Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

fitting the aging body

DianeN8 | Posted in Fitting on

I am in my late sixies, and have sewn since my 20’s.  I’m about to give it up because of the fitting issues that go along with an aging body.  Here’s what I have to correct on EVERY (top) pattern:  rounded back, forward shoulders, shoulder width, larger and lower bustline, add to the front bottom for an even hemline, and dart placement if there is a dart, or add one if necessary.  By this time I’m discouraged, but it isn’t the end.  If I manage to correct all these things, I often end up with a garment front that swings outward as though it was caught in a breeze. When I take it in, the front becomes quite short. Sometimes the back swings out.  In my younger days I’ve successfully made coats, slacks, any kind of top – all kinds of things.  Now, nothing goes right.  I’ve even tried making the garment from muslim first, making my adjustments there, but often when I make the finished garment, the corrections still aren’t right.  What am I doing wrong?  Sewing shouldn’t be this difficult or frustrating.


  1. sewslow67 | | #1

    It would save a lot of time if you would just buy a fitting pattern, (most patterns companies have one) and make all of the adjustments on that one basic.  After that, you can use your basic to quickly adjust every new pattern you want to make, no matter how many changes you need to make.  I wouldn't suggest this if you only had to make one or two adjustments, but with several, this is the easiest and fastest way.

    Also, when making your basic muslin, use 1/4 inch checked gingham, or use that "fabric" like pattern material.  It makes the adjustments much easier.

    And you are right: sewing shouldn't be that difficult; sewing should be fun.  Good luck and let us know how things are going. 

  2. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #2

    Artfulenterprises gave a wonderful helpful list of the order of fitting changes. Post http://forums.taunton.com/tp-gatherings/messages?msg=9322.27 You might find this helpful when making multiple changes. When one change often affects another, doing them in order prevents you from jumping in and solving problems that "self-solve" by the end of the proceedure! I hope you find it as insightful as I have. Perhaps a more fitted style with a princess seam might fit the bill for your fitting? Cathy

    1. sewslow67 | | #4

      Hey Cathy; this is very helpful information, so I made a copy to put in my files.  Thanks for the link.  OK ...this is it for now, as I just managed to burn the steak for dinner.  Wow ...that really takes a lot of talent to burn steak! ;-(

      BTW, an acquaintance offered me a lot of fabric that she's decided that she will probably never use (she's stopped sewing and is now a successful home builder).  At first, I wasn't too enthused because of the size of my own stash - which is dwindling, but still too much for my preferences - however, I've decided to say "yes"; here's why.

      She said that she has a lot of cotton fabrics, and I thought that I could make a bunch of children's clothes to put into a "Kid's Closet" at our church, so that children who needed (or wanted) something new to wear could go and "shop"there.  They could put something into the church offering (a penny would be just fine) as "payment".

      I hope she follows through, as my hope would be that others would contribute to the project as well.  This dreadful economy has put a lot of burden on many families - even for those of us who are older - so this might be a bit helpful, even though it's a drop in the bucket.  And it might put a smile on a cherished little face.

      1. Josefly | | #5

        What a kind and generous thought - to use your friend's stash to make clothing for a "kids' closet" program. I sometimes wish I had children to sew for, because I see such cute things made for kids. I'll bet there are others who would enjoy it too, in your community. Knitters and crocheters would also contribute. Good luck with the endeavor.

        1. sewslow67 | | #7

          Thank you, Josefly.  I  was hoping to remain anonymous, but the pastors wife said something about the "older" young girls who might want or need something for one of the school dances, which would mean that a fitting would be in order ...esp. if the dress were strapless, so I guess I'll have to play that part "by ear" as musicians would say.

          I'm not sure what I'll do when I run out of fabric though, as I'm not in a position to buy a lot right now.  However, by then, maybe the economy will pick up and it won't be an issue.  Anyway, thanks a lot for your kind remarks.

          1. KharminJ | | #9

            Oh, the economy will pick up, sooner or later - and the more wisely confident (instead of frightened and gloomy) we think and act, the sooner! Meanwhile, when you get closer to the bottom of your stash, perhaps other members of the congregation would be willing to contribute fabric and/or notions to your effort (or join you in sewing!) for the less fortunate? That *is* a simply wonderful idea, BTW!If you *do* decide to make dresses too, it wouldn't be unreasonable to ask for a nominal contribution in exchange - especially if there are fittings involved - that's a LOT of work to donate! And it would help the girls recognize the value of what you are willing to do for them. (Cash or in-kind. Remember the Doctors who got paid in chickens and produce when there wasn't enough money?)

            Bright Blessings to you and this project!Kharmin

      2. frygga | | #6

        What a wonderful, sweet idea. And---though we often think first of children and the joy they can take in a gift---I imagine there will be older girls and women who also would take joy in such a 'closet'. Middle- and older-aged women are forgotten and invisible in our society and not focused on the way children are. There are so many unemployed women now---perhaps they can give back to the 'closet' in time and skills they can't use at work right now? My sister is not employed at the moment, but is volunteering now and taking a lot of enjoyment and pride that she still has a place to take her skills and energy.

        1. sewslow67 | | #8

          Thank you so much for your kind remarks.  And you are absolutely right about "the invisible woman" who might need a new garment to wear for a job interview, too.  We had one of those "ladies closets" in a city where I used to live, and it was very helpful to a lot of women looking for jobs.  When I retired from the corporate world, I gave most all of my clothes away for that very reason, i.e. to help those who might need them.  After all, what on earth would I do with a bunch of suits and silk blouses when I was home all the time?  It would have been selfish to have kept them. 

          It is heart-warming to hear about your sister doing volunteer work.  I also heard on the news recently that volunteerism has picked us a lot since the economy has caused so many to lose their jobs.  It's a good side affect for a very painful problem to many who have suffered job losses.  I suspect that she is loved for what she contributes, yet still may need a job.  I shall pray that she finds a good job if that is her need and preference.

          Thank you again for your supportive remarks. 

          1. Josefly | | #10

            You make a very good point about what happens as your fabric stash diminishes. It will take a great deal of self-restraint to keep from dipping into your own pocket too much, so you'll need support from others. Another poster suggests that other people might donate fabrics and trims, and I think that's a good possibility. But I can see how difficult it will be, if trying to make a prom dress, for example, to come up with all that you need just from the stash - that would almost be a miracle. It's one thing to put things together yourself to make an outfit from what you have on hand, but when you start making things specifically for an individual, taking the time to do fitting, etc.,... I see the difficulties which might arise.Not trying to discourage you - as I said before, it's a wonderful, generous thing to do. I just think you're wise to be specific about what you can offer, and what the limitations are, unless you're supported in the effort by others in the church.

          2. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #11

            I think making fancy dresses for the young ladies is a nice idea. Before you dip into your stash, make an effort to recruit some dresses hiding in closets from church members first! Lots of dresses could come out of hiding and be reworked for them and be fitted for them easily. There are some programs for this in large cities, not so many in small towns. The hard to fit young ladies would benefit most from a handmade dress. You would still be able to use up your stash quickly, without having the expense of buying fabric all the time. Cathy

            Edited 3/20/2009 11:32 pm ET by ThreadKoe

          3. sewslow67 | | #12

            Thank you, Cathy; I think it just might turn out to be great fun, along with possibly putting a smile on a few girls faces.

            As for the more formal dresses for dances etc.:  I can remember a vogue pattern I used for my jr./sr. prom that I made that had many, many pieces just for the bodice alone.  I wish I still had the pattern. 

            I'll try to remember to grab a photo when we drive down south next time so I can post it.  It was made of a lovely rose silk taffeta with the same color of lace all over it.  I sewed the two fabrics as one, and it "swished" so nicely when I moved.  I felt like a princess.  I would love to make a few dresses like that for the girls today, so they too, would feel like a princess.  Everyone should have that experience at least once in their lives.  I can remember it as if it were yesterday ...and that was 53-years ago!

          4. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #13

            Tee hee hee, yes, every young lady should have the chance to dress up and feel like a princess! I posted my youngest daughter's pink prom dress when I made it last spring. I also made my eldest daughter's dress. My middle daughter had her godmother, who has two sons, make hers. It really is fun, and an interesting challenge. I wish I had the chance to do it more often! Cathy

          5. sewslow67 | | #14

            Oh, do let me know the link so I can enjoy the dresses you made.  I would love to see it/them.  What fun.  My daughter was not the "prom girl" type, and refused to attend hers, so I missed out there. 

            But I remember my sons prom, and the darling girl he took ...and their friends.  I have a photo of the six of them just before they got into the limo.  We didn't have limos in the small town where I went to high school.  But we had a great time, just the same.  Aren't memories just the greatest?  Photos can be lost or get burned up in a house fire, but no one can take what is in ones mind.  God is great for giving us our minds ...dwindle as they might as we age. 

          6. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #15

            link to pic as requested! http://forums.taunton.com/tp-gatherings/messages?msg=8551.1 I had a heck of a time with getting the bodice as she wanted it, but was worth all the work. Cathy Now if I can find a decent pic of DD1's dress, I will post it for you also

            Edited 3/21/2009 1:01 pm ET by ThreadKoe

          7. sewslow67 | | #17

            Oh my, Cathy.  What a beautiful girl in a beautiful dress.  As someone else said in that threat, "elegant"; yes ...elegant indeed!  Thank you so much for sending the link so I could enjoy seeing your darling daughter (what a little beauty she is) and the exquisite work that you do.

            It looks like you may have used a sheer, or crystal-like fabric on the over-skirt, is that right?  If so, can you tell me the name of it?  It reminds me of a fabric I used for one of my dresses, and I just loved it.

            Thanks again for sharing the link.  I'm looking forward to seeing the next photo when you find it.  ;-)

          8. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #19

            The skirt was crystal like wasn't it? Thanks for the good descriptive term! It was a shimmery organza, with a real sparkle to it. The satin just seemed to make it really shine. It was really shimmery in sunlight! Her Best Friend has already borrowed the dress for her formal at Christmas, tee hee. I am glad to see the dress worn more than once! I am still hunting for her sister's pics....they have been put in a box around here someplace....gotta put them in an album soon! Cathy

          9. sewslow67 | | #22

            I had to chuckle about your saying "putting pictures in an album soon", because (and I'm embarrassed to say) that I need to do that too.  I've got all my photos organized by year, month, day ...in several huge boxes ...because I haven't gotten a "round-to-it" since my daughter was but a few months old, and she is now (blush) 42-years old!!!<!----><!----><!---->

            My kids have been bugging me to get with it for years, and I'd best do that soon, too or they will inherit boxes - organized at they are - including several empty albums.  My plan though, is to make just one master album with lots of notes and stories mixed in to go with the picture, and then make copies of it for each child and each grandchild.  I thought the grandchildren, especially, might think it was fun to read some stories about their parents when they were kids.  <!----><!---->

            I've already written stories that my grandmother told me about when she was a child and also when she was first married.  My daughter, in particular, loves them and said she ROTFL herself to bits.  My darling maternal grandmother was a hoot when she was a young lady, and I am so grateful she shared her life with me.  She also wrote poetry about her life and that of her daughter (my mother) and about my sister and I.  I have all of her poetry in her original handwriting and it is one of my cherished possessions.  Well, I digress, so I'll stop with the babble. 

  3. suesew | | #3

    Many of us have many of the same problems - but isn't ready to wear even worse - none of those changes have been made and nothing fits. Good luck. Keep trying.

  4. User avater
    artfulenterprises | | #16

    Hi DianeN8Do you have an example of your "blowing in the breeze" garments that you could model in a photo for us? We might be able to see where the problem lies. I suspect the issue has to do with where you have placed your shoulder seams. You may need to lengthen the back shoulder and shorten the front shoulder to allow the garment to fall into it's proper position. If you put on the garment, release the shoulder seams and allow the dress or blouse to hang properly, you can clearly see where you need alter front and back. Be sure the neckline sits where it's supposed too. The seam line should sit directly on top of your shoulder at the mid point of the neck to shoulder tip. When you look at the garment from front or back, the shoulder seam should be almost invisible.Hope that helps!

  5. Ckbklady | | #18

    Hi there,

    I sympathise - I have similar issues with fitting. What helped me the most was buying and reading and using the Palmer/Pletsch book "Fit for Real People". I love Pati Palmer and Susan Pletsch! In the book they directly address the fact that aging bodies create new fitting issues - they actually have a chapter called "Is Age a Size?", and the "real people" models are all ages and shapes, and are demonstrated in detail. They also put a much more positive spin on the whole idea of fit, and remind us of our wonderful minds, perspective and experience that fit doesn't affect. They add that most people need to adjust patterns, since no pattern is universally fitting for all, just as lots of off-the-rack clothes don't really fit as well as we'd like. I have used their advice and methods and created compromises for myself - I figured, heck, if most ready-to-wear wouldn't quite fit me anyway, why should I obsess about making a perfect sewn garment? I sure do my best, and I must admit that I do purposely avoid very fitted patterns, but they get the credit - they gave me perspective on fitting, sewing and appearance that I didn't expect from a book. They also gave me ideas about reinforcing tissue patterns to fit directly on myself, and advice to fit as I sew. I hate making muslins, and while they do suggest them occasionally and suggest at the beginning of the book doing a gingham "fit pattern" from one of the major pattern companies, they put that aside and move on to tissue fitting, which saves time and muslin dollars.

    I can't praise this book enough - it made garment sewing fun for me again. Now I want to save up and attend one of their fit classes at the Fabric Depot in Portland, Oregon. Someday....

    I should mention that the book specifically addresses all of your fitting issues as you listed them- I have the book in front of me and am looking at the index. I suggest you check it out of the library and "test drive" it. It may have the advice and lighthearted good cheer to encourage you to keep sewing. Don't give up - there's so much pleasure to be had in sewing!

    :) Mary

    1. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #20

      "I figured, heck, if most ready-to-wear wouldn't quite fit me anyway, why should I obsess about making a perfect sewn garment? I sure do my best,"
      THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! Very astute, profound words of wisdom! Puts it all into perspective does it not? As long as we do our best, and try to fit to the best of our ability, and learn as we go, have fun doing it, and wear our garments with pride-WE ARE SUCCESSFUL! And we look darn fine! Cathy

      1. Ckbklady | | #21

        Hiya Cathy!

        Thanks! I really do feel that way - I'm glad it appeals to you, too!

        I used to roll my eyes at aphorisms like, "Good enough is good enough", and, "Doing my best is the best I can do", but they really are starting to sink in. I really think there are enough things in life to take really seriously. When I start taking even my leisure pursuits too seriously, where's the room left for fun? I don't want sewing to stop being fun. So what if I have a less-than-perfect fitted bodice on a shirt I made? I bet nobody notices but me, anyway.

        And you're right - we DO look darn fine! :)

        :) Mary

  6. platexas | | #23

    If you, or a friend, is at all up to using a computer, I can HIGHLY RECOMMEND Wild Ginger's Pattern Master Boutique. I have ALL your issues, plus several more and PMB has been a godsend. It's simply a matter of getting the measurements in correctly, and then out spews all kinds of styles, including pants. I'll admit that getting your measurements correct is no easy task, but with the help of a sewing buddy (or DH, as in my case), AND following the instructions to the letter, it all works.Good luck. I've tried everything else and this really works and is EASY.

This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All