Carrying on from last week with the theme of fit, this is a post that I’ve been promising myself to write for so, so long and today I finally I got off my butt to write it. So, I’m sharing all of my fit notes and pattern adjustments that I make whenever I start a sewing project. By sharing this, it might be useful for you too and it also reinforces the fact that in the same way that off-the-peg clothes are designed for an industry average it applies to sewing patterns too. Patterns are designed for an average set of measurements or a fit model chosen by the company. Nobody is the same and alterations are often a necessity.
Before I get going, I thought it would be useful to start off with my measurements and to list the fit issues that I personally need to address in varying degrees (depending on the design) for my sewing projects.
- I’m 5’ 5” (165cm) tall or maybe a smidge more
- Bust 35.5” (90cm)
- Waist 32” (81cm)
- Hips 37.5”(95cm)
- Width across my upper back 14.5”(36.7cm)
- Inside leg 30”(76cm)
The areas that cause fit issues are:
- Forward-rolling shoulders that are fairly square from the front view.
- Slightly narrow across my back width
- DD bust
- Small ribcage under my bust
- Wide waist compared to hips and my waistline dips down at the front.
- A flat and low bottom
- Knock knees (fleshy pads at my inner knee)
Starting at the top and working my way down, I’ll talk you through my adjustments, so let’s begin!
A symptom of my forward rolling shoulders is that clothes feel like they’re riding backwards and I’m continuously tugging them up and forwards, and sometimes the front neckline gags me across my throat or it can feel like it’s too wide at the front, in which case I have to cut a narrower front across the armholes and sometimes I do an alteration similar to this mentioned in this post on Cashmerette
I ‘square off’ and add a bit on to the back shoulder line. The front shoulder has a little shaved off it but I also found out that I need to angle it down a little too and a result of bringing the front shoulder line down means that I lower the front neckline a little as well. Here’s a diagram because a picture is worth a thousand words as they say:
Sleeve Head Adjustment
Having moved the shoulder seam to a more forward position a knock-on effect is that the seeve head needs to be adjusted too, with the centre line shifted.
A horizontal line is drawn across the sleeve cap and the whole thing is shifted forwards by the same amount that I moved my shoulder line. I then blend in and re-draw the sleeve head curves.
Upper Back/Shoulder Combo
As well as my forward shoulders my upper back is a little rounded over my shoulder blades and high-set. I don’t really need extra width across my back, what I need is for the fabric to contour around my curves where my arms are set in a more forward position, so I create shoulder darts. On some patterns, I just add a dart by drawing one (about 3″ long) halfway along my shoulder line and compensate for the fact that I’ve removed shoulder seam width by adding a bit back on at the armhole edge. Sometimes though, I also need to raise the back neckline up. After I’ve already squared off my shoulder line I create a dart and add a little more depth. Here’s how:
I’m a DD cup but I don’t always feel like I need a total FBA which would give me more width across the front, instead, what I tend to need is extra length only. If a pattern already has a dart I often need to increase the intake of the dart and if there is no dart at all then I create one myself. I just think a garment hangs better with darts or some shaping via seams. My little pet peeve is seeing angled draglines on a top or dress that picks up at the front. If there is no dart at all here’s how I create one:
- First I mark the bust points (I hold the pattern up to me and mark the position).
- Next, I draw a line across at bust point level that angles down at the sides (approx 2”-3”(7cm) down from armhole)
- I open and spread the pattern the amount of extra length needed.
- I draw the dart stopping short of the bust point (a dart should finish about 1” (25mm) before the bust point for smaller busts and 2”-2 ½”(6cm) before for larger busts)
- Finally, I make sure the side seam is trued.
For a pattern that already has a dart (which isn’t big enough), I go through the same steps but just slash through the middle of the existing dart and through the pattern then spreading it and widening the dart.
I always have to increase the width of waistlines. The absolute simplest way is to just grade out and add some extra width at the sides.
On a standard pencil skirt pattern, I simply add some width at the side on the front pattern piece but on the back pattern, I do a combination of things.
So, I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I have a flat bottom, therefore on a skirt, I don’t need the fullness created by the usual two darts. What I do is completely omit the two darts and draw a single one positioned in the middle of where they would have been. I also lengthen it a bit. Once I’ve done this I check the back waist measurement and if I still need more width I just add some on at the side.
Well, I covered a whole lot of stuff on this subject last week in my post about pants fitting, but I’ll quickly go over my general adjustments here as well.
- I make sure to widen my waist.
- I have to make the front crotch curve is shallow to the point of it being almost a straight diagonal which then curves out for my tummy.
- The back crotch is much longer than the front due to my waistline dipping down at the front and on a close-fit pant is also angled quite a bit for sitting comfort.
- I do a considerable knock-knee adjustment by adding width at the inside leg. If you scroll halfway down this Threads post you’ll see a great little diagram that illustrates what I did on my pattern (weirdly the technique described for a knock knee adjustment on Closet Core patterns whereby you angle the legs out does not work for me at all, but this may be to do with the angle that my legs exit my pelvis).
- Finally, for a nice fit over my calves, I developed a centre contoured seam detail at the lower back leg (diagrams on my pants fit post also)
Well, I think that about covers my personal fit story. I can’t think of any more alterations that I do, but if something comes to mind I’ll add it.I hope perhaps you found some of it useful for yourself? Let’s chat in comments.
And finally, one of you lovely lot asked me a question two weeks ago in comments. The question (from Angela I think) was about front closures that always seem to gape. It wasn’t clear from the question where the gaping was happening so, for now, I’ll try to think of as many causes.
The most basic one which can cause buttons to gape in between is if something is tight across the front and then you need to add some extra width to the front pattern in the form of an FBA. Buttons that are sewn on too tight can also cause bulging of the fabric once the buttons are fastened, so be sure to create a little shank with your thread when you sew buttons on. If the gaping happens around the neckline above the closure it might be caused by too much width across the front neckline. Another cause of neck gaping above a closure might be a bit too much length from shoulder to bust point.
I can’t think of any other causes of gaping at the moment but if anything comes to mind I’ll update this too.
Ok, then. That just about wraps it up for this week. I hope you enjoyed your tea/coffee break while you sat for a read. I’m really excited that I’m finally getting some fabric to start my Vikisews Emannualle coat but I’m guessing it’ll be a looooong project so I’l maybe make a top in between coat stages so that’ll be my sewing sorted. I’ll hopefully catch you next week.
See you soon!
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