I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I got an email one time, telling me that 4-way stretch knits (that is, knits that have equal stretch in both their length and width) are recommended for many tops because they allow for “busty ladies” to wear them.
That logic never really sat well with me. Certainly 4-way knits have a lot of stretch, and they move well, but for fit, don’t you think you would still need to do a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA)? I’ve been too busy to test it out until today. Plus, I don’t keep a lot of 4-way knits around. But I had some Milliskin left over from Tatiana’s skirts, so I decided to put that theory to the test. I whipped up one of my favorite tops, which I have made before, and I skipped the FBA, letting the fabric do the work. Please pardon the crappy cell phone pictures. We lost power in Irene, so I’m at the studio without my good camera, and I don’t have patience to take 50 shots to get one good one. Here’s a picture of it on me, pulled down after I had just put it on.
Now here it is after wearing it for just a few minutes. I wasn’t doing anything super extend-wise. I just walked around the studio and put some things away.
Again, I apologize for the lousy phone picture, but you can see some telling differences. First, look at the horizontal crease above the bust at my right side. The fabric has pulled up to give more room to the bust. Also, note that the lines from the gathers are pointing more towards the sides in this picture than they are in the first picture. Again, the fabric, even though it stretches in all directions, is adjusting itself to accomodate a large bust.
The problem is that, even with a very stretchy fabric, there isn’t enough room without an FBA for the garment to fall the way it was designed. Fabric is notoriously lazy. It will move around to alleviate strain, even if it has the elasticity and tensile strength to do otherwise. An FBA would mitigate all of these symptoms, and give a more flattering fit with less tugging.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but yes, you do need an FBA, even if you are working with 4-way knits. 4-way knits are great for leotards, swimsuits, and regular old street-wear, but they don’t take away all the fitting issues.