The story of the need for the Full Bust Adjustment according to Mercedes Christian-Anderson

I have been asked a couple of times now to expand on my comments on the Full Bust Adjustment. So I thought I would tell you a little story that I hope will explain all about why it is needed and how to choose the correct size pattern to do your FBA on.

I may have used a bit of artistic licence on some of the details of this story.

Once apon a time there were men. To make them clothes simply and easily a tailor decided to make a standard pattern. This pattern set up standard measurements for shoulder, armscyes, body length etc and to distinguish these patterns they were referred to by the chest measurement.

Then another man decided there was money to be made by making a standard set of patterns for woman. But this man was lazy and worked out that the man’s chest measurement was the same as a ladies high bust measurement. So all he needed to do was to take the men’s patterns and to change them to a ladies pattern was to add 2” to the chest area to allow for the boobs. To distinguish these patterns they were referred to by the full bust measurement.

So what that means is if your chest or high bust is 36” as a man you would need a 36” pattern but as a woman you will need a 38” pattern, because the men did not want to confuse us ladies by not measuring the largest area of our chest.

Husband described this as more a scary then a disgusted look.

However, what this man did not realise was that woman are not all clones and some of us have bigger boobs than others, meaning we have more than 2” difference between our high bust and our full bust. This is when the FBA came in to existance.

So to chose the correct pattern size for your body (not your boobs)

Measure your high bust 

As you can see I am a 36” high bust.

So the correct pattern size for my body is a 38” Bust pattern (a 36” chest pattern + a standard 2” for my boobs as dictated by the man).

Now the correct size pattern for my body is established I now have to decide if I need to do a Full Bust Adjustment (are my boobs bigger than the 2” standard)

As you can see my full bust measures 41”. This is 3” more than my 38” Bust pattern. 

I will therefore need to do a 3” Full Bust Adjustment to my pattern

I hope this all makes sense and please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions on the wonders of the FBA.

8 thoughts on “The story of the need for the Full Bust Adjustment according to Mercedes Christian-Anderson

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve always heard that you needed an FBA if there was a difference between your high bust and full bust measurements. Which is correct. But the difference for me is 2 inches. Which, I now realise is why every FBA I’ve done hasn’t worked, I always end up with too much fabric in the boobage area! I’ll have to learn to make other adjustments now as my shoulders and underbust are narrower, but that’s a simpler job.

    And your picture definitely looks disgusted. I’m imagining you saying “Typical!”


    1. I am so pleased this has been helpful to you Mairead. Narrow shoulder is a nice adjustment to make but I have never done an underbust adjustment, though my first instinct is to use darts. Enjoy your fitting x


  2. Hi Mercedes. At last is all I can say. Having read just about every FBA guide going and following them religiously I ended up with a garment that closely resembled a marquee, most definitely much bigger than a tent! After many a tantrum I had a lightbulb moment in the middle of one night. Use your high bust measurement, add on 2” then work an FBA for the difference. And bingo the closest I have come to an appropriate fit first time around. I am with you on this! Thank you


  3. Using your example, why wouldn’t you just start with a pattern that corresponds to your high bust and do the fba from there? So pick size 36 pattern and do a larger fba rather than size 38pattern and smaller fba?


    1. Thank you so much for your questions. It sounds sensible but a 36” bust pattern is designed to fit an average 34” high bust body, shoulder length arm scythe etc. Though of course that is the average measurements that the individual pattern companies have decided to use. Indie pattern designers who specialise in multiple cup size patterns, Cashmerette and Chalk and Notch for example, now include the high bust measurement in their sizing charts along with the full bust measurement so the correct pattern and cup size can be selected. However both these companies refer to their patterns in the old 12/14/16 methodology, not by the high bust and even these do not match exactly across the companies.


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