Hello Sewalongers!

Firstly, congrats to Meredith who the random number generator chose as the lucky recipient for the By Hand London Victoria Blazer giveaway! It’s on its way to Brooklyn this week.

On to Bombshell business…. Hopefully you have been able to gather the necessary supplies I outlined here. Your fabric should be pre-washed and ready to go while we begin to prepare the pattern for assembly. A reader pointed out that you should print your instructions in colour. Apparently information is lost when they are done in grey scale.

Have you decided which view to go with yet? View B may be the best option if you need some lift for the girls and are concerned that just adding cups to View A will not be sufficient (or don’t want to insert additional structure). If you go with View C, I will be covering some options for self drafting a matching bikini top (or follow my lead and just make a simple black bottom to mix and match with bikini tops already in the arsenal).

The Bombshell pattern comes in 2 formats: letter/A4 and one sheet of 36×68 paper for printing at a copy shop with a large scale printer. I prefer to have it copied professionally but it is definitely more convenient to print from home. The easiest way to assemble your letter pages is to cut along two edges of each page and overlap your paper seams. When your pattern is assembled, you can certainly cut out your pattern pieces, but I highly suggest tracing them instead. Some pieces for View B are nested in pieces for View A, and if you cut one out and not the other, you will have to reprint the entire pattern if you decide to make the other view down the road.

Using a ruler, a french curve or a steady hand, trace you pattern with your chosen size, transferring all markings and notes. If you are different sizes on top and bottom, simply draw a smooth curve to grade between sizes, making sure you make the same curve on the front and back pieces.

I said “steady hand” but I was very hungover yesterday when I traced this. Please forgive me.

The Bombshell only comes in 8 sizes. If you are outside the range, don’t sweat it! This is a very forgiving pattern to grade up because it is so stretchy. You can simply add what you need to the seam allowances, but I would strongly suggest making a muslin of the lining pieces to ensure a good fit.


If you are of the long or short waisted variety and are used to having to modify your patterns, I highly suggest you make a muslin of the lining pieces. Any stretch fabric will do the trick. This will give you an idea of how much you need to lengthen or shorten it.

Ed.: A note about muslin making… when you sew your lining pieces together make sure you line up the TOP edges of the front and pieces, not the bottom (while also matching the two notches on your side seam). The back lining is much lower cut than the front front lining, since the front lining is eventually covered up by your ruched fabric “skirt” panel.

For the sewalong, I made View B for my pal Izzy. She is 5′-10″ and based on comments from a pattern tester who is the same height, I lengthened the bodice by 3 inches. On each pattern piece there are 2 cut lines. It is better to stretch your pattern at 2 places rather than juts one since it runs the entire length of your torso and you don’t want to distort it too much at only one place.

Ed: The pattern was drafted using my bod as the standard, so I would say the average height it is meant to fit would be around 5′-6″. This may be irrelevant to you if you are long or short-waisted however.

For the lining pieces, I inserted 1 1/2″ at each lengthen/shorten line and then drew a gentle curve to connect the lines. For the ruched fabric pattern pieces (A&B), you want to follow the same method but you will be increasing the amount you lengthen it. There is a ratio of 1:1.6 between the lining and ruched fabric pieces. Therefore, you want to multiply the amount of inches you are lengthening the suit overall by 1.6 to get the amount you need to lengthen the ruched pieces. For example, I lengthened my lining pieces 3 inches and the ruched pieces 4 3/4 inches.

If you are shortening your pattern pieces, I wouldn’t worry about reducing the length of your ruched pieces unless it is a significant amount. You will simply have a touch more ruching which ain’t no thang.

That’s it for today. Tomorrow we will be cutting our fabric and gathering our ruched fabric pieces. See you then!

  • Alicia

    To this end, is there a “standard height” that your pattern was drafted for so we would have a semi-good idea of whether we need to lengthen/shorten it?

  • I would say the standard height is 5′-6″.

  • I just wanted to say that I love following along with this sew along, even if I’m not making a Bombshell

  • charlottepb

    I better get a move on, or I’ll be lagging behind!

  • Keamoose

    Any suggestions on FBAs for view A? I wear a FF/G cup, so I usually have to add 5″ to the bust of everything I sew (plus the extra length that goes with it). How much ease should there be in this pattern? And should I add 1.6x the length I would normally add in the bust area?

  • There is very little ease in this pattern. It fits very snugly. My suggestion would be to grade between your bust and hip sizes (if your bust size is available in the range of sizes). If not, then add what you need to the bust area and multiple whatever length you add 1.6x to your ruched pattern pieces so you don’t end up with less ruching overall. Does that make sense?

  • Thanks Maddie!

  • keamoose

    That helps, thanks!

  • Kirsty Maurits

    I have a question about sizing – my measurements perfectly match the size 16 measurements you listed – is that the size I should make, then? I’m not sure if the size chart on the pattern is listed the finished garment measurements or not.

  • Hi Kirsty! Yes, the size 16 is perfect for you. I don’t list finished garment sizes because I didn’t make the garment in all sizes and therefore couldn’t provide finished measurements for all of them.

  • Jeri Sullivan

    Just so I am absolutely clear..I need to grade the waist by 6 inches and the hips by 10 inches. Should I then grade a total of 16 inches to the riches pieces?

  • Kirsty Maurits

    Ok, not a problem! I just wanted to double check before I started cutting things out 🙂

  • Jeri, can you send me your measurements, either by email or here? I will do the calculations to tell you exactly how much you need to add percentage wise. The 1.6 ratio only applies when you are adding length to the suit. You will need to add a little length if you are adding width to the overall pattern but it won’t be quite that much.

  • Jeri Sullivan

    Sure, they are….

    47 bust
    43 waist
    54 hip
    Also I am 5’7″ and short waisted

  • Okay Jeri. This is the formula I would use if I was grading the pattern specifically to fit your measurements. Trace the unchanging line of the pattern piece (the center seam or the line where the fabric is placed on the fold). Using size 18 pattern pieces, measure at the widest point of the bust. You are going to extend that point by 7%. Taking the narrowest point of the waist, you should add 16% to that point. At the widest point of the hip, add 17% (I got these numbers by dividing the bust/waist/hip ratio for size 18 with your bust/waist/hip ratio). Actually, add 1/2 of the above percentages since the pattern pieces are only half and will be doubled when you cut them out. You follow so far?

    Once you have your new key measurements plotted (widest bust, narrowest waist, widest hip), you can join them together with a smooth curve (tracing the curve of the size 18 piece if possible). Normally I would suggest that you also lengthen all your pieces by 106%, but since you are short waisted you may not need to. Do the above exercise using a stretchy piece of a fabric for your lining parts only and see how the fit is. If it fits okay in the length, you will not need to lengthen any pieces. If you need to add a little to your lining pieces, THEN you would add the 1.6 ratio to your ruched pieces.

    Does that make any sense? Good luck!

  • Jeri Sullivan

    Makes great sense. Thanks!

  • Justine/sewcountrychick

    Is the bust graded for a D cup? I read you said you were a D. So am I .

  • My D-cup may be different from your D cup (cup sizes are very misleading). I graded it for average bust sizes. I fit pretty perfectly in the size 10 size which is 36 across. My advice is to choose the correct size for your bust and then grade your hips down or up accordingly.

  • Justine/sewcountrychick

    I always choose the size for my upper bust which is 33.5. My full bust is 37. I chose a size 8 based on the rest of my measurements. However, I noticed in your photos there is a dart drawn on the bust piece of your lining but It’s not on the bodice pattern piece. is there supposed to be a dart?

  • I hope I’m not skimming over something obvious, but if we lengthen the bodice at the lower line, do we also lengthen the crotch piece by the same amount? Or only the front and back bodice? Thanks!

  • There is no dart on the front bodice FABRIC but there is a dart on the back bodice LINING. I suggest you do a test run of the lining using a stretchy fabric to make sure it fits your bust. The fabric is quite stretch and because of all the ruching I don’t think you’re going to get boob flattening.

  • CRIS

    Hello I just wanted to ask if anybody used a serger. I´ve a Singer and don´t know if I have to change needles to ball point ones. Also, how do I find the grain in a lycra fabric? – Thanks!

  • Don’t worry about switching needles on your serger. The grain line is the where the widest stretch is.

  • christy

    Hopefully comments are still being answered….my measurements are 50,44,51. Am I understanding correctly that I will ADD the extra inches to my seam allowances on all pieces for view b? Actually, 1/2 that since pieces are cut on the fold? For my halter cup I was planning to add 1.5 inches to each side seam. Did I figure that correctly? Thanks!!!

    • Yes, that should work Christy! You may need to add some length as well…

      • christy

        Thank you 🙂

  • Hello – not sure if this is still an active thread, but I am just checking that I am measuring my bust at the fullest part? or should I be measuring my over or under bust? Also, same question for the hip – fullest part of the booty, correct? Thanks in advance!

    • Fullest part of bust, narrowest waist, fullest hip!