Altering the Feisdress bodice

The Feisdress pattern comes in a full range of Girls and Juniors patterns. There is no specific set for women…the patterns are easily altered. As it is, it is a rare child or teenager that fits one of the patterns exactly and I alter the bodice pattern for every school dress and custom solo that I make.

This post will document how I alter the Feisdress bodice pattern for the ID school dresses I make. Have to admit that I have a free-form approach to this…whatever works. This is by no means a “this-is-what-you-MUST-do” document. (If you are interested in a more technical approach to pattern altering, Susan has one on the Feisdress design cd.) There was a comment at one point on one of the boards that there are no “lengthen or shorten here” lines for altering the bodice…that is correct because all bodies are different and there is not simply one place to cut on any pattern that makes it fit every body, regardless of what we find on the patterns we get at the fabric store. So, here is one way I deal with it.

Below is the measurement sheet we use. I use this to decide which size pattern to use.

I start with the upper chest measurement…most times matching this measurement gives me the appropriate pattern to start with. However, there are times when other measurements (usually shoulder seam and bust) conspire together to make it necessary to start with a different upper chest measurement because my alterations will change it. I begin by outlining my pattern piece only at the neck & shoulders, also marking the shoulder seam and top of the bodice center line (I have put holes in the pattern piece at these points). I have pulled the pattern piece down here to show my first markings. (I actually use pencil since I make mistakes, but I have used black marker here for illustration purposes.)

Next, I mark the end of the bodice center line at the pattern waist line. In this instance, the dancer’s center front measurement is longer that the pattern, so I draw a line through the point at the neck and the pattern waist point to create a longer center front line and make a new waist point at the correct length. I then line up the bottom center point of the pattern with the new bottom point, making sure the center line is on my drawn line, and then I draw the edge of the 2 inch seam for the center front of the bodice. (You can see at the top of the pic below that I have pulled the pattern down to a new length.)

The pic below shows my adjustments – the center horizontal line at the bottom was the original pattern edge, the lower one is the new edge. I have marked the center front line. The right side of the ruler is measuring the full front length, from the beginning of the shoulder seam at the neck to the waist line. I got lucky here…lengthening the center front also lengthened this measurement the appropriate amount.

Next, I alter the length of the shoulder seam – here I have to make it shorter.

Then I check the shoulder slope length from the end of the shoulder seam to the center front waist. Again, I got lucky and the length was right.

Using the new shorter shoulder seam length, I line up the pattern piece and pencil trace the armscye to the top of the bodice side seam so I can check the new bust measurement. It is too narrow (I needed to add ¼’ to the pattern bust measurement to begin with) so anchoring the end point of the pattern (at the arm) to the new end point of my altered pattern, I swing the pattern out to the appropriate bust width and draw the armscye. I check this here.

The pic below shows the completed bodice side. You can see the original bottom edge of the pattern. The finished bodice side seam is in a different place because changing the shoulder seam length and then swinging the armscye out to the correct bust measurement pulled it up. The waist measurement of the pattern matched the dancer so I lined up the pattern piece with the new side seam and drew in the seam (which is 1”).
I now go through the same permutations with the back bodice pattern piece: I draw in the neck, center back line and shoulder seam. I lengthen the center back line, check the full back length (which is correct) and then check the back shoulder slope. In this instance, the shoulder slope is too short, so I mark the correct length which moves the end of the shoulder seam as shown here.

This is a closer look at the moved shoulder seam.

Here I line up the shoulder seam of the pattern with the new shoulder seam to draw the first part of the pattern edge.
Then I line up the end of the shoulder seam of the pattern to begin drawing the armscye.

After I check the bust width again, I finish drawing the back armscye.

Once I check the back waist width, I line up my new front bodice pattern side seam line with my back bodice seam line to draw in the seam allowance shape.

Et voila! My new back pattern piece.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Knitting Maniac
    Feb 15, 2007 @ 21:46:00

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today! I will definitely be back to read yours!

  2. sewtto
    Jan 13, 2008 @ 13:41:59

    Wow! Thanks for the explaination. I think I’ve been adjusting the bodice the wrong way! I think the clouds are lifting! Where can I get a copy of the measurement sheet with picts? I have the Feisdress patterns and have never seen a checklist like that. Can I buy it somewhere?

  3. taoknitter
    Jan 13, 2008 @ 13:50:16

    I have now added the link to the measurement sheet to the end of the post!

  4. Vi Walchuk
    Oct 28, 2010 @ 10:10:31

    I would like to get a Feis Dress Pattern and your copy of measurements and pictures with explanations on how to alter the pattern to a 2 pc Feis Dress. Let me know please what you need or what I need to do.

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