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

Informal fitting survey

carolfresia | Posted in Talk With Us on

Here’s a question that can help guide us in planning future “Fitting” departments: what part of your body is the most difficult for you to fit, and why? If you could have a private session with a fitting expert, what fit issues would you focus on?



  1. SEWSERIOU1 | | #1

    My main problem area is my shoulders/bust.  I have a rather narrow back and shoulders due to an erect posture, which makes me 'large-busted' for my shoulder size.  However, I find that using a smaller size and making a full bust adjustment just adds more width than I need in the front.  I usually have problems with the back neck being too large and sticking out.  I have tried many ways to compensate for this and none of them are exactly what I am looking for.  This also varies so much from pattern to pattern and style of neck that I get frustrated.  I would love professional advice on how to handle my upper body problems. 

  2. stitchmd | | #2

    My below the waist Rubenesque proportions and contours.

  3. Beth | | #3

    Pants! I have a long crotch length and a flat butt. so I adjusted for that and now have too much fabric in the front.  Oh well, the pants are wearable.


    1. muslinmad | | #5

      definitely pants. It's taken me countless muslins and numerous pairs of pants before I have a pattern that I'm basically happy with. I have large thighs and a pelvis that is tipped forward which causes mayhem with the crotch line.

      1. Stefanie | | #6

        I would say how to fit yourself - especially when it is so difficult to reach behind you or to hems without throwing things off. I for one do not have anyone to help with fitting except for an inexperienced DH.

        Also, how to fit patterns with odd pieces - like something from Sewing Workshop. I do ok on the basics, but then I want to make something different that makes little sense from looking at the pattern.


        1. carolfresia | | #7

          Hi, Stefanie,

          I agree--fitting yourself is the hardest. No matter what part of the garment you're working on, even center front, you distort the garment when you move to pin, so you just never quite know how it's going to end up. I've asked my husband to do some pinning the back at various times, and was kind of amazed by the strange effects he managed to achieve! I'm quite lucky now and can bring in half-finished garments and have someone in the office help me out.

          Also, I have a dress form partially completed at home, which I really ought to finish up one of these days. I used the My Twin kit, and did the plaster part but haven't yet filled it with expandable foam. Once I get that done, I think it will help with some of the hardest fitting problems


  4. pdclose | | #4

    "what part of your body is the most difficult for you to fit, and why?"

    My butt, because I can't see it to fit it (it's behind me :-)


  5. anneelsberry | | #8

    Shoulders, arm scye and bustline, all because I have one shoulder significantly lower than the other.

  6. GinnaS | | #9

    Waist and hips out of proportion to bust because of huge tummy that starts directly under bust and ends in apron at pelvis.   Hip fluff directly below waist.  I am an apple shape when viewed from the side and fairly well balanced with waist indentation when viewed straight on from the front.

    Thanks for asking.


  7. lbbray | | #10

    Oh, absolutely, pants.  I have wide hips (made for bearing children) and no fanny.  Rounded tummy.  My waist is right at my hips so I'm not the hour-glass shape at all.  If they fit my waist/hips, I have a sagging butt.  Come to think of it, straight skirts are the same problem.  I just quit making them and stick to a-line and fuller skirts.

    1. kswolff | | #11

      My two problms are a very short back waist with a bit of a sway; and a substantial bust but small ribcage. I always end up with way too much fabric puffing out in the back like a balloon - very unattractive on anything like a sheath dress or camp shirt just to name a few. The bust issue has been even harder to try fixing. If I increase for the bust then the entire front becomes wider and I look much heavier or even pregnant! (depending on the style of course).

      I would love to have some instruction about altering those areas on both a darted and princess style.

  8. xstpenguin | | #12

    I would have said trousers (ok, you mean pants), but next week I am off to a specialist sewing school for a 2 day course on trousers.  Day 1 - make a trouser block to fit me, Day2 - turn that into a styled pattern and an actual pair of trousers.  I can't wait!

    So cos' that's fixed, I'd say my armscye, something out of kilter with my shoulder line, but I can't figure out what, and also commercial patterns are based on a B cup and I'm an A, not too bad on loose fitting things, but I get a terrible 'sweater girl point' on anything with an armhole princess seam.  Most people seem to want bigger boobs, but it just makes me self-concious!


  9. BlueSwan | | #13

    Fir me it is my hips,I have a large waist to hip differance,13". So if it fits the hips the waist andeverything else is too big, and vice versa. 

    1. Iris_Colo | | #14

      My Votes - 2 biggies:

      European style fitting for Torso, especially armscye.

      Crotch adjustments for pants.

      1. callie1 | | #15

        I say fitting a large bust without ending up with too much fabric elsewhere, like over the tummy.  I end up with a lot of clothes that hang down in back and ride up in front.  I also agree with the idea of how to deal with fitting unusual patterns.  I am an Issey Miyake fan and those patterns are very interesting to fit.  That would be a chanllenging topic.  Amber

        1. dawn | | #17

          I have the same figure problem as Mel.  My waist is a lot smaller than my hips.  


  10. laila | | #16

    small bust, large rib cage, broad back - gaping necklines if I go larger and too tight armseye if go smaller.

  11. Elisabeth | | #18

    My back, since I can't see it and make adjustments well. And trying to make the front look flattering on my ballerina type bust. Most patterns and RTW seem geared towards a B cup and that leaves a lot of room in the front for me. Darts, even the right size, just don't seem to work well unless the fabric is very soft. I would ask a fitting expert how to create attractive lines with shaping seams for a small bust without making the garment look like a shrinky dink type of thing.

    1. edgy | | #19

      pants, pants, pants. Flat butt and low rise, but long waisted. And I can't see to make changes in back. Everyone seems to be complaining about that, so if the staff of Threads could give us a solution besides a hand mirror, it would be fantastic.


  12. JeanEsther | | #20

    Pants: long crotch lenth esp in back, full derriere, fuller front to back and less full side to side, small waist, indentation at spine in back waist that causes the waistband to drop, full thighs

    Chest: Small bust, large rib cage front to back, small upper back. Thank you for the great article in this month's Threads on fitting for small busts!

  13. kjp | | #21

    Pants!!  Especially crotch adjustments.  I'm tall with an ample derrier :)  Also, fitting  styles which are more fitted with higher armscye.   Also, fitting each individual pattern vs. using a sloper to fit each pattern. 

  14. EileenB5 | | #22

    I have not seen this exact problem before but from using slopers fitting garments etc. I think I figured out I am a 10 in the back and a 14 in the front!  This is all well and good, but I always have trouble at the sides, or dresses with out a waist!

  15. SewNancy | | #23

    Pants, pants and more pants!!  I live in them and I make muslins and it seems like they will fit and then I make the Pants.  Well, I am still trying.  Like you whenever I have asked my husband to pin the back strange things happen!  I do have a closet in my sewing room with double doors that I fitted mirrors on  that can be opened to easily see my back.  Very helpful.  I did make a duct tape dress form and it really helped me figure out my shoulder problems.  Also, my collection of fitting books includes the book Fitting and Pattern Alteration by Liechty, Pttberg and Rasband which would be even better if it had photographs!  I have been really considering the plaster bandage dress form I have learned so much about my figure from my duct tape form that I figure the My Twin would be more accurate.  I seem to spend more time fitting than sewing!


  16. mem1 | | #24

    This is not exactly to the point but I would love to know how to draft a sleeve pattern from a sleevless pattern and then to see what has to be done to any jacket pattern which has been developed to wear over a sleevelss top and which i want to wear over a sleeved top.So i guess something about the relationship sleevewise between an over and under garment.

    Appart from that Pants although i have found the Palmer and Pletsch publication on fitting pants to be VERY good.

  17. Huma | | #25

    I would talk to the fitting expert the most about my super round belly.  I am short waisted and carry all of my weight in my stomach.  When I alter my patterns I have to draw out my extra inches onto side of the the pattern and angle back up towards the armhole.  Sometimes I add to much and have to slim down my muslin.  I have a petite frame.  I am always to small in the back side of the pattern and too large in the front tummy portion.  Any suggestions on this type of altering would be greatly appreciated. 

  18. Bernie1 | | #26

    I'm a walking fitting problem - petite but curvy with a small upper chest/neck/shoulder area that baloons out into a 37" bust. I'm small across the back, too, and my waist is small in proportion but I have a high, wide hip and somewhat of a sway back. I would like to see more about fitting for a petite figure because I seem to have to take my patterns in everywhere.

    1. carolfresia | | #27

      As I read everyone's responses to the fitting question, I start thinking,"Is it possible that all of us are walking around with these freakish figures that won't fit into anything?!"  I'm sure we're not--it's pretty rare to see someone who really does have a completely bizarre figure type. We're just all different, interesting variations on some vague "standard" model. But if you compare yourself to that standard, which is basically what happens when you try to fit into a commercial pattern, it can make you feel as though everything about you is a fitting problem. I never really thought of myself as having huge, heavy thighs, but when I try to fit pants properly, I become conscious that my thighs are "too big." So now I try to tell myself that I actually have normal thighs, but a proportionally small waist. HA!

      I'm keeping track of all of your answers, and will be passing them along to our "Fitting" editor for consideration. Both the editor and Karen Howland, who authors many of our Fitting columns, have a lot of experience working with people of widely varying sizes and shapes, so I think they'll be sympathetic to many of the issues you've brought up.


      1. Monkey1961 | | #28

        Hi Carol,

        I have read many articles on creating a sloper to use with commercial patterns, so that adjustments can be made quickly and make your sewing time more productive. 

        I have yet to see any article on doing a sloper for men, and let's face it - the way you correct fit with men is different from women - You don't often see a dart to compensate for a man with a large chest, but a narrow waist, yet I have seen a side seam taper into the rib cage and waist, but flare a bit to compensate for an athletic butt and hips. 

        I looked into a number of companies that have ads in Threads, who sell software for patterns, and am told they do not make a version for mens clothing, or have a very limited selection of basics that can be an add on to a larger version of a womans pattern collection.

        I am 42 years old, and when I was in school in Norwalk, CT the enlightened educators had boys take cooking and sewing for a year, and girls take wood shop and metal shop for a year.  If the industry marketed to woman and men, I am sure they would be able to increase sales.  But if you make it difficult, people will simply say Que sera, sera, and leave it at that.

        I work as a volunteer at a museum, and in the fashion industry, and it is a different world - people do care about how they look, and want clothing that reflects themselves - Sewing at home can increase the options and fit people desire, and be an individual statement instead of wearing clothing that might look good on one person, but bring out features we would rather hide on others.

        Think outside the box!   

      2. suesew | | #32

        One of the problems I have noticed lately is that no one seems to know where their waist line is anymore. (And I'm not talking about those of us who are hiding it behind a little extra fluff). I've had bridesmaids send me their measurements only to discover that they took their measurements around their navel. Or they will call to say the skirt from a ready to wear doesn't fit when they are failing to actually pull it up to their waistline where it will zip up and the hips will fit properly. I'll be really glad when this fashion phase passes; I'm sick of looking at navels at weddings and in church. All in favor of waistlines say "Aye."

        1. FitnessNut | | #33

          AYE!!!!! I've been having a time with this myself, doing the wedding/prom/bridesmaid sewing and fitting. Interestingly enough, my clients over the age of about 35 seem to have no problem knowing where their waist is. And I have to say that it makes my life so much easier. The worst was the 7 month pregnant bridesmaid last year who wanted to wear the skirt of her two piece outfit under her belly because otherwise she looked fat! The mother of the bride was having fits!

  19. rjf | | #29

    I'd ask the expert about waists and crotch seams for tailored trousers.  My body has divorced itself from the old one that worked perfectly.      rjf

    1. CTI | | #30

      A long waist is something that keeps me away from dresses with much form so I go for separates. Darts I ALWAYS have to play with and I just can't seem to manage inset long sleeves - by that I mean when I raise my arm I get a series of wrinkles all the way up to the shoulder and it pulls out at the bottom if tucked into a skirt or pants. I'm leaning towards wrap or otherwise loose-fitting things where they will accompany my changing figure and would rather concentrate on an accessory, like an adjustable belt that I can cinch or hang offset off my hips.

  20. Elaray | | #31

    My waist is practically non-existant. It's very high, my abdomen is large and about the same measurement as my hips. My whole torso is difficult to fit.

  21. Merryll | | #34

    Carol, here I am, a month late again ;~}, but would love to ask if you or the other editors could recommend the very best fitting mannequin available?

    I'm pretty much an X-shaped figure, and other than a few adjustments here and there, have no great fitting problems.  BUT...I would love to purchase a great fitting mannequin.  I always see sewers like Anna Mazur adjusting their creations on a fitting mannequin, and as others have said, fitting oneself is the most challenging.  I know Threads has done articles on fitting forms, but I wonder whether you might consider an updated piece.



    1. carolfresia | | #35

      Hi, Merryll,

      It's never too late--we're always here! My recommendation for a fitting mannequin would be something that very closely duplicates your shape, and this is best obtained with one of the "double" types--duct-tape double, or the kind where you wrap yourself in plaster and then fill the mold with expandable foam. These take work, though, and a good helper who knows what he/she is doing.

      If you can't do that, you can always use a commercial dress form that's more or less your size (more less than more is usually better); you can then pad it out here and there as needed to reflect your shape more accurately. The type of dress form you can buy at Joann's, that has dials and such to adjust its size, might work, too, but I happen to like the kind we have here (the ones you see in issues of Threads, modeling clothes). They  have heavy, rolling bases and are easily pinned into.

      There's also Fabulous Fit, which I've heard good things about. This kit includes a sort of standard-sized form (you pick based on your measurements), a very stretchy cover, and many sizes and shapes of pads to customize it for your personal needs. I believe it comes with a video instructing you in how to pad it. (http://www.fabulousfit.com)

      I think you can get a dress form in NYC--I'll have to ask around for store names, but I know in the garment district there are places that carry these. And you might be able to get them used, as well. For people who are quite off the charts compared to commercial clothes and patterns, this is not as good an option--very tall or short women, or those with atypical proportions, might do better looking into the My Twin kit (plaster/foam filled mold) (http://www.mytwindressforms.com). I know that at some sewing expos, there are classes in which students wrap and tape each other, and everyone goes home with a perfect, custom form.


      1. Merryll | | #36


        Thanks for the info, as always!  Yes, it is the heavy commercial fitting form on wheels that I am looking for, something I can just pad out here and there as necessary and can pin into.  Since NYC is in my backyard, I would love having any resource(s) for them.  Also, must one be in the trades to purchase one, or can anyone off the street buy one? 

        I look forward to hearing from you,


        1. carolfresia | | #37


          Check out http://www.superiormodel.com. They are located on 38th St., and apparently sell new and used forms. According to our NYC sewers' guide, they also sell mail order, but of course taking a drive into NYC to pick your own form always is a good idea, since you could then also visit some neighboring fabric stores. If you need to, that is. You know, just in case there happens to be something interesting to buy.

          This is reminding me that I MUST order expandable foam and finish my own dress form, which is hanging in ignominy in my basement, hiding its paunchy tummy.


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


Shop the Store

View All
View More