Why Upper Bust?

(Part 4: Bodice Block Essentials)

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Video Transcript

00:00:00:23 – 00:00:27:03

Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me
Starlight and dew drops are waiting for thee….
Hi, this is Maria from dresspatternmaking.com.
This is part four of a series of six videos on Bodice Block Essentials. I’m putting out once tutorial a week on Sundays. If you haven’t watched parts 1 to 3 already, I recommend that you do so before watching this one.

00:00:27:21 – 00:00:45:00

My system, based on the Upper Bust, will allow you to end up with a correct Bust Cup at the end of the block making process. So saves you having to do a Large Bust Adjustment afterwards and saves you being caught by the Large Bust Adjustment Gotcha – when you end up with too much ease in the armhole. In this video, I’ll show you how that works.

00:00:45:11 – 00:01:04:18

Although I created the system specifically to ensure a better fit for Non-Standard Figures, it will of course work just as well for Standard Figures. After these 6 videos, I will be remaking the Bodice Block videos that I currently have on YouTube. That is, the step-by-step instruction videos. I’m redoing them because I have refined my system a little.

00:01:05:12 – 00:01:28:10

So if you have watched the previous videos, you’ll know by now that the Bust Cups are determined by the difference between your Upper Bust measurement and your Bust measurement. 1 inch difference is an A cup, 2 inches is a B Cup, etc.. If you have not watched the previous videos in the series, I suggest you do so. The summary that is contained in this video assumes that you know and understand the information I have given in the previous ones.

00:01:29:04 – 00:01:56:19

Now, if you’ve tried other block making instructions, chances are what they’ve told you about the Upper Bust is this. [sound of crickets]. This is because the upper bust is an assumed measurement. I’ll also briefly cover a few other assumed measurements in block making instructions, and later explain why they are assumed, so you understand it in context. When drafting the parts, more often than not the Thigh is assumed and the Crotch Length. With the Bodice,

00:01:56:19 – 00:02:18:18

the Upper Bust is almost always assumed and quite often the Shoulder Slope is assumed also. First this will explain what I mean by an ‘assumed measurement’. It’s a measurement that’s not required or used to draft the block. It ends up working out as a proportion of another measurement. So the assumption is that you have the same proportion between those two body measurements as the Standard Figure that is the basis of that system.

00:02:19:06 – 00:02:39:18

So in most pants block making instructions, the Thigh is an assumed measurement. If you watch my first pants video, this is explained in detail, but I’ll do a very quick summary. The Thigh measurement is not one of the measurements used to draft the block. If you look at this image, the thigh is basically the hip measurement shown in green, plus the crotch extension shown in pink plus some ease.

00:02:40:00 – 00:02:58:10

The crotch extension is calculated in the block making in the process and it is a percentage of the hip. Now, the Standard Figure for most commercial patterns have a thigh that is about 60% of the hip measurement. Now, of course, the idea is you draft the pants to these measurements, you try it on, and then if it doesn’t fit, you make adjustments.

00:02:58:21 – 00:03:18:08

But it makes more sense to me to get the fit as close as possible to the body measurements first. That means using the thigh measurement rather than assuming that it’s a proportion of the hip measurement. Mainly because fitting can be really challenging, especially if your body is different to the standard figure in a number of ways and you don’t know where or how to stop making the necessary changes.

00:03:18:24 – 00:03:42:13

The Shoulder Slope is another measurement that is often assumed. I have five textbooks with block making instructions and three of them have the shoulder slope assumed based on a percentage of the armhole depth. So in the block making system shown on the slide on screen. The shoulder slope is based on a percentage of the armhole depth. Here, the shoulder slope has ended up somewhere between two and a half and three inches.

00:03:42:19 – 00:04:07:05

That’s measuring from the High Neck Point down to the Shoulder as shown. So all blocks drafted with this system would end up with that shoulder slope. So here’s a comparison of my shoulder slope in pink compared to the standard shoulder slope shown from the previous slide in green. Now, that standard shoulder slope I showed you before is pretty consistent across most of block making instructions and commercial patterns.

00:04:07:17 – 00:04:23:23

But looking at the comparison on screen, you can see that I have very square shoulders. So if I drafted a block with that system, it would not result in a good fit for me. Now, someone new to sewing, fitting, patternmaking, who has a body the shape of mine with a pink outline and tries on a toile made to the blue outline.

00:04:24:07 – 00:04:48:11

The problem is that the fitting changes needed are by no means obvious. So yes, they can make a square shoulder adjustment. But if you can include the individual’s shoulder slope in the block making process, then it makes things a hell of a lot easier. And then there’s the Upper Bust Assumption. So as far as that goes, most block making instruction draft the block based on the bust measurement.

00:04:48:19 – 00:05:13:20

The upper bust measurement isn’t one of the measurements that’s required or used to draft the block, and the upper bust measurement ends up being 2 inches less than the bust . Two inches, because that’s a B-Cup. So that means these two women who both have a bust of 37 and a half inches will end up with the same block, regardless of the fact that the one with a double D cap is 3 inches smaller in the upper bust than the first woman.

00:05:15:15 – 00:05:36:09

So let’s take an example. Kate and Jessica have the same Bust measurement of 34 inches. Kate has a B Cup, so her Upper Bust is 32 inches. Jessica has a D Cup, so her Upper Bust is 30 inches. They would both end up with the blue block – if it’s based just to their bust measurement, that would end up with the same block and it would be the blue block.

00:05:36:18 – 00:05:58:24

The pink block is what Jessica needs to get a good fit. If I put one block on top of the other, you can see the problems that Jessica will have with the Blue BLOCK. She would have too much ease in her armhole / Upper Bust and she would not have the right angle for her Bust Cup. So even though the block was drafted to a 34 inch bust, it would still not fit her in the bust and she would get strain lines from her bust to the side

00:05:58:24 – 00:06:18:21

seam. Just a note; you might also notice that there are other differences in the block. Jessica has a smaller across chest measurement and a shorter shoulder length. This is because women with a larger bust cup often have a smaller frame, a smaller body frame than a woman with the same bust measurement, but a smaller cup. Now I just want to tell a short story.

00:06:19:00 – 00:06:43:16

When I first attempted my first block, this is what happened to me in terms of the excess ease in the armhole and straining. Even though I drafted it to my bust measurement. It was also complicated by the fact that my shoulder slope was so wrong and that made things even more confusing. I was doing patternmaking at TAFE at the time, and there was another girl in the class who purchased the same textbook as I did, to draft her block, at the same time.

00:06:43:16 – 00:07:06:18

I did, and we were going to do it on the same weekend. So when I went back to the class the next day, I asked her how hers ended up and she said, “Fine, good”. I said that mine was a total disaster, and she said that I must have made a mistake. She said, either in drafting or in taking my measurements, because she said, obviously, if I had used my correct measurements and I had followed the directions correctly, it would fit.

00:07:07:03 – 00:07:29:19

Hers did, yes. Well, she was a Size 10 Fit Model at a major fashion company. And I’ll talk about fit models briefly in a few slides. And then comes the Large Bust Adjustment Gotcha. I briefly covered the LBA (Large Bust Adjustment) in my last video when I showed how I came up with a system of drafting the block to include the Bust Cup.

00:07:29:22 – 00:07:46:21

The LPA is done by cutting and spreading the block to give more width at the bust And when you do that, you get the correct angle for the side seam for the larger bust. So this is, for example, how Jessica, from a few slides back would make changes to her B-Cup block that she drafted to get her Bust Cup

00:07:46:21 – 00:08:02:22

right. It would be how I would make changes to the block that I made to a B Cup to get a larger cup. It’s how women with large busts adjust commercial patterns to get a fuller Bust Cup. Note that there are a few different ways of doing it as you cut different places, but the concepts are the same.

00:08:03:11 – 00:08:21:06

But notice on the image how when you do the LBA, you get an increase in the width of the Upper Bust. So Jessica, who ended up with two inches too much ease, would end up with even more ease if she took her B Cup block, drafted it to her bust measurement and did an LBA. And this happened to me.

00:08:21:12 – 00:08:43:10

Continuing my previous story, I read that I needed an LBA, so I did an LBA and the total disaster became even more disastrous. In order for the LBA to work for Jessica, who has a bust measurement of 34 inches and an Upper Bust of 30 inches. She needs to draft her block to 32 inches and then do an LBA.

00:08:43:15 – 00:09:06:09

But that’s not clearly explained in any block making instructions I’ve seen and what it all boils down to. It’s more sensible, easier to base the block on the Upper Bust measurement and draft the bust cup into the block. So the question is why are there assumptions? If the Upper Bust is so important, why isn’t it standard practice to use it to draft blocks?

00:09:07:00 – 00:09:28:12

Now, it’s not my attention to criticize the instructions where assumptions are made. They are fit for purpose. Most of these instructions were created in the context of the garment manufacture and the fashion industry. For garment manufacturing to be profitable, they can’t make one garment in many different shapes for the one size. They basically have to pick a figure which is called a Standard Figure.

00:09:28:22 – 00:09:47:17

They decide what the standard figure is and they make the garment for that figure. A Fit Model is a person who has the target body shape of the fashion label. The fashion label would use that person as their mannequin. When they make a design, they fit it on that person. Now, a fit model usually isn’t the smallest size in the range.

00:09:48:08 – 00:10:07:14

The sizes I’m showing you are Australian sizes. The smaller size in Australia is around a (Size) 6. The FIT model is usually a Size 10 or 12. This is because when they make the patterns bigger and smaller, it doesn’t work as well if you start with a smaller size, So the pattern is made to fit the FIT model and then it is graded up and down.

00:10:07:23 – 00:10:31:23

As the sizes get bigger and smaller, the proportions remain the same. The Shoulder Slope will not change. The Bust Cup will not change. So in the fashion industry, their block making system works for them. If you plug any of their measurements for all of their sizes into that block making system, it will come out perfectly every single time because all of the sizes are in proportion.

00:10:32:16 – 00:10:58:00

They get no benefit from improving the system to make it better for people like me who have Non-Standard Figures. They aren’t making the patterns and clothes for my figure. It isn’t in their interest to make a system that works better for everybody. The system they have is fit for purpose. Their drafting system suits their customer. Now, of course, if there is a fashion label that targets women with larger busts, then they will draft patterns with larger busts.

00:10:58:00 – 00:11:24:03

But chances are they’re not going to find a need to redo their whole block drafting system. They’ll just do a large bust adjustment, and they’re good to go. Because other things such as the Shoulder Slope remains the same. So again, I have no problem with the fact that the system is fit for purpose. The gripe I do have is that many of the textbooks seem to imply you just plug your personal measurements in here in you’re fit to go.

00:11:24:15 – 00:11:50:19

I haven’t seen any textbooks that address the LBA problem and tell you you need to draft the block two inches more than your upper bust rather than the bust measurement for the LBA to work properly. I’m going to say that anyway because I have nothing to say about the Upper Bust. [crickets] Yes, my whinge is that the assumptions aren’t clearly spelt out and the message you get is that these book making instructions work pretty much for everybody.

00:11:50:21 – 00:12:09:20

But as I’ve shown you, that’s not the case. And that’s why I have come up with systems for drafting the Bodice Block and Pants Block that remove the assumptions so that the end result is good for everybody, not just the ones with the standard ideal figure. And by the way, the classmate I talked about earlier, who was a fit model.

00:12:10:04 – 00:12:36:03

This meant she had the perfect size 10 figure. And so, of course, the block making instructions with the assumed [upper] bust and the assumed shoulder slope fitted her perfectly. She had the ideal figure that fashion industries look for when they hire someone to be the model of their clothes. So in summary, “Why Upper Bust”.. The Upper Bust is a key measurement for drafting the block for different cup sizes.

00:12:36:12 – 00:12:58:16

My system bases the drafting of the block on the Upper Bust so that the block can be drafted with the Bust Cup included and result in a better fit for women with larger busts. So next week, Part 5 and after that, Part 6 obviously. And then I will be redoing my block-making instructions, including a few improvements to my system.

00:12:59:19 – 00:13:21:09

This is Maria from Dresspatternmaking, chao.
….Starlight and dew drops are waiting for thee
Sounds of the rude world heard in the day
Lulled by the moonlight, have all passed away




2 Responses

    1. Hello Crystal

      If you use my latest video instructions – the ones dated March 2022, they will work. The written instructions on my website, my original system, will not work for you. I revised the system because I had some questions from someone like you, who had the same Upper Bust and Bust, but still had a normal to large bust size.

      The key for my (new) system working for you is that you need to use the Arcs (Bust Arc Front & Bust Arc Back…. plus the Upper Bust Arc Front and Upper Bust Arc Back), rather than just divide the Bust/Upper Bust measurements by 2.

      If you really want to understand it and see how it works, watch my videos in the Bodice Block Essentials playlist.

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