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Help! Measurements don’t make sense!

ThreadKoe | Posted in Fitting on

I am trying to make Butterick 5045 fit. According to my upper chest measurement I should be using an extra large. I need to adjust for extra bust, a FBA to make it a 44′, aprox, a D or DD. I did that. The pattern now hangs like a sack, no way it fits. That was muslin #1. So for fun, I cut it out just as is in an XL, no FBA. The front does need to be fuller as it pulls forward, but the back hangs so loose across the back, it looks like it is several sizes too large in the shoulders, and the armholes are huge. I know I have a square back and shoulders, and usually have to adjust for a wide back! So I did a quick take in to the large size, and it still hangs funny. It almost falls off of my shoulders. Do I start with a smaller pattern still or what? I am at a loss here. Help! Cathy

PS, I am just as deep as I am wide, so I am not as big looking as my measurements appear.
OOPS! forgot to mention, I am working on the dress/top/tunic….

I am having this problem with all my patterns. The measurements and tissue fitting says the pattern is going to be too small, but the muslin ends up way too big, esp across the back, except around the hips. The back is almost 4 inches too big, the front 4 inches too small. I cannot seem to think this through… aarghhhhhh
Edited 6/24/2009 10:29 am ET by ThreadKoe

Edited 6/24/2009 10:32 am ET by ThreadKoe

Edited 6/24/2009 10:40 am ET by ThreadKoe

Edited 6/24/2009 11:21 am ET by ThreadKoe


  1. jjgg | | #1

    Where do you live?

    It's a cute pattern, but without seeing you and it I can't help. Sorry

    Ohhh I see you are in Canada, too far away to help.

    Edited 6/24/2009 12:20 pm ET by jjgg

    1. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #2

      Ok, I spent the morning mulling it over, again. I ended up taking a 5/8 seam allowance down the CF and CB fold, and it pulled the pattern in enough that the shoulders are now where they sort of should be, and it fits a lot better. I will have to drop the bust point and pull the dart back a bit, but I think I can wing it from here. What frustrating nonsense! Will try yet another muslin and try to take a pic when hubby is home. Thanks any way. Cathy

    2. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #3

      I have attached two pics to show you what I have going on. Any advice would be appreciated. I am not much good at fitting myself. Thanks. Cathypics removed to make space, sorry

      Edited 9/30/2009 8:03 am ET by ThreadKoe

      1. KharminJ | | #6

        Thinking out loud here, seems like sizing and locating armscyes (and necklines, too, for that matter) could be approached rather like adjusting the crotch shape in pants: measure depth, width and the angle off the shoulder and side seams on a top or pattern that you're happy with, and use *that* shape to rework your pattern. Verging perilously close to "draping" and "drafting" (start from scratch) though, instead of simply "adjusting" ~ sorry 'bout that. My brain's fall-back mode is graphics! It does seem to be getting better, by the pics! I completely understand your frustration, though! BBKharmin

        1. sewslow67 | | #7

          Hi Kharmin!  I was just writing to you on another link; but I am on the same page as you are here, so I'll put that one aside for now.  In fact, I had an old Threads magazine open, (#127, Oct/Nov 2006), page 73.  The name of the article is "For a Great Fit, Start at the Shoulder".  In this article, they have you getting a friend to draw around your shoulder area to get the right shape, slant, etc as a fitting starting point, and then use this to correctly to begin altering your pattern.  Of course, my comment is very, very simplified, but it's the basic idea.

          I wonder if this might help, for starters?  Then, move on to the bust area in the front, and then on to adjusting the back area?  Any thoughts on that?

        2. User avater
          ThreadKoe | | #10

          It would be a lot simpler if I had something I liked to start with, but I don't. :( That is the problem. I have not had the time for serious sewing for myself for many years, and am just getting back into it. My shape has changed sooo much in between. :( It is starting all over again. Cathy

      2. sewslow67 | | #16

        I keep going back to your photos Cathy, and wonder if you need more than the FBA in the front.  Perhaps, in addition to that, you might want to think about using two different sizes when making your garments.  What I mean is:  Use a smaller size for the back than the front. 

        I have found that I always have to cut at least one size smaller for the back piece, as I am very narrow across the back, so I ignore the total bust measurement - and measure from side to side in the front, for the front pattern piece (and still make cup adjustments) and then measure side to side for the back pattern piece - which means that I usually have to cut one to two pattern sizes smaller back pattern piece.

        Does this make any sense?  I hope so.  If not, please ask me to clarify.  I think I've got a bit of brain fog this morning ...ugh!

        1. Teaf5 | | #17

          Yes, this makes sense, and I have to do the same for my petite daughter.  Otherwise, I have to take at least 8 or 9 inches out of the center back seam.

          In my own FBA case, 2/3 of my bust measurement is in the front and 1/3 is in the back, while the front and back on most patterns differ only by a couple of inches!

          1. sewslow67 | | #18

            Thank you, Teal5.  I'm glad it made sense.  Those "one-size-fits-all" patterns never work either.

            I can't remember what book I read about "sort of" ignoring the total circumference measurement but it stressed to do the side to side for not only the bust, but also the hip.  In fact, it had you measuring down the body, with (I think) two above the waist "side to side" measurements and three of those "side to side" below the waist.  And when it came to pants, she said to measure from center front to center back, as body depth in that area was important to good fitting pants.

            I'll look for that information and post the name and author of the book if I can find it in my sewing library.  I hope I didn't sell that book when I moved the last time.  I am regretting selling so many books - over 75 of my cookbook collection and probably half that many (at least) of my sewing books.  I kept all of my Threads magazines though, and I have all but the first couple/three years.  And considering how many cooking and sewing books I have left, I really can't complain.  Still, there are new ones coming out all the time, and sometimes the temptation cannot be resisted.  ;-)

          2. Gloriasews | | #19

            Thanks so much, Sewslow, for this info.  It makes perfect sense!  Why did I not think of measuring this way?  Duh!  This should really improve my fitting issues.

          3. sewslow67 | | #20

            You are most welcome.  I know it sure has solved a lot of my fitting challenges.  I just wish I could find the information in my "brain bucket" as to where that book or magazine is located.  I sometimes wonder if my "bucket" has a leak in it.  chuckle, chuckle

            Gloria, it is so good to hear from you.  What have you been doing lately?  Are you feeling well ...still baking a lot ...sewing fun things ...enjoying life?   Inquiring minds want to know.  I've missed you.

          4. Gloriasews | | #29

            You're bucket isn't leaky :).  One of these days, you'll realize that book was most likely one that you got rid of (isn't that always the way)?

            Thanks for asking - I'm fine, still having my eyes attended to, still unpacking boxes a year later, & still getting rid of stuff.  I haven't done much sewing lately, but will again soon.  I have been baking, though (today it was French bread & multigrain bread, tomorrow potato buns) with great success - I finally have those breads down pat.  I hope you are well, too.  Take care.

        2. SherryG | | #21

          Sewslow67, I read your response and wondered if you had problems getting the two different sizes to meet at the side seams?  It seems that there would be more than just the length to adjust there.

          1. sewslow67 | | #22

            Good question, Sherry; and you are right.  I have to "true" the various pattern pieces.  I always have to adjust the front and back waist length anyway, so I'm on "auto-pilot" on that one.  I generally do the same (two or more different sizes) for below waist as well, as I am almost as flat in the back as the front (no butt is very unattractive ...ugh!), but that is literally in my genes ...or "jeans", as it were.  ;-)

            All of these adjustments are very easy and intuitive.  Once you have your own personal measurements, the rest is easy, and really takes very little time.  It has been totally worth it for me.  I hope it helps you and others as well.

        3. User avater
          ThreadKoe | | #23

          I understand what you mean. I am going to do some number comparisons with that in mind, and see if that would help. I think I am going to have to raise the arm holes as well. All this for what was supposed to be an easy and simple project, sigh... Cathy

          1. KharminJ | | #27

            Indeed! a "lot" of work for this one, but think of the joy and ease to "whip up a few more", once it fits properly!! ;)) Never again, this aggro!Hitting the hay, now - 2 long days in a row at the fabric mines. (yawnn) Sleep well, or not, any way have a great Monday! BB! Kharmin

          2. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #28

            Yes, that is what keeps me sticking with it! Once I have it finessed, I will have a great pattern for a basic dress and tank to wear with everything! Not going to let it bother my sleep, hee hee hee. Mind you, what I am learning is going to make fitting the basic soo much easier in the end! And that is priceless! :) Cathy

  2. sewelegant | | #4

    I like that pattern too, but it is so BASIC it makes me think you'll just have to use it for inspiration istead of fit and alter another pattern you know you have fitted well and scoop out the neck to where you want it.  How hard can it be to make the length what you want after you have perfected the upper part?  Maybe this pattern is supposed to hang like a "sack", it reminds me of the tent and A line patterns of the past.

    Like you I have depth so I find I need to add to the underarms to get the width I need. I find the size that fits my neck and then work from there trying to get it fine tuned like you are doing, but I have never quite figured out my back (!!??).  It is easier for me to use the bodice I drafted and copy design lines from patterns I like.  Have you ever purchased the basic fitting patten from Butterick?  I made the Vogue one.  If you make a lot of Butterick patterns it is worth it to find out how you differ from their basic model as their patterns are made directly off the model as is the basic fitting pattern.  I think I remember you purchasing the Palmer Pletch fitting book and in there they highly recommend perfecting a basic from any of the big 4 pattern companies as they are all very much alike and you will then know what you need to do to alter any pattern from them.  (not the independent patterns companies though).  I know you already know all this, I'm just reitterating it for anyone who might be interested. 

    1. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #8

      My problem right now is that my old patterns no longer fit well, as I have gained/lost weight. The ones that still work are for knits, and I am wanting to get back to working more with wovens. My sloper is for a size long ago...
      I am hoping to be able to get to do another one this summer. Right now I am just desperate for some clothes to wear! I think that the adjustments to this pattern will work well enough for now, as they are just for easy wear summer stuff.
      It is just weird how a pin fit was too small, and then the muslin was huge...and the measurements said that it was going to be too small as well.. Just proves that a muslin is needed! Cathy

    2. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #11

      Sewelegant, I was searching for shoulder fitting advice in past threads, and came across this past advice from you. http://forums.taunton.com/tp-gatherings/messages?msg=7361.8
      Ok, I am going to go on to muslin #4 starting with a much smaller version through the shoulder area, and work my way up. This is beginning to be fun. Thanks. Cathy

  3. Teaf5 | | #5

    Been there, have been equally frustrated, found an interesting tip somewhere and now have better luck:

    Those of us with full busts often have flat upper chests, relatively narrow shoulders, and short back waist length. It's easiest to think of our bodice in thirds: the shoulders, the bust, the rib cage. On a new pattern, I actually slash the bodice tissue horizontally into thirds, fit each third separately, then combine them and smooth the connecting lines.

    We need the top third to be relatively small and narrow both front and back, so that the straps more toward the neck; the smallest size you have may work, or you can take in top of the CB and CF seams.

    The middle third needs the FBA; for a DD, this may mean the front will need to be 6-8" wider than the back.

    The bottom third depends on how your weight is distributed front/back; if the FBA leaves too much in the bottom third, you can use horizontal darts to remove fullness or reshape the side seams.

    You will probably need to do a petite adjustment for the short back waist length, but check where that would be best for your figure. I tend to need to remove 1/2" from the upper chest area and 1/2" from the ribcage area rather than all from one spot.

    The resulting pattern does not look at all like a standard, out-of-package pattern, but that's because it will fit you, not the "standard" fitting model. The Connie Crawford line of patterns has a similar style dress/top/jacket, and the pattern pieces look very much what mine look like after altering. I haven't tried her patterns yet, but that might be a much easier way to go!

    1. User avater
      ThreadKoe | | #9

      I think I will try your thirds idea. I still have room to remove width from around my upper chest, it is still way too big there. I find the straps to far out on the shoulders still. The FBA I can deal with and the little extra width in the front would be nice still. All this just 'cause I wanted a simple shift for a hot summer day... Cathy

      1. MaryinColorado | | #26

        I share your pain!  Mary

    2. sewelegant | | #14

      I need to try this method too.  By getting rid of excess baggage that interferes with my reasoning maybe this will help me understand it all a lot better.


    3. MaryinColorado | | #25

      Thank you for sharing this helpful information!  I will be trying your methods as I have the small shoulders and smaller upperchest that conflict with the full bust too.  Off the rack tops are pulling forward at the underarm seam at the chest area, even though the back is often too loose and the shoulders too large.  I'm also going to look for some patterns with the dolman sleeves instead of set in sleeves I think.  Mary

  4. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #12

    So this morning I am feeling rather silly. After double checking and rechecking all the measurements, this pattern is very generous in the ease. It has 6 inches of ease in the bust area, far more than is needed, no wonder it is huge! So thanks for all the help, and I am going to make it in a size large, taking it in a lot. :) Cathy

    1. sewelegant | | #13

      Don't forget they still expect you to have a B cup size!

      Your post reminds me of the words from a Neil Diamond song about New York:  "except for the name and the place my story is the same one"

      One of my husbands favorite sayings is:  "who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?"  My point being:  I can never believe I can make a better fit if I go ahead and use the pattern size I used when I didn't have all this excess so I always opt for the larger neck and nothing ever fits!  It all has to do with understanding that larger bust adjustment which has taken me a long time to do.

      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #15

        I got it! I won't forget the FBA either. Just because I added padding on parts of the ol' bod doesn't mean that it was added equally to all parts. My neck, shoulders and back didn't get wider through the middle, so I do not need the extra width there! I just need to adapt for extra depth. Maybe some of my old favorites could use a 2nd look, hmmmm.... :) Cathy

      2. User avater
        mlee | | #24

        This may not help you very much, but the idea may be good food for thought: I had a jacket fitting class with Penny Muncaster-Jewell in March. She brought muslins that she had made up using different size pattern backs with fronts. She said that it is most likely that we should use a smaller size back than front. And please do not pay attention to the size. Use your measurements. Most of the ladies in the class used one to two sizes larger for the front pattern. Also, it is much easier to fit a princess line pattern than one that has the front and back cut in one piece each. The shoulder seam as well as the under arm seam will need to be blended in when the back and front sections are joined.Let us know how you finally got your top fitted.

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