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Is pattern size too big?

fabricholic | Posted in Photo Gallery on

I tried on this blouse I had been making a few weeks ago, and realized that it was hanging off my shoulders, even though I took off 1/2″ from the pattern. I knew I messed up on the neckline. Didn’t realize it was so low cut and I was going to put a piece to cover my mistake. I wouldn’t wear this, but I would like to know your opinion. Is the pattern too big? It fits everywhere else. Is it just the shoulders and neck that are too big and how can I fix the next time?



  1. fabriclover007 | | #1

    Not that pattern is too big but not a good pattern for you.  Some patterns just don't go with some body types.  My body type is like yours; please don't take offense. but ample busted with narrow shoulders.  If you look at yourself face on in a mirror your arms sit out quite a ways from where your shoulder ends.  This top has to fit this way so it can "carry" the width of the fabric to reach your arms.  Otherwise it will look strange and/or won't be wide enough to fit.  Try pulling up the fabric so the shoulder seam sits at the end of your shoulder (ignore the bunched up fabric in the front) and you'll see what i mean. 

    Contrary to what's often published, those that have larger arms & ample bust are actually often flattered by an extended shoulder as it positions the end of the  shoulder and beginning of the sleeve seam to 'fall' off the shoulder and cover the arm.  A short shoulder seam just emphasizes the larger bust and arms. 

    1. Josefly | | #2

      In view of what fabriclover007 said above, I wonder if shoulder pads inserted in this blouse would improve the fit/look. I noticed a some fullness in the armscye, pointing toward the bust, which might be improved by the shoulder pads; same fullness also in the back.

      1. fabricholic | | #4

        Yes, I noticed that, also. I just want something that fits and is comfortable.

    2. fabricholic | | #3

      I know what you mean, but it is so uncomfortable with it hanging off my shoulders.

    3. solosmocker | | #5

      Did you purchase your pattern by your high bust measurement? I am guessing you used your bust measurement, as most people do. However, by buying by your high bust measurement and then doing a full bust alteration to the bodice front, you will have the fit needed for your shoulders and neckline area. If you are petite you may have to raise the neck opening somewhat. I always do. I highly recommend Nancy Zieman's "Fitting Finesse" book for very clear and easy instructions on buying the right pattern size and make the FBA. Lots of my clothes had the same problem yours does until I got this book and started finally making my clothes fit correctly. She uses the pivot and slide method which I have found easier than other bust alterations I have done. I am "ample busted" with narrow shoulders and slender back.

      Edited 3/11/2007 10:19 pm ET by solosmocker

    4. Cherrypops | | #6

      Hi fabriclover007,

      Would you please provide a shortlist of pattern suggestions for this body type.

      Thanks, CherryPops

  2. HeartFire2 | | #7

    Here are my observations,(for what that's worth).
    the back has too much length in the mid back area- in the picture of your back it is bunching up in the middle of the back, that needs to be taken out.

    the arm holes are too low. I'm not sure what you did to alter the shoulders, I really couldn't tell form your picture, but like someone else said , perhaps shoulder pads at this point will raise up the armhole to where it will fit better in the under arm.

    If you shorten the back neck width (part going around your neck) it will pull the shoulders up where they belong.

    1. fabricholic | | #8

      I just took 1/2" off the shoulders, as shown in pattern photo. Makes since about the back neck width, but what about the front? You say the back length is too long, is this correct? Thanks for your help.Marcy

      1. HeartFire2 | | #13

        The front width of the blouse is independent of the back. Think of someone with a really really large chest but otherwise a narrow body, the front of her blouse has to be a lot wider to go over the large bust, but the back can remain narrow to fit her flat narrow back. This is again, one of the problems with commercial patterns, the fronts and backs are usually the same width, which for some very few women with "perfect" bodies it will work, the problems is 99% of us don't have the "perfect" body, we have real bodies.By saying g"I took 1/2 inch off the shoulders", do you mean you made them 1/2 in more narrow? took it of the armhole edge? did you take it off the shoulder seam so you lowered the shoulder to accomodate a different shoulder slope? - I'm not trying to needle you here (pun intended) I'm trying to understand where the 1/2 inch came off, there are many ways to chop up a pattern.Now, getting to the front of the top, it doesn't look too bad, the darts seem to sit correctly for your bust, there is a wrinkle in the fabric by your left underarm, I suspect if you raised the shoulders a bit (take off some of the shoulder seam from the neck to the armhole (take nothing at the neck edge and wedge it down about 1/4 inch at the armhole edge) it will raise the underarm seam and get rid of this wrinkle. I bet with this shirt on and you raise your arm the whole shirt will ride up.Hope I haven't overwhelmed you here

        1. fabricholic | | #16

          I took it off by way of the pivot and slide method of Nancy Zeiman's, shown in pattern picture. I think I will try a smaller pattern and adjust below arms for bigger waist and hips. Thanks.

  3. marymary | | #9

    I agree with solosmocker, you have the wrong size pattern.  I know this, because that is the way my clothes used to fit until I started buying by the high bust measurement.  Cutting off the end of the shoulder seam does not adjust for the fact that the neck opening is too large, and the sleeve seams are in the wrong place because the pattern is too wide across your upper chest.  Getting the right size pattern will make such a difference that you will see it immediately.

    Nancy Zieman's fitting books are terrific for figuring out what size pattern you need.  Doing a FBA becomes easy after the first few times. 

    One style to stay away from is raglan sleeves.  They accentuate the triangle shape. 

    1. fabricholic | | #10

      Thank you, Mary. Since everything up top was too big, I was thinking if I go to one size smaller, it would fit better and then I could just go out for the rest of my body. Now, I will go get the upper measurement and see what size I need. Thank you. I am trying to fix a simple t shirt pattern, because I bought some material from Emma One Sock and I am so anxious to try it. It's not the onion skin, but the buttermilk fabric. I will do a muslin, first. I just bought a bunch of 100% cotton for an underlining for GD an eyelet dress. I will use some of this. Pattern doesn't call for knit, but I will, evenually use knit. I don't wear raglan style sleeves. I can tell just by looking that they look terrible on me. Thanks, again.Marcy

      1. marymary | | #11

        Marcy, you will want to play around with your "muslin" before you cut into good fabric.  Make sure you use a fabric for the muslin with the same stretch as your fashion fabric. 

        I measure, by Nancy's measurements, a size 12.  After experimenting, I have decided that I like the fit better of a 14.  It must be from years of drop shoulder designs and the oversized look.  The 12 looks great on me, I just want more room.  So, do several muslins.  Get a basic knit pattern and a basic woven pattern.  From those, you can make lots of different styles.  Just be sure to match the pattern to the type of fabric.

        1. fabricholic | | #12

          I am using a Simplicity pattern 8523 on page five, that calls for a woven and has a little button in the back. http://simplicity.com/index.cfm?page=thumbnail.cfm&cat=1&type=1&sec=5I guess after I get this fitted, I can use a knit.Marcy

          Edited 3/12/2007 3:22 pm ET by fabricholic

          1. marymary | | #14

            Yes, Marcy, that Simplicity is a good pattern.  One of the basics that I use.  It does call for a bust dart that I don't like in a knit.  I like Kwik Sew 2900 as a basic for a knit.  I have lost track of the number of knit muslins I have made.  I buy cheap knit fabric at Hancocks when it is on sale on the "piece" table.  I don't wear polyester, but these knits for $1.99 make a great muslin. 

            I finally have a knit pattern that fits me really well and I can use it for a jumping off place for many styles.  It takes time, but the effort is worth it when you know you have a pattern that fits.

            If you are larger than a B cup, do a FBA.  It will make a world of difference in the fit.  Do you know how to do a FBA?


          2. fabricholic | | #15

            What is a FBA?

          3. marymary | | #17

            FBA is a full bust adjustment.  Since most patterns are drafted for a B cup, anything larger without an adjustment and you have problems.  You adjust according to the cup size you need.   Don't try to adjust by just adding to the side seams.  It will fit much better, if you do a FBA.  This will make the front larger without making the back larger.  The FBA also adds length to the front to go over the bust.  You can do a search on Google or Windows Live to find instructions on the Internet.  The best instructions I have seen are in Fit for Real People.  Check it out at the library.  

            To make this even more complicated,  to add to a knit, you can add the FBA by curving the side seam of the front at the bust and easing it into the back.  I found I liked this much better than a dart in a knit.  Can't remember if I add length to the front when I did this, but I might have. 

          4. solosmocker | | #18

            Your Nancy Zieman book goes into detail about making an alteration for a larger cup size, or FBA. It is a simple process and once you do it to the first pattern you will automatically do it to any pattern you bring in the house. It will prevent a lot of frustration. Pivot and slide keeps the same armhole size and has less margin of error than the slash and spread method of fitting. Both methods have their fans but I personally found it easier and therefore more successful for me with Zieman's pivot and slide method. You may want to try a couple of techniques as you do your muslin and see which works better for you. In sewing there is always more than one way to "sew a buttonhole". Good luck.

          5. fabricholic | | #19

            I took the across the chest measurement and it is 15 1/2 which makes it a size 20, which is what I was using. The pattern fit at the bust pretty well, I thought. I might just go back to pinching out 1" which would make it 2", if you count both sides of the pinch. I can't do much till Saturday anyway.

          6. mimi | | #21

            It looks like the whole pattern is too big on you.  Do you have a friend or spouse who could "pin out" the extra fabric so that you could see where alterations need to be made?  If it only fits through the bust and is too large everywhere else, perhaps you could make a muslin in a smaller size with extra room through the bust. 

            Have you looked at the Petite Plus pattern line?  Even though I am 5'7", the step by step directions for altering patterns to fit worked great for me.  I'm long through the lower half of my body and very short through the top.

            The fabric is gorgeous, by the way!


          7. fabricholic | | #22

            I have about decided to try a smaller size and just add for the hips and waist. I found the fabric in Hancock's Designer Collection around Christmas time. It was prone to ravel, but I like the iridescent look. Thanks.Marcy

          8. fabricholic | | #20

            Then maybe I should use a smaller pattern, even though Nancy's book says I need a 20. I just don't know.Marcy

          9. marymary | | #23

            Marcy, you don't look to me like you need a size 20.  What size did you make the blouse that started this thread?  Did you get help with the measuring of the upper bust to determine the "new" size?

          10. fabricholic | | #24

            I made the size 20. I shortened the pattern length wise and the sleeves. I took off 1/2" off shoulders using Nancy Zieman's pivot and slide method. Someone said to go back to the book and measure across chest from crease of arm to other one. I did that and it was 15 1/2" which in Nancy's book says I need a size 20. If it was 15" I would need a size 18. I am going to use the size 18 and do that full bust adjustment and make sure the waist and hip is big enough on the Simplicity pattern for the t shirt. Don't you think that will work?

          11. marymary | | #25

            Did you measure yourself or get someone else to do it?  That particular measurement is very hard to do on yourself?

            It does sound like you now have a good plan to get you started.  You will probably have to adjust the pattern several times before you get a good one.  Trace off the original so that you always have it to go back to. 

            I liked that Simplicity pattern so much that I went back and bought a second one for "just in case".  I don't know just in case what, but it was at one of Hancocks 99 cent sales.

          12. fabricholic | | #26

            That's why I have the pattern envelope with the 18 in it. I bought that first and then thought I needed the 20, so at one of the .99 sales, I bought it. It's pretty basic and I can make a lot with it. I, also want to get the Kwik Sew that you or someone else mentioned for the knit fabric. I held the tape upside down above where I measured, so that I would get an accurate measurement, looking in the mirror.

          13. marymary | | #27

            This is not a measurement you can take by yourself.  I tried it on myself and when I took the measurement, it was almost 2" longer than when my DH did it for me.  The 20 is too large for you.  The 18 might be also.  If you don't have someone who can take your measurement, go to the fabric store and ask for help for that one measurement.  I am sure someone would help you.

  4. fabricmaven | | #28

    Hi. I've just looked at all of the pictures in your message. I have questions. Are the bust darts in the illustration on your pattern envelope as close to the bust point as your photo shows them to be on you? Do you have rounded shoulders? I feel like the pattern is just way to big to begin with. The shoulders look as if they are an inch to big on each side and the armscye in the front goes way past your natural body line. The back armscye fits somewhat better at the bottom and then veers way off at the top. I'm thinking that I would make a muslin and tweak all the adjustments and then remove the sleeve and darts in your fashion fabric and start over. I have found that it is better to have a pattern that is slightly smaller and alter the places that need to be enlarged than vice- versa. Threads had a very enlightening article (no 121 Oct/Nov pg.59) on making a muslin. The authors jacket was absolutely beautiful because of the adjustments she made beforehand. My quick but not perfect answer to your existing problem would be to make an elastic band that fits naturally around your waist. Refer back to the pattern and mark a horizontal line that shows the front and back waistline. Attach these lines to the elastic with straight pins. Then move the blouse bust point to your brassiere bust point. Do the same with the back darts. I'm thinking that this will allow you to create princess line seams in the vertical lines of the blouse that will pull the shoulders up where they belong. You can adjust the back and front excess horizontal fabric by reshaping the darts where your natural waistline falls if that is a poblem. Hope this helps. 

    1. fabricholic | | #29

      Most agree that the pattern is too big. I don't have rounded shoulders, I have narrow shoulders. I am not going to try and remake this pattern, the material ravels too much for that, anyway. I just wanted to know for future reference. Next time, I will use a size 18 and do a FBA like someone suggested. Everything else worked out great below the top part. The sleeves were great and the length of the hem was perfect. I loved how the snaps worked on the blouse. Too bad I messed it up. Thank you for all of your help.Marcy

  5. Teaf5 | | #30

    I agree with the others about the pattern being too big, but when you use a smaller pattern you will need to increase it widthwise only from the arms down, not across the upper back or shoulders. If you pin out two inches or so from the top center back of your brown blouse, you'll see how this helps.

    Instead of adding the width in the center back and center front, which will spread the shoulders out, add it to the side seams under the arm only, and then probably only in the front. Make sure the pattern armscye is high, hitting right in your armpit. (Search this forum for Raising Armscye or Armhole for very good instructions on how to do this.) The higher armhole makes the blouse more comfortable and also gives you a higher side seam to widen to accommodate your full bust.

    I have a simliar figure, and use a size 16 but add an inch to each side seam starting from the armhole downward. I add a little extra width to the front half of the sleeve, tapering quickly back to the normal sleeve. Basically, this adds a built-in gusset under the arm, where the extra space adds comfort but doesn't affect the drape of the blouse from the shoulders.

    You might be able to salvage this top by stitching out the excess in the back seam or by adding a back seam if there isn't one; it's a flattering design and color, and the fabric is gorgeous!

    1. fabricholic | | #31

      I will have to add width to the side seams to accomodate my big waist and hips. Actually, the back has a pleat that I didn't take the basting stitches out of, yet. It's Vogue 8324 http://img.sewingtoday.com/cat/20000/itm_img/V8324.jpg
      It's a pretty neat pattern. Why would I need a gusset in the sleeve? The sleeve feels o.k. except for the fact that the top of it is hanging off my shoulders. I loved the material, but it is kind of see through and I would have to wear a camisole under it. I might try it again sometime. I like the snaps for a change, also. Even if I fixed the blouse, the neck still looks huge. I am trying to get a simple t-shirt type pattern altered and I will go with a size 18 this time and check for the armscye to be high enough. I am using Simplicity 8523. Do you have a favorite t-shirt type pattern?Marcy

      1. Teaf5 | | #34

        It's not really a gusset; it's just that if you need to add a significant width to the side seams, you will also widen the sleeve where is attaches to the under arm. But you won't want to widen the entire sleeve, so you taper back to the original sleeve seam, creating a triangular space under the arm, where it doesn't show but allows the sleeve circumference to match the armhole.

        1. fabricholic | | #35

          I understand now.

  6. User avater
    TwilaTee | | #32

    Hi fabrichholic, sorry I'm chiming in late here, but I agree with the muslin suggestion. Also a good dress form. If you have a seamstress friend that could help fit the muslin to you than the need for a dress form wouldn't exist.
    It's a dilemma isn't it? Kind of one of those chicken or the egg things.. or how do you find your glasses if you can't see without your glasses! How do you make a good fitting garment when you can't contort yourself in strange ways to be able to pin the muslin to yourself.
    We as home-sewers rely on the manufactures of patters to make patterns that ACTUALLY fit us. Maybe this should go in the "Most needed inventions" post. My suggestion for that post would be a pattern that actually fit.... :)
    I find patterns to be sooo frustrating, they NEVER fit right, always too small at the waist, too big at the hip, gaping neckline, ARRG! so lately I've just been using the pattern as a mer "suggestion" as in make your piece kinda look like this shape! I drape everything on me pin it till it fits and sew it up, try it on again, mark where the sewing lines go, pull the muslin apart, and use the muslin as my pattern. I've given up... -Twila

    1. fabricholic | | #33

      You're doing better than me. How can I get to the creative part when all I do is work on the altering part. I would love to get creative, but it takes all of my energy just trying to fit myself. Oh well. Back to the drawing board, as they say. Marcy

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