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Please help me fit a simple top

Stacey | Posted in Fitting on

I’m making a simple sleeveless shift-style silk top for a friend. No darts, quite boxy in style. The muslin fits beautifully, except for a tiny excess of fabric in the back side of the armhole. A very small horizontal dart removes the fullness and everything looks great. Now, how do I alter the back pattern piece to remove the fullness? Any advice would be much appreciated.


  1. Maura | | #1

    If I'm understanding you correctly, a tiny dart from somewhere around the shoulder blades that ends in the armhole solves the problem.

    (Warning! I've never done this, but I've seen it somewhere, and it is what I would do if I were in this situation. Test it first!)

    You can probably just fold out a similar dart in the pattern tissue, tape the dart in place, and cut the piece as if it didn't have a dart. The pattern tissue won't be quite flat, but if the dart is as small as it sounds, that won't really matter.

    Let us know what works. Good luck!

    1. thimble_ | | #2

      *Stacey,why not use that dart to add a design detail to the garment? like adding a yoke along that dart. Just take the original pattern, draw the dart in, continue the top line of the dart straight through to Center Back.(the top line should always be perpendicular to Center Back or else the dart will look crooked when sewn in. Cut the two pieces apart, cutting the shaping of the dart out as well. You should have two patterns now out of the back piece, add seam allowances to both edges and sew! this way you will get the shaping you want and have a nice yoke too. Darts sewn by themselves in that area look quite unsightly.Another thing you could do is draw the dart in on the pattern and pivot it into the back shoulder seam, this way you have an up and down dart which will be more pleasing to the eye than a small horizontal dart.!good luck!

      1. Elona | | #3

        *Stacey, that little gap at the back armhole may indicate somewhat more prominent shoulder blades or a very slight fullness or curve in your friend's upper back. If that is the case, one way to handle it is to widen the back shoulder seam just enough to add a tiny dart on that seam. You can also ease in the fullness instead of making a

        1. Elona | | #4

          *a dart. I don't know why the last words sometimes get clipped off here

          1. Alison_ | | #5

            *I strongly suggest that whatever you do, you convert your horizontal dart to a vertical one as follows:On your pattern paper, take in the same horizontal dart you did on the muslin. Mark the point and the ends of the dart legs and unfold. Redraw the dart so that it’s 1/2 inch longer, and draw a vertical line from the new dart point straight up to the shoulder seam (parallel to the centre back seam, as Thimble was saying). Cut along this line, and fold out the horizontal dart. You now have a new, vertical dart pointing to the same place the old dart was pointing to. Redraw it to shorten it half an inch, and away you go!The dart will give an old-fashioned simple-but-nicely-tailored look to your garment that I personally find very elegant and really like. If what you’re after for is a sleek and modern minimalist look, I would eliminate the dart entirely but use a stretch fabric or a bias cut. Alternatively, as Elona suggested, ease in the excess instead of stiching a dart (I would use stay tape in the shoulder seam) or take in in with small pleats or pin tucks. Have fun! Alison.

          2. Jacianta | | #6

            *I recently picked up "Pattern Making by the Flat-Pattern Method" Norma Rl Hollen & Carolyn J. Kundle (Prentice Hall) This is an Iowa State U. text book and is wonderful. Best of all its 1/4 scale Slopers allow you to work on the techniques covered in the book. The text is all meat and no fluff and easy to follow.

          3. Cynthia_Wisdo | | #7

            *I am looking for information on using a french curve in doing alterations. Is it possible to use it to alter a bodice, as in, for a large bust? Thanks, Cynret

  2. FitToSew | | #8

    In view of the garment design that you are working with, the ideal solution would be to convert the dart allowance into ease.   You didn't specify the amount of the dart that you pinned out.  This is important in deciding how to handle the ease distribution. 

     If the dart depth at the seamline is less than 1cm or 1/4" you can safely pivot the dart into the shoulder seamline and ease the back shoulder onto the front.

    If the dart depth is greater you would divide the dart depth between the armhole and the shoulder seams and convert to ease and possibly a shoulder dart if depth is 1/2" or greater.

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