

Making babies is hard (and expensive)

And then there’s this fertility journey. Let me tell you something: Women’s healthcare fucking sucks.

The doctors basically have no idea why, but my husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for about a year now to no avail. I’m 29, so age isn’t a factor, and by all accounts, this shouldn’t be this hard.

You know, you spend your whole life trying to avoid pregnancy because they tell you in middle school health class how easy it is to get pregnant. And then you end up in my situation, finally trying to get pregnant, and you have to go to the doctor twice a week for even a hope.

Skip the next three paragraphs (gray background) if you don’t want the nitty-gritty details. The way a uterus-having person’s cycle is supposed to work is this: You have your period. Near the end/just after your period, your estrogen starts rising, ultimately surging. During this time, you grow follicles that will eventually release an egg (or two, in the case of fraternal twins). Your estrogen surge tells your body to then produce luteal hormone (LH), which then surges. This LH surge tells your body to release the egg. This happens, usually, on day 12-15 of your cycle. The LH surge also tells your body to produce progesterone, which aids in implantation and prevents your body from having a period too early.

Some of this happens for me. I have a period, my estrogen rises, and I have an LH surge and ovulation — albeit a bit late, at day 18. But the progesterone doesn’t happen. I get a mini progesterone rise — enough for the doctors to confirm that I am, in fact, ovulating — but not enough to aid implantation or to stave off my period. My period comes ~8 days after I ovulate, which is not enough time for implantation to occur, since implantation takes 8-12 days after ovulation. This short period between ovulation and menstrual cycle is referred to as luteal phase defect.

The thing is, if one’s body is capable of producing estrogen (which mine clearly is), apparently it’s also capable of producing progesterone. I don’t understand the mechanics of that, but this is what my endocrinologist tells me. So the theory for a while was that my body wasn’t recognizing the LH surge and thus wasn’t producing progesterone the way it should have. This was an exciting theory, because it was the beginnings of a diagnosis. But then I had a uterine biopsy (which, yes, almost made me pass out from the pain) that showed that my body does actually react to LH, so we’re really not sure what the hell is going on.

I took a pause while writing this to answer a call from my pharmacy telling me the drug my doctor thinks might help is not covered by insurance. Which brings me to the other part of the baby-making struggle: It’s flipping expensive.

I’m spending something like $1000-1500/month on medical care right now. I’m so thankful that for that promotion and raise I just got, because it’s honestly all going to the fertility clinic.

Slowly starting to feel normal

A couple weeks ago, I got to visit my best friend in Seattle for about a week. It was exactly what I needed. We didn’t do much sightseeing, but instead just spent time relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.

After that trip, I’m feeling much better. Not 100%, but much better. Well enough to make a bra last weekend, to have another pattern printed and ready to cut, and to have taken a dance class yesterday. I’m starting to feel like me again.

I made the new Porcelynne Jackie sports bra last weekend (stay tuned for a review on the pattern tomorrow!), and this was my first sewing project in a while. It felt good to make a pattern that went together easily. And now I have plans for some more complicated projects. In the next month or so, I’m hoping to make:

Now I just need y’all’s good vibes to make it happen. With luck (and a little bit of self care and therapy), I’ll be on my way back to producing more regular content for Sew Busty again. ❤