One of our most popular patterns of late is the Gilbert Top. This beginner-friendly button up top is fun to sew and has a loose, easy fit. It features an optional tie front and a great camp-style collar. It’s no surprise that it has become a fan favourite! Check out the almost 3000 hashtags on Instagram to see what people have made using this pattern.
One question we get about this design is: Can I remove the bust darts? Yes! We want to go through how you can do that in this post today. This alteration is excellent for folks with smaller cup sizes or people without a bust.
Gilbert was drafted for two different cup sizes—a B cup for sizes 0-22 and a D cup for sizes 12-30. Each size includes a bust dart at the side seam of the bodice. The top also has added length at the center front to accommodate a bust. We need to remove both of these design elements to eliminate the dart and adjust the pattern for small or no bust folks.
We are going to share two methods today. The first is a full adjustment and the second is a ‘quick and dirty’ way to get to the same result. Both work well so just choose the method that appeals to you the most!
How to remove a bust dart from a sewing pattern
First, draw a vertical line from the hem of the garment to the dart point. Cut open this line as well as one of the dart legs. Leave a little bit of paper at the dart point to create a hinge.
Close the dart by swinging the side of the pattern over. Add paper underneath your pattern and tape your pattern to it.
Draw in the seam allowance along the armscye of the pattern. For the Gilbert Top pattern, the seam allowance is ⅝” (1.3 cm).
Draw two new lines connecting the opening at the hem of your pattern and a point on the lower armscye (just eyeball this point). Clip into the armscye seam allowance to the point you have chosen but leave a small paper hinge.
Cut along the right line of the triangle you just drew (#3) and swing the side the pattern closed again. This has eliminated the bust dart.
Trim off any excess paper at the dart and re-draw the hem of the top. You will be shortening the top here, drawing from the side of the pattern to the center front with a slight curve.
If you prefer your tops to have a loose, boxy fit and do not want much waist shaping, you can straighten out the side seam of the front of the top. This is optional.
Quick and dirty way to remove the bust dart from a sewing pattern
For a loose, boxy design like Gilbert, we don’t need to do all those steps above to get to the desired result. We can quickly eliminate the dart by simply drawing a new side and shortening the pattern by the amount of the dart opening (leaving a little bit of a curve in the hem). How much the side seam is shaped is up to you!
As always, we recommend sewing a muslin of your project, especially after making adjustments like the one in this post. Test your work to see that everything is looking the way you want before you try it out in your precious fabric.