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how do you adjust for 3 problems?

cloetzu | Posted in Fitting on

I recently purchased a skirt pattern and made it pretty much as is – I also purchased some cute yet inexpesive RTW skirts… I’m experiencing the same problem with both the pattern and the RTW:

 1. ) I have about a 2 inch forward slope (i think that it what it is called  – where the front of me is about 2 inches lower then the back – ie if I measure center waist back to floor and center waist front to the floor, the front is 2″ less)…  in any case, I’m not sure what the best way to address this fitting problem is on something that is already assembled?

2. ) and to make matters worse my right hip is also about 1/2 incher higher then my left….   so if I wear a RTW skirt or one made striaght from a pattern with no alterations the front hem hangs about 2 inches longer then the back and when I look in the mirror the right is about 1/2 inch higher. AND…

3.) if the skirt has a front panel that is almost isdentical to the back the side seem actually starts straight at the top but then near the hem is actually about 3 inches towards the back – make senses?

My conclusion & questions: 1.) i have to take 2 inches off the front and grade it to the sides (but should it come off at the hem or at the waist?), 2.) I need to either hem the left side 1/2 shorter then right or make the right 1/2 longer (but again should it be done at the waist or at hem?). 3.) I’m wider on the front so need more width – so either need to make the front panel wider or take excess off the back but either way this needs to be done on the bottom half since the top is fine (right?).

I hope I have been clear! I’m looking for solutions that I can apply to these fitting problems on RTW or a pattern that has already been assemebled (if possible).



  1. Teaf5 | | #1

    In answer to your questions:
    1) make the adjustments at the waist, not the hem, so that the skirt hangs straight and on grain. Your new waistline cutting line will not look like the symmetrically curved printed one, but it will fit your body better. This adjustment works best on skirts with an attached waistband; you might not get a faced, shaped waistline to work for you.

    If the waistband if it is a straight one, you don't have to adjust it; if you have a shaped waistband, don't change the waistband but make the adjustment on the top of the lower part of the skirt.

    2) make the left side 1/4" shorter AND the right side 1/" longer to get an overall of 1/2" evenly distributed. Make these adjustments at the waist.

    3)fold out the excess in the center back panel and slash/spread the front panel to get a side seams that falls at YOUR side. I take out 3" from the back and add 3" in the front, but the amounts could be different, depending on your shape.

  2. User avater
    Becky-book | | #2

    Teaf has given you the best way to handle the necessary adjustments to your pattern BEFORE cutting the cloth.  But if the pieces are already cut you will need to do all your adjusting as subtraction ('cause you can't ADD cloth back). After you adjust the waist in front, you may find that the side seams now hang more or less straight, even if they don't hang exactly at your side (make the best of this one and try Teaf's suggestions on the NEXT skirt). The high right hip may be made a little less noticeable after construction (but before waistband) by removing a little from the left side.  Have you tried the skirt on with elastic tied around waist? then you can adjust the top edge until the hem hangs right then mark where the elastic hits the cloth (this is your new seam line for attaching the waistband).

    Clear as mud?



  3. cloetzu | | #3

    Crystal clear and makes sense!  Thank you both!!!

    1. Cathie | | #5

      This is super helpful. I too have purchased several cute inexpensive summer skirts, and am staring at my unfinished skirt. The ladies are really helpful here! Another idea that can help too is a bias waistband (narrow, see Rene Bergh's book), or a ribbon faced/narrow bias faced. I am extremely short-waisted, so, along with tilted/curved waist line, this idea makes it much more comfortable. Also, knowing this, I try for skirts with curvier waists, or change them (I'm not there yet, just on my way). Others of you, may have, like me, swayback, and so need the back curved down too. I have both.

  4. suesew | | #4

    Here's an idea for you to try. Make a tube out of gingham check - a nice ugly large one - that will fit with just a little ease around your hips. Put a piece of elastic around your waist and hang your checked skirt from it. I would usually put the seam down the center back or front where you know it is centered. Make sure the hem is straight. The checks will help you get everything straight. Then with a permanent marker, mark the center front, back and side seams and label them. Also draw a line around the bottom of the elastic. When you take this apart and lay it flat you will have learned a lot about your body shape. In fact, everyone who sews skirt and pants will benefit from this simple exercise.

    1. woggy | | #6


      I was just thinking this morning about taking some gingham about 8- 10 long and cutting a tube to sew around my body, make adjustmets, add darts, mark straight hip lines, etc. to try to get the top portion of my pants to sit right on my body. 

      Can hardly wait to work on this tomorrow! 

      This idea reminds me of a fitting book that maps your body with gingham blocks to draft a pattern for a bodice.


    2. cloetzu | | #7

      Thanks Suesew!  I really like this idea and actaully tried it - with some thick plaid sheeting. 

      It worked for the hem line and the side seams but not the waist - what I mean is that my natural waist (where the elastic wants to sit/go) is FAR FAR too high - it's right below my rib cage and with a large bust and short body (5 foot 1) leaving the waist there would make me look very very wrong. 

      Due to my curves (hip bone and curved lower back) if you look at me from the side a skirt/pant needs to be made to rest much higher in the back then the front.  if it is not made that way or fitted to work that way it will move around and shift to get to that spot and then look really bad..i think I'm doomed to wear ill fitting clothes :( 

      1. User avater
        Becky-book | | #8

        Try tying your waistline with string (no stretch) and making it loose enough to sit where you want it; or try 1 inch wide grosgrain ribbon pinned together to simulate a waistband.  You CAN get this right for you, it may just take awhile!

        Hope this helps,


        1. cloetzu | | #9

          Thanks Becky-book... it's just getting very frustrating.  If i can get it to work once (i.e. get all the adjustments right) then I can apply them on to other patterns or garments - the catch is getting it right...

          I tried again today with another piece of plaid... everything is fine from about my hips down - I just can't get the waist part... the lines I draw (using the elastic as a guide) just don't make sense - I mean I can't 'connect' the lines/dots.. I know it sounds odd but that's my problem - it is odd...  URGGGG

          I'm going to put it aside and then try again next weekend...

          1. User avater
            Becky-book | | #10

            I feel your pain! (I am struggling with sleeves)

            Part of the "disconnected" lines might be because of the "dart leg" phenomenon; you know how funny a bodice side seam can look with dart legs jutting out?  Your waist seam will need darts if it is to form a smooth surface.

            Do you have a helper or are you trying to mark your own back? Twisting around to mark yourself may be adding to the odd result.

            Just some thoughts, trying to help!


          2. cloetzu | | #12

            Yes I am trying to do this on my own... After another attempt I have concluded that because of so many adjustments, it can only be done with a helper.  I'll have to wait until I can have a friend come over to help me.

            thanks again!

    3. mimi | | #11

      Suesew, what a great idea!  This is what they should teach in home ed instead of how to make an apron (do they still do that?).

      The only thing I can add, from 40 years of sewing, is to make sure that the side seam hangs down from the waist matching your side.  You will probably need to add about 2 to 3 inches to the front of the skirt pattern to get this to line up correctly.  I have found that my tummy "takes up" the most room on my figure and if I add a wedge of pattern paper to the original pattern tapering down to my thigh (that is, add two inches of paper at the waist and taper it down the lside.  I have found that graph paper works well for this) this realigns the side seam and allows the skirts/pants to hang properly.

      Of course this does not do a thing for the RTW skirts!  Taking apart the waistband and raising the waist is your best bet, as others have said.


  5. User avater
    CostumerVal | | #13

    A fabulous book that covers all these alterations, is Fit for Real People. Going to need a full length mirror or a friend.

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