Pattern Modifications for Kalle Shirtdress Sewalong // Closet Case Patterns
Fitting, Sewalongs

Choosing a Size + Pattern Modifications + Full Bust Adjustment // Kalle Sewalong

Hello all! Today’s post is all about choosing the right size and making any needed pattern modifications before you cut into your fabric. This pattern is relatively easy to fit due to the oversized silhouette, but I will be focusing on making a full bust adjustment later in this post since I don’t think you should skip it just because the pattern is loose fitting.


Many of us fall in between sizes but unless the difference is more than one size, I don’t necessarily think you need to grade for Kalle. The dress has around 7″ of ease through the hip so it gives you some wiggle room (I am a size 10 in the chest and a 14 in the hip and have been making a straight size 10 because I’ve been lazy). I would go with your chest measurement as a base, and then grade through the waist if necessary to give you more room in the hips. If you are large busted (more than a 2-3″ difference between high bust and full bust), I would suggest choosing a size based on your high bust rather than full bust measurement, and then doing a full bust adjustment as I outline below. This way you are choosing a size that will fit you in the neck and shoulders; an FBA will take care of the rest. Choosing a size based on your full bust when you are chesty will just mean it’s too big everywhere else (for more of an explanation on this, I highly suggest reading this post from the Curvy Sewing Collective – it very clearly explains how cup size effects pattern fit for larger busts).


If you do need to grade between sizes, this pattern makes it pretty easy to do so. You’ll just need to draw a line connecting the two sizes as I’ve shown below.

Grading between sizes of Kalle Shirtdress // Closet Case Patterns


Again, this pattern modification is really simple. Simply cut along the lengthen/shorten lines and adjust accordingly. Just remember that any length you add or remove will need to also be added or removed to the button placket piece (unless you’re making the tunic – the popover placket won’t need to be adjusted).

Lengthening pattern Kalle Shirtdress // Closet Case Patterns


The Kalle dress is designed to sit a few inches above the knee in the front and a few inches lower in the back, with a dramatic scoop along the side seam. If you find the dress too short or want to adjust the hemline along the sides, you just need to modify the hem. Here are a few options.

To make the side curve a little lower (just make sure the side seams are the same length):

Hemline modifications for Kalle Shirtdress // Closet Case Patterns

To make the side curve less dramatic and more like a traditional shirt hem as well as adding length to the front (just make sure the side seams are the same length):Hemline modifications for Kalle Shirtdress // Closet Case Patterns

To square off curves for a straight hem:

Hemline modifications for Kalle Shirtdress // Closet Case Patterns


If you have larger biceps, you may want to measure the arm opening (minus seam allowance) to decide if you’ll have enough room. The cuff is drafted to sit somewhat close to the arm with about 3″ of ease; if you’ll have less than that I would enlarge the cuff. To do that, drop the arm opening the desired amount on both sides equally. For example, if you need to add an inch of ease, drop the opening 1/2″ on both sides. Make sure you add the same amount to the front and back cuffs so they fit the new larger arm opening.

Sleeve modifications for Kalle Shirtdress // Closet Case Patterns


As I mentioned earlier, if you have a three or more inch difference between your high and full bust, I would suggest making a full bust adjustment. Not doing an FBA will raise the front hem, making it shorter than intended, as well as possibly causing fit issues in other areas. To find out how much width you need to add, take your full and high bust measurements. Subtract the high bust from the full bust. A two-inch difference is what we draft for (a B cup). Anything over two inches is what you need to add to the pattern. Since we are only altering one half of the front pattern, you can cut that number in half since the total amount will be added across left and right sides equally.

As a guide, here is how much you should add to the bodice:

  • 3 inch difference = 1/2″ width
  • 4 inch difference = 1″ width
  • 5 inch difference =1 1/2″ width
  • 6 inch difference = 2″ width
  • 7 inch difference = 2 1/2″ width

The method I show below comes from Fit For Real People; it’s different from most FBAs you’ve probably tried since this pattern has a kimono sleeve and no darts.

To start, find the bust point on the front pattern piece. You can do this by aligning the second notch from center front on the shirt with the center of your chest, and then aligning the shoulder of the pattern with your own (take into account the 5/8″ seam allowance). If you’re making the tunic, the center front line is cut on the fold and you should just align the edge with the center for your body. Mark the location of your bust point (your nipple, basically) on the pattern.

Now draw the following 5 lines on your pattern (shown on the cropped shirt but the same process applies for all variations):

  1. Straight line up from side seam to shoulder along arm opening.
  2. Line straight down from bust point to hem.
  3. Diagonal line from bust point to notch on arm opening.
  4. Diagonal line from bust point to side seam just below curve of arm opening.
  5. Horizontal line connecting line 2 and center front.

Full bust adjustment for kimono sleeve and dartless bodice // Closet Case Patterns

To start, cut the arm opening right off. We will reattach after we’ve done the FBA.

Full bust adjustment for kimono sleeve and dartless bodice // Closet Case Patterns

Cut up along line 2 and over to line 3. Leave a little hinge on the end. Then cut line 4 to bust point, leaving a little hinge. Rotate out along the top hinge until you’ve widened the pattern the amount necessary. You will have created a dart on the left side. The right part will now be shorter than the left – cut along line 5 and slide this portion down until the bottom aligns on both sides.

Full bust adjustment for kimono sleeve and dartless bodice // Closet Case Patterns

At this point you can tape the arm opening back to the bodice and fill in the newly created spaces with paper, truing the shoulder seam. This method creates a dart at the bust. However, if you would like to eliminate the dart entirely (in keeping with the spirit of the design), read on….

Full bust adjustment for kimono sleeve and dartless bodice // Closet Case Patterns

To make an FBA without a dart, the method is a little different. Ignore the last image and go back to the step where we had just rotated out the pieces. Now draw a guideline parallel to the center front, at the spot where your pattern pieces were rotated to create width (intersection of line 2 and 4). Now rotate the lower portion out towards the side seam, eliminating the dart.

Full bust adjustment for kimono sleeve and dartless bodice // Closet Case Patterns

Now rotate that bottom piece in the other direction until it is parallel with the guideline you just made. You have just removed the dart.

Full bust adjustment for kimono sleeve and dartless bodice // Closet Case Patterns

You can now tape the arm opening back to the bodice, truing the shoulder seam and filling in any areas with paper. You will have to redraw the bottom hem so it lines up with the piece you lowered earlier.

Full bust adjustment for kimono sleeve and dartless bodice // Closet Case Patterns

And that’s it! A little different from a typical FBA but the principles are the same – you are adding width and length to the front to create room for your bust without affecting the length of the side seams.

I am not going to cover cutting out the pattern since this isn’t something I think many of you need help with. This means we’ll be jumping straight into construction next week, with a focus on sewing all of the different button placket methods we’ve included with Kalle. Let me know if you have any other fitting questions in the meantime.


See all posts in our Kalle Sewalong series. Get the pattern here.

  • I am loving this dartless FBA method!! So cool!

    • Right?! Never would have thought to cut off the arm opening on my own 😉

  • Thanks for both FBA options! I’m wondering if the darted version would end up a little more ‘tailored’ to the body and the dartless version a bit more like wearing a man’s shirt?

    • I wonder! I think teh dart would give a bit more shaping but if it was me I’d rotate it out rather than keeping it.

    • Hi Sue. Did you delete your earlier comment? I Think if you mark where you cut off the bottom of the sleeve and make sure everything lines back up again when you rotate the pieces you shouldn’t effect the length of the side seams.

      • {blush} Well yes I did. When I was laying out the pattern piece, I realized how to adjust it. Thanks!

  • Charlie Wensley

    Hi Heather, I’m wondering whether I need to adjust for my broad shoulders. I’m cutting an 8 based on my bust measurement – although the sizing for the 8 is half an inch smaller than me. I usually find shirts tight across the back and shoulders and have to adjust accordingly and given I’m slightly larger than the recommended sizing I’m wondering if I should do the same here. Having said that if there is a lot of ease through the shoulders then I might be OK. I think I know the answer but I realllllly don’t want to make a muslin!

    • There’s a lot of shoulder ease so you *should* be okay, but if you want to play it extra safe you could always cut a 10….

  • Okay, I’m going to ask this here in case others have the same question. I’m new-ish to FBAs and have only done them on garments with a bodice and fairly fitted waist. I have done the non darted FBA and when I overlay my altered pattern on the original, the side seam is between a size 16 and a size 18. {I cut an 8} Do you think I should be redrafting the side seam at all?

  • Namita

    Hi Heather,
    I am just trying to figure out my sizing. My cup size is.. an E but the difference between my high bust and full bust is only 1.5 inches. So do I need to do a FBA or do I just choose my full bust size… thank you!

    • Kalle Thompson

      i thought i’d chime in here, since this is something i’ve just learned – sewing cup size is totally different than bra cup size! for sewing/sizing purposes, full bust minus high bust difference: 1″ = A, 2″ = B, 3″ =C, and so on. So it sounds like you should be ok without the FBA since Heather drafts for a B, which is a 2″ difference and you are 1.5″. hope that helps!

      • namita barnes

        Thank you!!! That helps heaps.

    • Hi Namita. Based on your numbers I would say no but if you’ve had to do FBAs in the past I would maybe do a quick muslin just to doublecheck.

      • namita barnes

        Thank you! Is am going to do a wearable muslin!

  • Jill

    Hi Heather – Thanks for the FBA tutorial! Will I need to alter the back piece as well for length?

    • Hi Jill. You should not be affecting the length of the front at all along the side seam, so the back will stay the same.

  • meow

    Hey Heather,
    I had a question about the circles for matching up the side seams of the front and back pieces on the cropped view. I did a .75″ FBA to the front plus added an additional 6″ length to the front and back (tall lady over here); now the circles aren’t matching up (I think because of the FBA adding a little extra length in the front). What’s the right strategy for realigning the circles?


  • eloisematchbox

    Hello! I’m wanting to lengthen my Kalle cropped shirt a bit but there aren’t any lengthen shorten lines on the facing pieces in my pattern… do I need to lay them over the shirt pieces and work it out that way? It’s also not said within this post that lengthening the facings is needed. Just a little bit confused whether I will need to! Appreciate any advice 🙂

    • Hi Eloise. You don’t need to lengthen the facings. The shorten/lengthen lines are above the facing area, so just lengthen it your desired amount and the facings will still work!

  • Isa

    Hi!! One of my most needed alterations is lifting the shoulders and making a forward shoulder adjustment. On a regular set in sleeve this means I take a couple of cms out of the front shoulder, and if it feels tight in the neck, I scoop it out a bit more. I was wondering how I might make these adjustments on the Kalle without taking too much width out of the sleeve, do you think scooping out the underarm more would help?

    • I think that adjustment just shifts the seam right? Shouldn’t affect the sleeve. If it does, just drop the unerarm curve a bit so that your cuff will still fit.

      • Isa

        Well it does raise the front top a bit, but usually I have room to spare at the armscye, I’ll try it on the drop shoulder and do what you say if the sleeve feels tight

  • Sandy

    Hiya – I am just about the cut up my tracing and wanted to do some adjustments on paper before cutting out my fabric. I also normally need a forward shoulder adjustment but am a little worried as this has a yoke, collar etc. I also usually like to lengthen the sleeve to just above my elbows as I have a skin issue on my upper arms. I don’t think it’ll look as nice if I connected another piece of fabric to the original so I thought of lengthening it as it is by maybe 3-4 inches – do u think that’ll be a problem? I like the way the sleeve area doesn’t hang out side of the body like most kimono sleeves so a bit worried this will ruin it!

    • Hi Sandy. A forward shoulder adjustment won’t effect the collar since you’d only be shifting the shoulder seam rather than adding any length (or am I misremembering a FSA?) You could certainly try lengthening the sleeve to see how it suits you. We also just added a long sleeve as a pattern expansion in our shop.

  • Sol

    Hey Heather!! I’m trying to decide which size to cut, but I have a serious doubt!! So, according to my measurements I’m a size 18, but then when I look at the finished measurements size 18 is 9 inches bigger, I’m worried it my be a bit too big for my taste, would you
    Y recommend downsizing??

    • Hi Sol! I wouldn’t recommend sizing down. Kalle is meant to have a lot of ease and I’m worried you may have issues in the shoulder or bust if you size down too much. Maybe make a really quick muslin to see?