Sewing professionals Linda Lee and Louise Cutting have spent the last few years traveling and teaching together, not only at their own hands-on sewing retreats throughout the United States, but also at American Sewing Guild conventions and other national venues. They specialize in working with sewers who have special fitting issues, and they enjoy seeing the results of what a few basic alterations can make in the final success of garments.
What Linda and Louise have discovered is, that while there are certainly many individual fit problems that need to be solved, there are also a few common issues that surface over and over that almost every sewer would benefit from knowing.
Here Linda and Louise share solutions to two of the most common fitting problems they have encountered in their workshops.
FITTING PROBLEM: Wrinkles Below the Derriere
Wrinkles below the derriere can occur as a result of several different problems: a low or flat derriere, or the pelvis is thrust forward slightly. You may not know you have these figure issues because they’re so minor, but the following alterations make a huge improvement in fit for many people. A well-fitting pant should fall directly from the fullest part of your derriere.
Measure 1 1/2 inch down from the crotch point on the back pattern piece and draw a horizontal line to the side seam. Starting at the inner leg seam, cut along this line, stopping at the seam allowance.
Overlap the pattern at the inseam from 3/8 inch to 3/4 inch (the illustration to the left only shows what the pattern looks like after cutting, and before you overlap it). Tape the pattern in place and redraw the inseam to its original shape. When sewing the pants, ease the front seam to the back seam through this area. But since the seam is slightly on the bias, there is more give in the fabric and it is easy to do.
FITTING PROBLEM: Bodice is too tight
Use this technique when the neckline and length of a garment fit you well, but the bodice circumference needs adjustment. You can control the garment circumference with a few easy alterations. If a style is just a bit smaller than desired this is a great way to add ease in the circumference. Check the sleeve length, when doing this alteration; the sleeve becomes longer with this alteration.
1. Adjust the fullness in what we refer to as “No Man’s Land”-the spot along the shoulder seam halfway between the neck edge and the sleeve seam. You won’t bump into any major garment details there and you will be able to take as much excess fullness out as you want. To start, draw a straight line from the shoulder seam center down to the hem parallel to the center front.2. Spread the new pattern pieces apart adding the desired amount of room in the bodice. Tape down the pieces and redraw the shoulder seam from the neck seam to the armhole seam.
For six more tips from Louise and Linda, check out Threads issue #146 available on newsstands on 11/10/09. Techniques include adding room to a sleeve that’s too tight, adjusting a bodice for sloped shoulders or a rounded back, and fixing a collar that keeps falling back.
For more on Louise, check out her website, Cutting Line Designs.
For more on Linda, check out her website, The Sewing Workshop.
Louise's quick fix helps you add circumference to a bodice easily.
Linda's quick solution for fixing pant wrinkles.
Linda Lee and Louise Cutting as illustrated by art director Rosann Berry.