DAY 1 | PREPARATION (SIZING + ADJUSTMENTS)
written by Anemone (Anne) Harris
Welcome to the LA BREA tee Sew Along! My name is Anne Harris, and I'll be leading you through both views A and B over 5 days (or blog posts). I've included lots of great info on fabric, choosing your size and several adjustment tutorials. This Sew Along is meant to be used along with the instructions included in the pattern, while adding extra detail and a different perspective.
I've included detailed steps on lots of adjustments in this first "preparation" post. You can use this links to jump directly to the adjustments if you'd like:
- lengthen or shorten (basic)
- lengthen or shorten above the bust
- blending between sizes
- adjusting the bust
- adjusting for a full bicep
- adjusting for a gaping neckline
I've also included steps on two methods of creating bias tape:
That's a lot of info on this page! Let's get started!
You will of course need the basics: a sewing machine, ironing board, iron, pins and scissors.
- knit or woven bias tape, 4.5 cm (1 ¾”) flat (⅜” double folded) or fabric/scraps to make your own.
- coordinating thread for your main fabric and optionally for your bias tape if using contrast fabric.
- Ballpoint sewing machine needle (optional for knits but an all purpose needle is fine on knits too)
Choosing fabric is the most fun (in my opinion) and with LA BREA you can use either knits or wovens! While View A is designed for knits you can certainly use a woven (I have) and View B would work with a knit too.
KNITS: View A is designed for light to midweight knits without lycra or elastane, such as 100% cotton, linen, hemp or modal knits, etc. For stretch knits (eg. 5% elastane), size down 1 or 2 sizes.
WOVENS: light to midweight wovens, such as cotton, linen or double gauze. The drape of the fabric may change the look of the final garment.
To help you decide what type of fabric you might like to use I thought I’d show you how my versions in various fabrics look. You can also check out the lovely tester versions here or the hashtag #labreatee on Instagram.
View A in a 55% hemp/45% cotton jersey knit (lightweight 195 gsm, 5.75 oz) with self made rayon bias tape.
View A in a 100% tencel jersey knit (lightweight) with self made knit bias tape in the same fabric.
View A in a 100% organic cotton jersey knit (lightweight 130gsm, 3.8oz) with self made bias tape in a cotton lawn.
View B in a 100% linen woven, loose open weave (lightweight)
View A in a 100% rayon voile woven (lightweight) with self made bias tape in the same fabric.
CHOOSING YOUR SIZE AND MAKING ADJUSTMENTS
Use your high bust and full hip measurements to choose your base size, then your full bust measurement to decide if you will use the B cup or D cup pattern piece.
- A sewing B cup is a full bust that is 5cm (2") wider than the high bust measurement.
- A sewing D cup is a full bust that is 10cm (4") wider than the high bust measurement.
For example, my measurements of 36” upper bust, 40” full bust (so 4” difference) meant I fell into a size 6 D cup for my upper body. My hip measurement of 44” falls into a size 8. Based on this I printed the layers and pages for the D cup sizes 6 through 8. (If my measurements had been 36” upper bust, 38” full bust (2” difference) I would have chosen the B cup front.)
To get a good fit you may need to make further adjustments. I recommend doing a toile (practice version) in an inexpensive fit to determine if you need adjustments.
LENGTHEN OR SHORTEN
The La Brea tee is drafted for a height of 168 cm or 5 feet 6 inches. If you are shorter than this, you may wish to remove length from the pattern. If you are taller than this, you may wish to add some length.
Cut the pattern along the lengthen/shorten line.
To lengthen add a piece of tissue or scrap paper, taping to one edge. Measure away from the lengthen shorten line by the amount of length you wish to add, drawing a parallel line to mark this.
Tape the other half of your pattern piece along this line, aligning the center front of both pieces. To shorten you would follow this same process but overlap the pieces by the amount you wish to shorten.
If you are much shorter (or taller) than the pattern is designed for, you may wish to shorten in multiple places on the pattern. I myself often “shorten above the bust” as I’m only 5 feet 2 inches tall and often find armholes too low.
Spread the pattern to add length or overlap (as shown here) to shorten.
Mark the new side seam line(s), blending smoothly between the changes from your lengthening or shortening. Trim off the excess scrap paper.
If you shorten or lengthen above the bust you are changing the size of the arm opening. This means you’ll also need to adjust the view B armband by the same amount at both front and back! Overlap the pieces for shortening and spread apart adding scrap paper to lengthen.
You need to lengthen or shorten the front and back pattern pieces equally, so don’t forget to also adjust your back piece by the same amount(s).
BLENDING BETWEEN SIZES
If you have narrow shoulders you may wish to blend from a smaller size at the shoulder out to the size indicated by your upper bust over the arm opening. I blended from size 5 at the shoulders to 6D in the bust for mine and it fits my narrow shoulders much better!
If your upper bust is in a different size than your waist or hips (or both) then you may wish to blend between sizes. Blend your side seam smoothly from one size at the but to another at the hips.
EXAMPLE: Blending to a larger size at the hips:
EXAMPLE: Blending to a smaller size at the hips.
Don't forget to make your blending adjustments to both the front and back pattern pieces!
ADJUSTING THE BUST
If the difference between your upper and full bust differs significantly from the B cup (5cm, 2", difference) or the D cup (10cm, 4", difference) you may wish to make a FBA (full bust adjustment) or a SBA (small bust adjustment).
For example, if the difference between your high bust and full bust is 5” (making you an E cup) you might do an FBA to add an extra 1” of width for your bust.
To do a bust adjustment first find your bust point on the pattern piece by holding it up to your body and marking your apex on the pattern.
Draw cut lines onto the pattern as shown here.
Cut up the line vertically from the hem to the bust point and continue cutting up the line to the armhole leaving a tiny hinge at the armhole. Cut from the side seam along the line under the arm leaving a tiny hinge at the bust point. You will be able to spread your pattern apart like this:
Add a piece of scrap or tissue paper under your pattern piece, taping the left side in place as shown.
Pivot the slashed pieces closed and trace along the side seam and the outer corner of the hem line onto the paper below.
Spread the slashed pieces apart again and measure away from the vertical slash line by half the amount of bust width you wish to add, drawing a parallel line to mark this.
EXAMPLE: If you had an E cup, and wanted to add an extra 2.5 cm (1”) total width to the D pattern piece, you would add 1.25 cm (½”) on the half of the pattern you are adjusting. When cut both sides together equal the total 2.5 cm (1”) extra width you want.
Pivot the pattern sections so aligned along the line you just drew while still laying flat. Hold in place and tape down along the slash that runs from bust point to arm opening. Also, slide down and tape in place the small square (at lower center front) to align with the new hemline. The right “side seam section” should not be taped down yet.
Pivot the side seam piece back inwards so it touches the other side at the hem of the original slash line. Draw a smooth line across the dart opening (shown in black) down to blend with where you traced the original side seam of the pattern (shown in red).
You can now remove the right hand section and trace a smooth curve joining the bottom corner of your original side seam (red) to the hem at center front. FBA done!
The process to make a SBA (small bust adjustment) involves the same slash marks but you will overlap the pieces and shorten the front slightly.
ADJUST FOR A FULL BICEP
Draw a slash line on your back pattern piece, from the arm opening up to the neckline leaving a hinge at the neck. Spread apart by half the amount of extra room you need for your bicep. Mark a smooth line joining across the opening in the arm.
Repeat these steps on the front pattern piece
You will need to adjust your view B armband piece by the amount of bicep room added. Spread armband, front and back, by the same amount adjusted on the bodice pieces.
Overlap pattern piece at the neckline slightly. Mark a smooth line for the new neck opening.
Repeat these steps on the back pattern piece
MAKING BIAS TAPE: TWO METHODS
Bias tape can be used to bind garment openings, in a manner visible on the outside, like view A of the LA BREA tee. Or used as a facings on the inside of your garment as with LA BREA view B. Not to mention other techniques such as bias faced hems, bias bound seam allowances or a beautiful facing that turns into ties as in the wrap top + dress VONDEL. Nothing is more pleasing than a secret beautiful finish on the inside! I’ll now show you two methods for making Bias tape.
Step 1. Use the Bias Tape Template piece from your LA BREA pattern to cut 4.5 cm (1 3/4") wide strips of scrap fabric on the bias. The length of the strip should be at a 45 degree angle from the grainline of your fabric.
Alternatively if you use a cutting mat/rotary cutter you can use a long “quilting ruler” to cut 4.5 cm (1 ¾") wide strips. A quilting ruler usually has the 45° angle marked so you can align it with your selvage edge or the grainline of your fabric.
Cut as many strips as you need to make the length of bias tape needed for your project.
Step 2. With right sides together, align diagonal edges of bias strips so they create a right angle. You want points of fabric to jut out as shown below, giving you a seam allowance to one side.
Stitch together, beginning and ending at the Vs where the layers cross.
Trim seams, press open and clip off the little points that stick out past your strip at each seam.
Step 3. Press the bias tape in half along the length, wrong sides touching.
Step 4. Press the raw edges in to the center fold, wrong sides touching.
You now have double fold bias tape!
MAKING BIAS TAPE WITH THE CONTINUOUS LOOP METHOD
If you have a larger rectangular scrap, or purchased a specific fabric for bias tape to coordinate with your main garment fabric, you can turn it into bias strips using the continuous loop method. It’s surprising just how much bias tape you can get from a ½ yard of fabric!
Step 1. Cut your rectangular piece of fabric at a 45 degree angle across the center.
Step 2. With right sides together, align and pin the selvage/straight edges.
Stitch together. Trim your seam allowance and press open.
Step 3. Draw lines on your fabrics, parallel to the 45 degree diagonal edge, spaced 4.5 cm (1 3/4") apart.
You may have a bit of excess at the end to trim off in order for each strip to be 4.5 cm (1 ¾") wide.
Mark a seam allowance line 1 cm (⅜”) in from both straight edges of the fabric.
Step 4. Bring the straight edges of you fabric together, right sides facing. You want to align your first line marking on the one straight edge with the second line marking on the other straight edge. You can see in the image below that the top lay extends past the bottom layer by one “strip”.
Pin layers where the line for a strip intersects the seam allowance line matching. The pin goes through the intersecting lines on both the top and bottom layer.
After pinning all your intersection points the bottom layer will extend 1 “strip” width past the end of your top layer.
Step 5. Stitch your twisted tube of fabric together along the edge you pinned, following the seam allowance line you marked.
Trim your seam allowance.
Press your seam allowance open. Using a sleeve roll, sleeve board or just a rolled up towel inside the tube of fabric will make this easier to accomplish. I used my point press here because it was the closest thing I had handy!
Step 6. Cut around the twisted tube following the angled lines you marked.
You now have a very long continuous strip of bias fabric!
Step 7. You could now follow Step 4 in the “Making Bias Tape from scraps” tutorial to turn your strips into bias tape. However, if you think you may be making a lot of bias tape you may want to invest in this inexpensive Bias Making Tool which can be used as follows.
Pull the end of your bias strip through the center of the Bias Making Tool (I’m using a size 25mm tool here). A pin may help to snag the fabric and pull it through.
When the fabric is centered and pulled through the tool it will fold both ends in towards the center.
Pull the tool back along the bias strip pressing the folds in place with your iron as you go.
After pressing the edges to the middle with the tool you can then fold together along the middle lengthwise and you’ll have double fold bias tape!
I just love Meghann’s suggestion in the LA BREA instructions to store bias tape on old thread spools!
That's it for Day 1. Tomorrow we'll create the basic bodice of View A!
Anemone (Anne) is a lover of all things sewing and fabric and regularly tests patterns for halfmoon ATELIER. She lives in Saskatchewan, Canada with her spouse and their two adorable and hilarious dogs. You can follow Anne’s sewing adventures on her Instagram account @sewanemone.
@sewanemone on Instagram