3: Finding the pattern apex, your apex on the pattern and pattern adjustments

Hi dear readers,
Today we will discuss how to make the modifications to the pattern we planned in our last fitting post.  We will start by discussing how to find the pattern’s drafted bust apex and your own bust apex on the pattern. We will then shift the darts so that they converge at your apex, we will grade the seams of the pattern and finally we will do a full bust adjustment (FBA).

Finding the pattern apex
Let’s start by reminding ourselves that the apex of a dart points towards the region which requires maximum fullness. Darts on a front bodice generally point towards the bust apex of the mannequin for which the pattern was drafted.

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One and two dart bodice patterns

In some cases, the bust apex is labeled on the pattern by a circle with a cross.

Pattern apex
Pattern apex symbol in the bust region

If the bust apex is not labeled on the pattern, in order to find the location of the pattern bust apex, all we have to do is extend the line that crosses the center of each dart. In front bodices with more than one dart, the position of the bust apex is simply determined by the point of intersection of these lines.The bust apex is generally 2″ – 3″ away from the apex of the darts drafted for the pattern.  This is a good rule of thumb to find the location of the pattern bust apex on a single-dart pattern.

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Finding the location of the pattern bust apex
Finding your apex on the pattern
In order to find the position of your apex on the pattern you are using, we have to remember lesson 1 where we determined the position of our bust apex by locating it with respect to other body references. Remember these girls?
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Using different body references to find the location of your apex

Depending on the pattern style, one of the above references may be more useful than others. For instance, the following styles are examples of patterns that would lend themselves to taking the side neck (M6649), the center front (B5889) or the shoulder seam (B5034) respectively as references.

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Different pattern styles may require different references for the location of your bust apex

Once you have selected the reference point that works best, you can proceed to find the position of your own apex on the pattern. The following image illustrates how to find the location of your apex when you take the center front neck as your reference. With any other reference you would proceed in a similar manner.

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Note that the apex to apex measurement is divided over 2 since we normally work with just half of the pattern.
Note that your apex and the pattern apex may not be at the same position.
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Shifting the darts towards your apex
Now that we have found the position of your bust apex on the pattern, we shoud shift the darts to point towards it so that the fullness is added in the appropriate place. It’s good to keep in mind that the bust apex is generally 2″ – 3″ away from the darts apex and may vary depending on the pattern style. You can shift the darts using one of the following two methods:
Method 1:
Re-draw the dart legs so that the new dart apex points towards the your apex (red star). True the dart.
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Shifting the dart legs to intersect at your apex. Black: when patterns are drafted, the darts originally point towards the drafted pattern’s bust apex. Color: When altering your pattern to fit you, the darts should point towards your own bust apex.

Method 2:

Cut and shift the dart following Megan Nielsen’s tutorial. You need to make sure to align line passing through the center of the dart with your bust apex. True the dart.

Picture9
Cut and shift the dart so that it points towards your apex (red star). Black: when patterns are drafted, the darts originally point towards the drafted pattern’s bust apex. Color: When altering your pattern to fit you, the darts should point towards your own bust apex.

I personally use Method 1 most often.

Pattern adjustments
Now that we have the pattern with the correct bust placement and the darts pointing towards the right direction, we are ready to do the pattern alterations we had planned in post 2 (link to 2: Choosing your pattern size and planning the pattern adjustments).

Planned alterations:

1) Grading the seams of the pattern
To do this, Tanya from the Curvy Sewing Collective (CSC)has written a very clear post to guide you in how to grade a pattern the easy way. Note that you would only need to grade at the side seams. You can find other grading tutorials at the CSC website.

2) Adding fullness at the bust through an FBA
This modification generally depends on the pattern, you can find a tutorial here for FBA on a one dart bodice.
Since different pattern styles require the alterations to be performed in different ways, I will give more detailed examples in the future, posting the first muslin, explaining the alterations made and showing you the result. You can find a first example of this kind  of post in Minoru muslin. From the fit of the first muslin, I will suggest modifications to get the fit right for the final garment.
In general, following these alterations, my first muslins are wearable.

I really hope the information on my “perfect fit series” is in some way useful for you. If you are interested in more, please visit the fitting tab.
Go rock the world of patterns and let me know how they turn out!
❤ M
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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Elisa says:

    Dear Monserrat, first of all thank you for taking the time to make this tutorial. I am a sewing beginner attempting my first pattern alteration. The plan is to sew the “Sorbetto” top from Colette with a full bust adjustment. I was following your instructions and everything was going fine until the part where I was supposed to find the position of my own apex on the pattern. I just couldn’t get it. The point of taking measurements in advance was to be able to – instead of locating the apex by placing the pattern paper over the bust – simply draw lines from a particular reference point in the required length, right? I took my measurements but I have no idea where/in which angle/in which direction to put the ruler and trace the lines to locate the new apex. Could you please explain this? Thanks again for sharing.
    Saludos
    Elisa (from Portugal)

    Like

    1. Hi Elisa,
      Sorry for the delay in my reply, things have been crazy with little Emilia lately. Here goes the reply to your quesiton:

      Take the distance from side neck to apex as your start point (Dsa). Starting at the side neck of the pattern (not counting seam allowances), trace a circle with a radius = Dsa. Then, take your apex to apex distance and divide it over 2 (Daa/2). Sarting at the center front line of the pattern, trace a line at a Daa/2 distance. The intersection of the circle resulting from Dsa and Daa/2 lines is the position of your apex. That is pretty much all you need, if in addition you want to find the position of your waist on the pattern, which you don’t really need for the Sorbetto, you can measure the Distance from your apex to the center front waist (Dacfw). Then measure Dacfw from your apex on the patter to the center front of the pattern. This intersection determines the position of your waist line.
      I hope this helps.
      Please let me know if this is clear enough and whether you have any other questions.

      All best,

      Monserratt

      Like

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