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Fit for Your Curves

Pattern adjustments create a garment that surpasses any you can buy off the rack
Threads #219, Fall 2022

If you care about fit in the garments you sew, you’ve probably learned ways to adjust patterns for your figure. For many sewers, the resulting pattern can look unconvincing: Shapes and proportions you’re used to seeing in a commercial pattern have changed enough to make you wonder if the garment you plan to sew will work at all. You’re not alone: Even with many years of fitting experience, I still sometimes hesitate to believe in the pattern pieces I have adjusted.

To keep on track with your fitting, remind yourself that a commercial pattern is a standard size and shape. It is meant to fit a body that looks something like a dress form, with perfect symmetry, erect posture, square shoulders, and few curves. Unless your body has this shape, your personalized patterns won’t be shaped like a commercial pattern. I view the pattern as simply a general starting point. You have the power to make it into something that works for your figure. 

I’’ll share how I adjust patterns for common fitting issues, so you can follow the process and—most important—see how the final patterns come out. We’ll look at a way to accommodate a full bust if you have narrow shoulders and/or a narrow chest. This can help a small-framed individual keep tops, dresses, and jackets from overwhelming the upper torso. Then I’ll show how to add circumference for a full or rounded abdomen. Simply widening a garment at the side seams doesn’t help when you need space only in the front. My approach adds princess seams; I don’t hesitate to add seams if it solves a fitting issue. These enable you to increase circumference and build in shaping where needed and keep a bodice from looking tentlike. 

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