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How to Alter Sewing Patterns for Better Fit

Subtle changes improve the fit and hang of every piece you sew
Threads, Issue #209 June/July 2020
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Over several decades of making custom clothing, I’ve learned a lot about garment fitting. Many of my favorite techniques were taught by Roberta Carr and published in her book, Couture: The Art of Fine Sewing (Palmer/Pletsch, 1993). From her, I learned to make some small changes that better accommodate a body’s curves and help a garment hang smoothly over the figure.

These refinements don’t appear substantial on the pattern, but I have found that they make a difference in how a garment looks when worn. They’re easy to accomplish, even for a beginner, and I encourage you to try them. They can take your sewing up a level and give you more to be proud of when you wear your garments.

Add a curve to straight seams

Commercial patterns often default to straight seams, even where the body has a natural curve. You can change these…

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  1. user-7669417 | | #1

    so by adding a curve to the back shoulder seam would that replace an alteration such as 'forward thrust shoulder'?

  2. CarolFresia | | #2

    That curved seam is to provide some shaping over the back shoulder, similar to what you'd achieve with a back shoulder dart. The added ease there might take some of the strain off the front shoulder for a forward shoulder, but you're better off doing an actual forward-shoulder adjustment to the bodice and sleeve cap as well.
    Carol Fresia, Threads Senior Technical Editor

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