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Conversational Threads

Tell us your fitting troubles

Deana | Posted in Talk With Us on

What are your most trying fitting problems? Which garments in particular are hardest for you to fit?<!—-> <!—-><!—->

Deana Tierney, Assistant Editor, Threads


  1. TJSEWS | | #1

    I have the most trouble fitting pants.  I have tried many different methods, read books, viewed videos and just cannot seem to get rid of the bagginess under my derriere.

    I heard that someone by the name of Joyce Murphy (who wrote a couple of articles in Threads about pants but unfortunately for me, did not address the bagginess-under- the-derriere phenomenon) is an expert with fitting pants.  I am going to keep an eye out for one of her retreats where she actively helps you with fitting and drafting a pants pattern.  Other than that, I don't know what else to do.

    1. ladysmith | | #26

      Without any hesitation, I recommend you try one of the McCall's Palmer & Pletsch patterns for pants.....they're great!  The pants back pattern piece has a lines for taking in that bagginess from a flat derriere.  Fold in the lines, tape them down then add tissue to the back side hip area to replace what you folded in.  Their book, "Pants for Real People" shows this in detail.  If you're in to "middle" age, they also recommend dropping the back crotch seam 1/2 inch.  Good luck!

      1. nisee | | #43

        Thank you  just added that book to my library from Amazon's used book section.  Thanks for the directions, I look for it.

    2. SewNancy | | #88

      Try Joyce's method, I finally got great fit using her method and, I will admit a few extra tricks. I kind of depends on where you are wrinkling and bagging. Go take a look at http://www.patternreview.com as there are great tips on fitting pants. Debbie Cook in particular has posted some great advice. She also has a great blog that illustrates her journey.http://stitchesandseams.blogspot.com/

  2. nisee | | #2

    Ah, pants. I sewed a Sandra Betzini pattern, following all kinds of instructions for the close fitting flat front pattern.  I used her book as well.   I still have a fold at the center back under the back zipper.   About 3" below the zipper.  The fold is on the seam.  If I take it out, the pants have no ease.  I have a very flat seat.   I have since realized that many of my ready made pants have a similar prooblem.  How do I maintain sitting ease and  eliminate the fold?

    1. Nonnie | | #80

      I was fortunate to have had a chance to take a pants fitting class with Sandra Betzina and the experience was well worth the cost.  I do have a possible solution to your baggy seat problem, try slashing the pattern from the top of hip on an angle down to the center back of the pants back piece ( maybe to where the notch usually is found) then continue to slash down the leg almost to where the back of your knee would be.  The slash will now open and close like a scissors, pull the hip portion up and over the pattern closest to the center back, remark the darts, notches etc and make a muslin with temporary stitches and see if this will remove the excess bulk! Good luck. 

      1. nisee | | #81

        Thank you, I will try this.  I have put in a request for a pants fitting class at Sewing Workshop in SF.  I am close enough and have had some time this year to take 2 classes and pants fitting was available.  It is hard to do fitting on your self!! They have a very good teacher that worked on T-Shirt fitting in the last class I attended.  So with some good advise from your self and possibly another class I would love to have excellent pants.  BEFORE the body changes again!!

  3. Beth | | #3

    I also have the baggie area under my buttocks, but believe I can improve the fit by reducing the tip of the back crotch curve a bit. I will test this on my next pair of pants.

    My current fitting issues are with the bodice. I have sloping shoulders, a skinny (14 inch) neck and an erect back, and more. I have been experimenting with changes for a better fit and for a fitted bodice, I need about 10 changes! For a less fitted style, many of these can be eliminated.

    If you do an article on fit, may I suggest including an explanation of the limitations of using only measurements. For instance, I am currently using a size 8 fitting sloper because the neck circumference and shoulder width are better.  In a listing for size 8, measurement numbers don't match me at all. A bodice that is closer to my bust is waay too big. I am not overweight by any means.

    Fit is complicated and I can see why quilting is popular. Who wants to make all those fitting changes, then find out the garment still doesn't fit.


    1. nisee | | #17

      Hi, I too, have found all the adjustments and deterining fitting problems a pain.  But, like many sewers, I think we love the problem as much as the end product.  I find my self fidling in the mind when I drive or stand in line..  Its the time thing.  I might find a block of time to make a run at all the adjustments considered then.... days till I can get back to the project.  I have some pretty good outcomes this last run.  But my latest change is that shoulder thing. Wrinkles at the neckline in the back.  Well, my solution is to take some additional classes as they are available in SF at the Sewing Workshop.  Also there is assistance there on free nights, it is a drive for me but the assistance is worthit.  Good luck to you and thank you for your info.

      1. Beth | | #18

        I live in Northern California too. Nearer to Sacramento than SF. The Sewing Workshop is quite a long drive. I don't drive that far anymore.Classes with fitting experts are a help. They will know what to do about the back neck wrinkles. Clothes that look like they were made for someone else, a bigger person, are not all right. That was my problem at the start. I agree with the potential for carrying this too far, but as I am no perfectionest and this modifying will come to a conclusion. I have learned and relearned a lot during this process. It's been worthwhile.

        1. Teaf5 | | #19

          Hi, Beth-- Another NoCal girl here! Maybe we'll run into each other at fabric stores between Sacramento and S.F.!

          1. dreaming | | #21

            This has been really interesting, and funny too! I am 5'7", and very curvy. I have an expanded hourglass figure that includes narrow shoulders, VERY full bust (c. 46 D), larger upper arms, very large hips, very full bottom, fairly flat tummy, swayback, lage thighs, very long legs. It's scarey even thinking about alterations, but, like someone said, we love the problems too (the puzzle/challenge). I love fabrics and style, and always have, and besides, what RTW could fit? I have yet to successfully alter pants, but a pair of boxers await elastic, and they are pretty cute (wide legs, bias cut). I found a great article on measurung self, by Barbara Emodi, and then more on that in Barbara Deckert's plus sewing book. I like the idea of dividing the bust darts someone mentioned. I HATE the fall-off the bust/shelf look, and/or the very boxy (UGLY) plus clothes. Because I am curvy, look tall, due to long legs, and with my personality, I want sporty clothes, and funky clothes. I want clothes with shape, and this is the challenge. The boxy look is a cop out, to fit all and none. I must love the challenge. Anyway, I think of this day and night, and have had some lovely successes, especially with my new hubby's help. I really LOVE hearing how other people solved a fitting problem. I then have several ways to try, and may even come up with a composite. So hi from Longueuil, Canada, which is in Quebec. Do have the Calif. connection though. My sewing aunt just died, and was from Fresno. We shared a lot about our sewing, in letters.

          2. FitnessNut | | #22

            You're right....I think the challenge is what motivates many of us. And it feels so good when we solve a problem and end up with a wearable and flattering garment.Hi from Ottawa....I used to live in St. Bruno, so I'm intimately familiar with Longueuil...small world!

          3. Beth | | #23

            Three of us in NoCal. What a coincidence.

          4. sewknit32 | | #57

            Make that 4 in No. CA. I'm about 35 miles from SF.Joan

          5. nisee | | #59

            Also in Northern CA- Marin County.  Very close to SF -if- your not driving! Sorry, traffic complaints are another forum.  I wonder if your close enough to that wonderful place Button & Bows in San Anselmo.  I finally visited the shop and discovered the most wonderful array of buttons better than SF Britex. 

          6. sewknit32 | | #62

            I am in Contra Costa County. Not that far as the "crow flies" but when driving, that's another story. Don't think I have ever been in San Anselmo. The button shop sound interesting. Do they sell buttons by 1's?I have been working on perfecting my back sleeve and I am very close, perfection being the goal, but have decided some of the problem is "me". If I add more across the back I get a bubble next to the armscye seam on the sleeve, but if I decrease the across back the sleeve doesn't hang right and I can't reach forward without the back feeling tight.Joan

          7. nisee | | #67

            Hi, to you too.  Yes, this shop does sell 1's.  She has antique and all kinds of unusual button.    As to the sleeve problem.  I'm afraid that other than take out some ease in the cap, that may be the one piece of pattern I do not have to fuss with.  Hopefully someone else will have an answer.  I have gotten so many good tips from these gatherings- so specific and I don't have to search my fitting library on end.  Good luck

          8. User avater
            Thimblefingers | | #90

            My major fitting problem is my small size.  I'm 49, 5' tall, and wear a size 4 in patterns.  Many of the patterns I would like to wear start at size 8.  I have graded some patterns down but going down 2 sizes takes a little more guesswork.  I also like detailed garments and they are more difficult to grade.  My size is also one of my major reasons for sewing - I just can't find classy reasonably priced clothing in my size.  In some lines (the young styles), I wear size 00 and my favourite ones, like Ralph Lauren, aren't made in my size at all.  I wish that the pattern companies would make more patterns in size 4 or even 6 - especially the more mature tailored styles!

          9. Cherrypops | | #91

            thimbles. I am an Australian size 8. I am 5'4 and i have to alter RTW. I have decided now i have time i will sew my own, using the petite range patterns. My main issue is the waist (mine is 27") and the rtw waists always gape at the back. when i belt it in it bunches to much it looks awful. will see how i go making my own.


            Edited 2/28/2007 1:09 am by Cherrypops

        2. nisee | | #24

          Hi, there.  I just wanted to mention that sewing seems to be a lost art no matter where we live.  I mean the kind of sewing we seem to enjoy.  At the sewing workshop I found two other women that live in my county and we discussed this.  For a time I worked at a workshop that did some beautiful work for local designers.  I needed the space and access to larger machines and tables for drapery, shades etc.  I learned a lot.  And I got my resale certificate so I could puchase fabrics and such at cost.  Time came for me to leave, my hands just can't handle the weight or stretching required on some projects.  My boss and very good friend discovered the difficulties of finding sewers to work for her.  So much of the work requires math, conceptulizing and working out fabric handling on your own.  Its more than just sewing.  Turns out there is a serious shortage in the sewing arena.  The few sewers that applied spoke spanish and she does not.   This was a great part time job for me and in my retirement it gave me a lot of joy plus a way to have a side income consulting for clients that just need access to custom work.  I am pleased to be free to sew clothes again and have this forum to work out the thorny issues of fit etc.  I am looking for other venues to pass on what expertise I do have.  My daughter did not take to sewing and my grandaughter is 3 mos.  !!!  Sewing takes time and I guess there is a shortage of that in every day life.  Plus clothes can be purchased so cheaply..Takes something to appreciate well made and well cut clothes.  I do.  Thank you Threads for this forum. 

          1. ctirish | | #63

            Hi, I read your clip about your daughter not sewing, I have two daughters and neither one is interested in sewing. I have two granddaughters, one I take care of every day while mom works. I am not making the same mistake twice. When she is playing by herself with her toys I  watch a TIVO'd sewing show or a put in a tape of sewing. I am hoping the subliminal brain cells will take over and by the time she is 7 she will want to sew with me all the time. The second gd is only 4 months old, she doesn't live close enough for me to start her on tapes. I have been making  Halloween costumes for several years. I have done one for a 6 week old, a 6 month old, a one year old boy and a one year old girl.   I hope with the costumes they will get some interest in it.    I have done; Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, and a Dalmatian to go with her brother the Fireman.

          2. nisee | | #66

            What a great idea!!My daughter-in-law has shown some interest in sewing so I have an in.  I, too have done the costume thing - mostly nephews but its been years they are all teens.  I just made a Santa suit for my 2 yr old grandson at the request of my daughter in law she wants to do a christmas photo.  A little elaberate, I know, but maybe he'll wear it on holloween.  This is my second santa suit.  I made one years ago for my 6yr old nephew (his request) he also wore it on Christmas Eve, complete with granny glasses.  The family 3yr old twins thought he was santa and were thrilled!!  My daughter was not a dress wearing girl even on holloween, maybe this granddaughter will be and I'll be swamped in tulle- my dream!

  4. User avater
    Becky-book | | #4

    Thanks so much for asking!!!

    Since my Girls have all grown up and married, I no longer walk as much as I used to and I think I compensate for the loss of their company with Food!  So you know what the result is... 40 lbs of 'fluff' ... so hardly any of my favorite patterns fit any more!

    My latest trauma is a simple jacket that should have been completed in a few hours!  Upper arm 'fluff' made a sleeve change necessary and the project went downhill from there at an alarming rate!  I have read all the latest Threads articles on fitting the bodice and sleeves and I still goofed some where! (even have Palmer/Pletsch Fit For Real People).

    I don't even want to think about trying to fit pants over this 'new' old body! (to fit a pattern to it would be the same as admitting it is here to stay, and I keep hoping to loose weight).


  5. neenie | | #5

    I wear a 42 DD.  Need I say more?  When I purchase clothes I have to buy a size 18 pants but a 2X top.  With pants (that I have purchased) and tops it has worked out.  But I think skirts and tops - especially jackets - make me look even bigger.  So now that I am returning to sewing I will still have the top  to bottom ratio to deal with.  I am going to start with a jumper and I have decided to make it first from muslin so I can get an idea of what I'm dealing with.  So, now you know my fitting troubles........




    1. NewRenaissanceWoman | | #25

      I too, have a bustline in the DD range. I started sewing more of my clothes myself when I tried altering rtws that had to be purchased by the bust size (shoulders, neckline, and other areas just too big). It was easier to sew dresses and suits/jackets from scratch than try to alter. I have previously made all of my skirts because fabric could be bought for 3 yds/$1 and made up into nice full skirts in the 50’s.

      <!----><!----> <!---->

      I am now a professional designer, fit expert, and teacher. My love of sewing paid off.

      <!----> <!---->

      To get the best fit in the bust, it is easiest to work with a princess seamed pattern. Patterns that have sewn darts always create peaks and bubbles when they are deepened to fit a large bust (the only exception is a French dart where the dart is centered on the true bias and is done in a soft or drapey fabric). Pattern drafting books also have instructions on how to divide darts into 2s and 3s. This spreads out the fullness and eliminates the peaking phenomenon, but is not always appropriate for every style. Choose a pattern that fits your shoulder width and neckline. You may still have to make some adjustments in the shoulder slope and waist length. Junior sized patterns and half sizes have shorter waist lengths than misses and womens. A good source of simple patterns that are specifically designed for shorter waist lengths and large busts (D cups) can be purchased from PetitePlusPatterns.com. They are advertised in Threads. These may be easier to work with since the large bust to narrow shoulder ratio is already taken care of. I have not used any of these patterns since I draft my own patterns from scratch.

      <!----> <!---->

      The most accurate results for adjusting patterns that I have encountered so far were from Eunice Farmer. I do not know if you can still get this information. Most of the older books have a very similar method, whereas the newer books and articles are trying to make things faster and supposedly less complicated which is not always better. Always start with the shoulder, back, and neckline fit, followed by any alteration to the bodice length, before adjusting for the bust. Since most of the modern patterns have armscye curves that are too flat even for smaller bust cups, make sure that the bust alteration goes out through the armhole so that the armhole curve is deepened as this affects the sit of the garment by directing the fullness over the bust so that it doesn’t pull across the front.

      <!----> <!---->

      To make fitting muslins don’t use muslin. The new muslin that is being sold in the stores these days has far too much sizing in it and it irons up very stiffly. Prewashing doesn’t seem to help much either. It takes several washings and the fabric wrinkles badly, taking a lot of ironing before you can work with it. Your best bet is to raid the clearance racks or remnant bins, or go to a flea market and buy fabrics that are close to the weight of the garment you wish to create. This will also give you a better idea of how the garment will hang as well as the fit.

      1. HeartFire2 | | #29

        Please tell us more about Eunice Farmer, what sort of instructions did you get? Is it a book? what is the name of it?

        1. neenie | | #32

          There are some used copies on Amazon.com.  The name of the book is Sew Simple.  I just typed in Eunice Farmer at Amazon.com and it came up.  Some of the copies are 1.15.  worth taking a look.

        2. NewRenaissanceWoman | | #50

          Eunice Farmer was the "expert" in the field of sewing many years ago. She had a TV show (I don't remember if it was in the 60's or early 70's - I'm thinking it was most likely the former). She was the first or one of the first to have a TV show. I think she also had a book, but I never had a copy. I remember watching her TV show when she went through the process of altering a basic fitting pattern for herself. It was done over several shows. She was large in the bust herself. She started with a size 12 pattern because that was what fit her in the shoulders and the neck. Her shoulder slope was normal so she didn't have to do anything there. She adjusted the waist length first and then the bust. She cut the pattern apart horizontally adjusting for the bust depth from the shoulder and from the waist. I think she cut from the bust point up through the shoulder and down to the waist. I prefer to do this through the armhole, since the curve needs to be deepened (but not lengthened). Since fitting patterns usually have the 2" difference in the front to back width ratio of a standard B cup, she added 2 additional inches to the front width (1 on each side of the pattern). This automatically spreads the fullness out at the bust in a star-shaped manner. Some length may also have to be added on the center front piece. Singer's "The Perfect Fit" has photo illustrations of this method on p.74-75 for a side seam dart and 80-81 for princess seams. Since this book is available in most fabric stores, you can probably look it up without necessarily buying the book. These books may also be available at your local library. Deepening the armhole curve also takes the gaping out of the armhole. The sharper curve is straightened slightly when you sew the side seam thus throwing the fullness over the bust from the center of the curve. You can see how this works simply by taking a piece of paper and cutting a slight curve in it. Straighten the paper and you will see how the fullness is arched up over the "bust."

          If Eunice Farmer is still alive today she must be in her 80's at least. As far as I can figure.

          Unfortunately, there has yet to be published a sewing book or even a patternmaking textbook that I have come across that explains how to tell HOW MUCH needs to be added to a pattern front for proper fit. To make sure that you are wearing the correct size bra (more than 2/3 of all women are actually wearing the wrong size - or so 'they' say) you will need two measurements. Take your tape measure across the fullest part of your shoulder blades and bring around to the front above your bust with your arms down at your sides. This is your bra size. Next, without moving the back of the tape bring it down from the armpit and around the fullest part of the bust. The difference between these 2 measurements is your cup size. A=1", B=2", C=3", D=4", etc.

          If you go shopping with a tape measure and measure the front and back widths of rtws you will find that not all of them are 2" wider in the front than the back which is supposed to be the "standard," - 3" for half sizes and womens - HA! Listen up Lane Bryant. I have yet to find an accurately sized bodice on anything in your stores.

          The difference between the front and back pattern widths should be the same as your cup measurement. Measure the front and back widths of the pattern you wish to adjust and determine how much you have to add to bring the pattern up to 'your' size. When working on 1/2 of the pattern, don't forget to divide the amount needed by 2, adding half to (each) side. If the pattern already has a 2" differential this will amount to 1/2" per cup size on the half pattern. A lot of patterns these days eliminate darts altogether, which is fine for the flat chested, but makes a lot of extra work for us curvy types. It is also the reason we have so many more problems with rtws.

          I, too, would love to find one of her books. She was very thorough. Maybe you can find one in a used book store if you're lucky, or tap into their search service. I know I've seen the same methods illustrated in a book or books somewhere but cannot remember where and I don't have them in my library.

          I've rambled on at length here but hope that the info is useful for you.

          1. WandaJ | | #60

            Yes, your information is useful for me. I too have the Singer Fit Book you mentioned. In fact, this discussion caused me to look for it and pull it out a few days ago. When going through it I found that the illustrations are quite good and the clarity and conciseness of the text is welcomed.

      2. neenie | | #31

        WOW!!  That was great info and a lot of info.  I'll have to be easy on myself and remind myself it took you some years to figure all this out.  But thanks.  I have a princessline pattern that I was just about to get rid of...good thing I checked my e-mail.

      3. WandaJ | | #33

        Your post provided information that I've asked and wondered about in that I wanted to know what was the proper sequence for making the pattern alterations. You provided them as: shoulder, back, neckline, bodice length, bust, and then a relationship in this area to the armscye.

        For the life of me I don't understand why writers of fitting - pattern adjustment books don't just say the above? By making the bodice length adjustment one may not have an issue to deal with in the area of bust points, or am I not conceptualizing this correctly?

        I ask with regard to the last step of your sequence, where does one find clear, concise information about the bust adjustment and its relationship to the armscye? And, after that if one makes an adjustment to the armscye would an adjustment to the sleeve cap or seam be needed? If this is the case what is the adjustment(s) and again, where is clear, concise information about how this is to be done found?

        Regarding the initial question that started this post, my fitting issue is primarily in the area of the bodice. I have broad shoulders and the back armscye is tight on most clothing whether its made or RTW. Too, I need an adjustment in patterns in the area of length and of course, the bust area as I wear a D cup bra. Also, my rib cage is full/large bones so this increases the circumference in this area.  Too, I need to remember to reset the buttonholes on the bodice of garments because when they are right above or below the full part of the bust I always have an unsightly gap.

        If the bodice was as easy to adjust as the waist, hip and length then sewing would forever be a breeze.


        1. HeartFire2 | | #34

          Wanda, The book you need is Fitting and Pattern Alteration. A Multi-Method Approach by Liechty, Pottberg & Rasband. I just checked and you can get it on Amazon for $48.00 (you've probably wasted that much in fabric already like the rest of us)this is one must have book, it shows you - problem area by problem area (large bust/ hollow chest/ heavy shoulder etc) and how to alter the commercial pattern. It provides 3 different means of achieving the same end for each problem. slash & spread, cut away the seam allowance and spread just that part, or adding area where needed. Its very much the 'picture book' and not very wordyEach 'problem area' shows a picture of what the problem looks like - pulling or baggieness, and then how to fix it.If you can draft a personal sloper - go to : http://vintagesewing.info/1940s/42-mpd/mpd-toc-short.html
          click on "chapter 2" and follow the directions. This you can then compare top thecommercial pattern and use this book to make the alterations you need to

          1. michellem | | #35

            I loved this site.  Thanks!


          2. WandaJ | | #36

            Thanks for the information about the fitting book. I have one book by Rasband but not this one. I will check it out as soon as I complete this post. With regard to the site, I've been here before and it did not come to mind when thinking about fitting issues. It's a very good reference source.

            I think the multiplicity of access and use of sites, books, etc., sometimes complicates the fitting and even sewing issue. There was a time when we 'just' sewed, and somehow garments came out right, whether or not they looked homemade is another issue.

            Now, we read this, read that...and, at some point in time it all starts running together, so we end up not being sure of what to do where and when. An example of this for me has to do with the issue of 'neck fitting.' Just when I think I'm on a roll with the bodice/bust fit issue, I see a lot of posts here and there about neck fitting.  I thought once the bodice/bust area is covered, even with the pattern size purchase you had it down pat, now its a question of does the neck fit?

            While we all, I am sure, want to sew well and better, and not have our garments looking homemade, the multiplicity of information can sometimes be overwhelming.  This I think can deter some people from getting involved in sewing; however, on the other hand for those with a great interest and desire will survive and succeed.

      4. flowermom5 | | #39

        I was just looking through and saw your post. I guess I'm not hte only one with a large bust, but otherwise small upper body. I look forward to trying your suggestions. I have only had hit or miss success so far.

      5. nisee | | #45

        Thank you for this info.  I envy you your skill of making patterns.  All this adjusting everytime I find an unusual pattern or unique detail.   I have used remenants for my latest fitting- good advise because the muslin just did'nt give me the feel of the jacket I wanted.   Now a question for you about my shoulder or back neck I think.  I have been altering a blouse pattern as recommended.  The collar  stands up at the back (the type that is part of the front facing) anyway, I have wrinkles at the back neckline.  According to Sandra Betzini's fit book this means I have sloping shoulders but the tip in Threads about making an outline and analysing that area does not show a slope or a particularly square shoulder.  To lower the neckline in the back of this blouse pattern throws the shoulder line off.  It is sewn continuous after clipping to the dot at the shoulder.  Does this make sense to you?  How do you lower the back neckline say 1/2" and not change the width?  Is that the correct adjustment.  I printed your advice on the bust adjustments and pattern recommendation.  Again, thank you.

        1. NewRenaissanceWoman | | #51

          I'm not sure exactly what your back neck looks like, but here is something you can check. It may not be your problem.

          If your back shoulder width from shoulder point to point across the back is more than 1" longer than the same measurement across the front, you have a rounded back. There are different ways of adding to the back width. Most will also require adding darts to the neckline about 1/2 way between the center and the shoulder line to shape the back over the rounding. Shoulder darts may also be the answer. This will make the back of the neck fit closer to your body and affect the sit of the collar. Check a good fitting book for instructions and illustrations to make these adjustments.

          The proper way to determine your shoulder slope is to first check your shoulder width and compare with the pattern. After checking center back length to the waist and length from the shoulder/neck junction to the waist and making any correction necessary, measure from the shoulder point to the center back waist and check the pattern. If an adjustment is needed, measure up from the waist diagonally and drop or raise the shoulder point until the two meet at the shoulder point. This is the most accurate way to adjust the shoulder slope. You don't have to make an "educated guess."

          All pattern adjustments can be made accurately when you know what measurements are needed to correct the problems. Now if only someone would just write a book with all the information in it we wouldn't have to search dozens of books to gather everything we need to know.

          1. nisee | | #68

            Thanks for the infor. I think the problem has been diagnosed.  Your right I am smaller in the shoulder area on some patterns.  I just did a test on the blouse I wanted and came away with the same conclusion.  After making a dart at the center back to take out 1/2"  I saw a difference.  3/4" to maybe 1" might put those shoulders in the right place.  So many people replied with similar directions, I guess this is a common problem.  Trial and error and the blessing of the gathering has made my latest project pretty perfect.  I think I have a good basic pattern going and am ready to get into the jacket.  I've been sewing for years but I haven't done any thing tailored in a long time.  The body has changed! 

          2. scrubble4 | | #106

            I love that you state you don't have to guess the adjusment if you know what measurements to take.  I have always believed that, but I frequently don't know what to measure and then where to adjust.   I find so many fitting tips and tricks books, articles etc., give the big picture but not the details.  Your answers are eye openers for me.  Thanks so much for taking the time to explain the whys not just the what to dos.  Scrubble4

        2. SewNancy | | #53

          Horizontal wrinkles without pulling is too much length. Pin out the wrinkles at cb and see if that helps. I had this problem until I realized that I have a very erect back. You end up with a kind of dart.
          When you fit the pattern you will cut almost to the armskye leaving room to make a small clip at the armhole side and then overlap the cut to line up the top and bottom of the dart, then straighten the cb.
          Fitting takes a bit of trial and error and really staring into the mirror at yourself to really see yourself and not what you think you look like.

          1. nisee | | #58

            Thank you for this.  I have a test run going for this blouse & I'll try your method since the square shoulder adjustment or slope shoulder adjustment doesn't seam to apply to this wrinkle.  I let you know if this works.  Really appreciate your instruction.

      6. scrubble4 | | #105

        Wow!  Your explanation was great.  Thanks Scrubble4

  6. dotty | | #6

    How do you go about tackeling mutiple issues? Large bust, narrow shoulders,dowagers hump, flat rear and large abdomen? That said, I'm actually pretty comfy with my body, I just don't like wrinkles and tightness in the wrong, uncomfortable places. I have read numerous books and articles on fitting and I still have a hard time getting my expanded bust darts to land in the right place without peaks or bubbles. Could you address the limits of dart length and depth as well as fabric and ease? I only seem to be able to get darts to fit when there's hardly any ease.
    I would be very happy if you had such an article. I'm also still interested in a swimsuit fitting article as discussed in another thread a few months ago.

    1. mazizmuse | | #15

      I recently created a pattern for a very petite girl with very large breasts...no matter what I did the darts were always terrible.  I discovered a perfect fit by taking the one very large dart and divided it into three darts-all ending about 1 1/2 inches from the fullest point (bust point).  Not only did it fit superb-the three darts were now shallow enough to avoid that unfavorable dimple at the tip.  Remember to stitch alongside the fold for a few stitches as you near the tip of the dart and I always thread the ends to the wrong side and tie.  (a pain in the neck, but it works like a charm)

      Here's to no more 'bumpy' boobs!


    2. mpspeedy | | #92



      You sound like you are walking around in my body.  Last year I had my old boss at the shop where I used to work help me make the duct tape maniqin that was featured in the magazine at one time.  We had so much fun.  Her little shop is inside a JoAnns.  We had customers and employees of the store constantly peeking in the store to see what we were laughing about.  It was a sight to see. 

       I have actually used it when I made myself a few things for a cruise last summer. Fitting our queenly figures is not easy.  In the last 4 months I have been loosing weight and am wondering how to shrink the dummy without having to start over.  I also have an autoimmune disease that weakens my muscles and makes it necessary for me to avoid the sun.  I don't do a lot of garmet sewing anymore.  I am predominately a quilter.  The shop where I worked did custom dressmaking and alterations.  They also sold Bernina machines.  I left that job with more knowledge about fixing or altering garments than I ever imagined.  It has come in handy when sewing for my family.  I was able to make my daughter's high school prom gown, graduation dress and other special occasion garmets.  I made the dresses that my three grandaughters wore in my daughter's wedding (their aunt).  I am very popular at baby showers etc. because I always bring a quilt or special creation.  I own an embroidery machine, a serger, two Bernina computerized sewing machines and a Singer featherweight.  I have made purses, totes, bookcovers, and lots of emboridered items for gifts.  One Christmas I made all of my grandchildren those armed pillows that you use to read in bed.   

      My husband is impressed because I am able to repair or replace zippers for him, mend holey pockets and shorten his pants.  My newest son-in-law even brings things to me for alterations.  My grandson called me about mending his gun case.  I have found that my embroidery machine comes in handy for covering up the stains on my tops from the huge shelf I carry around. I guess I should be thankful they could land on my belly instead.

  7. fabricholic | | #7

    Hi Deana,

    My newest problem is swayback. I didn't even know what it was and had a big horizonal wrinkle above my bottom on a skirt I made. I just trashed it. I guess since I have gained, that's what caused it. I also have narrow shoulders and I experienced the baggyness under my bottom on some shorts I made. I don't know if it would look like I fitted my behind if I tried to take it out or not? I really don't want to accentuate that part of my body.


    1. Ralphetta | | #10

      I was sway back even at 50 less pounds.  One thing I've learned, is to look for garments with a center back seam.  That's RTW, also.  Even if I don't change them, they just seam to hang better. A few years ago I understood what my mother meant years ago when she quit sewing.  She said, "I don't like sewing for THIS body."

  8. SAAM | | #8

    My biggest fitting challenges are with fitting bodices. I sew for myself and my three daughters. We range in size from size 6 to size 26+, A cup to F cup.

    My biggest problems are with fitting my plus-sized daughter. She has the largest cup size, but has narrow, sloping shoulders and is narrow across the upper chest, plus she is proportionally small-waisted. In fitting myself, ( the A cup) I have a narrow front, but a broad, slightly curved (from hunching over the sewing machine and the computer, I'm sure) upper back. For both of us, I frequently have problems with extra fabric bunching in the upper chest area.

    Also, for my daughter, I could use information on adjusting sleeves to accomodate a heavier upper arm.

  9. Teaf5 | | #9

    Sleeves, of all things! I've learned to adjust for full bust, narrow shoulders, and a maturing body, but the sleeves always look homemade and misshapen even though I have slim arms.

    I gave up on fitting pants long ago because styles change so quickly, and I can find them ready-made by a couple of manufacturers at discounted prices--often for less than$15 a pair, which is probably cheaper than I could make them.

  10. Josefly | | #11

    I've just about given up fitting pants...fix one thing, create another problem. But my latest problem is fitting the bodice...where to start? shoulder or bust? I know the latest Threads has an article that addresses this question, and I need to re-read. Still, I've been having problems with a vertical wrinkle or fold just alongside the sleeve seam, gaps at armholes(especially on sleeveless garments - and forget about a sleeveless vest! - a slanted wrinkle that starts under bust and aims toward waist or high hip at side seam, maybe because I have to increase the waist so much for my smallish bust. Also, in some posts recently in Gatherings, the question of neck proportions has come up. Instructions are too vague concerning how -where, exactly- to measure the neck? How does that size affect shoulder width? What neck, shoulder seam, bust proportions exist for pattern companies? How much bigger should a jewel neck opening be than the measurement of the neck itself--is there some corresponding "ease" for fitting the neck? Frustration!

  11. barbsewandsew | | #12

    Yes ! Thanks so much for asking......currently working on pants and will cut out my second muslin tomorrow. I seem to learn best by trial and error even though Threads issue 122 ( pg. 36 by Joyce Murphy) has a wonderful article on fitting pants. Think I need to lengthen the crotch as I'm 5'10 tall with long legs.

  12. MelyndaR | | #13

    I recently tried to do a simple v-neck top with adjustments for my size D bustline with disastrous results.  Thank goodness it was only a muslin, and not my fabric.  The neckline got all big and open. 

    So, basically, making bustline adjustments are tricky for me. 

    1. User avater
      TwilaTee | | #97

      I've only recently gotten to be a stickler for fit. But, to that end, and having a desire to learn how the pro's do it. I ordered a great book from Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Couture-Sewing-Techniques-Claire-Shaeffer/dp/1561584975/sr=8-1/qid=1172688063/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-8862765-9064826?ie=UTF8&s=books
      In it there is an article about the exact problem you are talking about. What you have to make is called "Staying a Seam" You try the shirt on, and then pin a dart, somewhere, really anywhere along the gaping neckline. pull in however much you need to get the neckline to sit snugly against your chest. Then take the shirt off and with your tape measure take account exactly how much you pulled in, and how long it is from the center of the V neck to the shoulder seam. Get a piece of twill tape, or ribbon, and do some math. Take the V neck measurement (without the dart removed) subtract the dart, and add your desired seam allowance. Cut your twill tape or ribbon to that length. Than pin the "stay" (twill tape or ribbon) along the V neck, evenly distributing the dart along the entire length of the V neck. Baste or top stitch the stay in place and finish off the neckline as normal.
      It's really rather amazing at how well this works. The neckline really lays flat and doesn't gap open as the wearer moves.
      I hope this helps. -Twila

      1. Cherrypops | | #101

        I have just ordered this book, can't wait. pleased to read you are happy with it.

    2. Ralphetta | | #99

      You are probably right, but in my case I get gaposis because my shoulder line is perfectly straight, (parallel to the floor.)  If I don't make adjustments, the sloping line of the pattern will bunch up and the neckline looks big and sloppy because it can't slide down the shoulder as it's supposed to.  Be sure to look at how your shoulders are shaped in comparison to the pattern before you blame it all on your bust. 

  13. SewNancy | | #14

    Pants, hands down is the hardest and I have spent the most time trying to get a great fit. I have every article that Threads has ever published on pants fitting and probably every pants fitting book out there. I have finally gotten a great fit in the rear, I have a low flat derriere, but now the front fit in the crotch is off. It seems that I can either fit the front or the back but not both at the same time! I get a vertical pleat pointing up to just below the zipper if there is a fly front or to this area if there is a zipper elsewhere. Joyce Murphy's articles in combination with HP's Razer Pant with its L shaped rear crotch has gotten me a great fit in the rear end, but not this front crotch. I have never seen this illustrated or dealt with in the multitude of articles and books that I have collected on the subject, hence the large number! Someone else on another thread mentioned the same problem, but she is the first person I have seen write about it.
    Help! I am an accomplished seamstress, but this fitting problem is really a drag on my limited time.

    1. DeeOh | | #27

      I sympathize with everyone who has problems fitting pants.  Me too!!  I am very curious about the HP's Razor Pant.  I've never heard of it and would like to know more.  Where can I see it?  Where can I get it?  Thanks for any info.  

      1. SewNancy | | #28

        Go to http://www.hotpatterns.com and it is the Razer Pant. I have never seen an L shaped back crotch and it is just an amazing fit. I made another muslin of the pant working on the front crotch and I hesitate to say I have it, for fear of jinxing it. Something tells me that if you have a bubble shaped rear they won't work, but for a flat rear it is perfect.

        1. DeeOh | | #30

          Thank you.  I will certainly check it out. 

        2. ctirish | | #64

          I didn't look for the Razer pant because I was so surprised by the designs and patterns. What a wide range of styles from soft and flirty to conservative and suits for work. Even her totes and purses are great. I believe I have found a new place for patterns.

          Thank you, jane

  14. beebuzzled | | #16

    Where to begin? Tops are a difficulty because I'm long waisted, have broad shoulders, am a 34D and have a narrow waist. Bottoms are a difficulty because I have narrow (read non-existant) hips and long legs. I'm five foot ten instead of the standard five foot six that is the ready made standard. I have yet to find an off the rack (no pun intended) non-knit shirt that fits properly and have great difficulty finding flattering bottoms. Help!


  15. Papaya | | #20

    Hi Deana,
    Fitting the top is always a problem for me. I would normally wear a size 10 blouse except for my 23" front side seam to side seam at my bust. I am 39" around at the bust.
    I've tried several options but just about gave up until I came to this discussion group.
    Thank you for any help.

  16. Gloriasews | | #37

    I have problems fitting around a very rounded back (I make shirts & jackets for my son), as well as the fatty hump immediately below my neck at my back. 

  17. mimi | | #38

    I have the tummy problem:  not much rear-end, fullness on the upper hips and a very full tummy.  This is part genetics and part inactivity.  I need to get back to work-out mode *sigh*.

    Pants are a problem, I have to spread the tummy area on the pattern pivoting on the hip.  Still working on the perfect solution.

    Skirts are a bigger problem, they are always pulling or riding up.


  18. Pansy | | #40

    I find that almost all patterns have the armholes way too low.  This causes fabric to pull across the bustline (exactly at the spot where the front notches in the armscye are, in fact).  I need the armscye to be a good inch above the pattern's, so the small adjustment so often mentioned in articles and books is not enough for me.  I have a small bust, so I know THAT is not contributing to problem.  I have no idea how to make an adjustment without substantially altering the shape of the armhole and, consequently, the sleeve.  This is my number one fitting problem and it keeps me from ever sewing tops anymore.  I actually see this problem in ready to wear as well.


    1. Leafy100 | | #41

      I have fairly normal shoulders, broad middle back, and I'm short all over.  Armholes were very frustrating, especially since I love the look and mobility of a Chanel jacket/European sleeve.  I found the answer - tucks!  Tuck the bodice front, back and the sleeve exactly the same amount in the pattern and true the edges.  By taking the same amount out, you won't change the length of the armscye.  Make the tucks just above the notches, where the seams are the straightest.  The closer the garment is supposed to fit to the body, the higher the underarm seam.  For blouses, I like the seam 1/2" below the underarm.  I have tweaked this at times.  Sometimes, I take a little less out of the sleeve cap, and do more easing; and sometimes I make a narrow-er seam from the easing dots through the underarm and back up to the other easing point.  The look and comfort/mobility are worth pretesting the sleeve-only in scrap fabric.

      In a way, it is not unlike adjusting crotch depth in pants...one leg is your arm...the other leg is your trunk.  If the crotch depth is too low - penguin pants - you'll walk funny.  If the armhole is too low, you can't fly!

    2. Gloriasews | | #42

      Hi, Pansy!  I, too, have that problem - seems we are shorter than usual from the shoulder to the armpit.  I have addressed this problem by shortening the pattern horizontally between the shoulder & the bottom of the armhole, then evening out the armscye.  I have had to shorten it 1/2" to 1", depending on the pattern brand.  See if that works.

    3. SewNancy | | #44

      You can raise the arm on the front and back pattern pieces and raise either side of the sleeve the same amount. You might have to raise the sleeve cap as well. The best way to determine this is to make a muslin.

      1. nisee | | #48

        Will try this method. I am fortunate to have access to a friends workroom for some curtain remanents.  Some of the weights are great for jackets.  Thank you for the tips.

  19. euclidean | | #46

    I am very narrow shouldered, big busted, and short waisted. I am continually pulling my tops down. The shoulder seams will be part way down my back.


    1. Alexandra | | #47

      Pants, pants, pants and pants. I've been all over every Threads fitting article on pants, Palmer and Plecher, Betzina, you name it.  Have a flat behind and have sewn a dipped, gouged out back seam, but to have the pant fit right I have to hike up the back at the waist.  How can I sew the pant to stay like that?  If I take out back depth, I have no sitting ease, and I sit most of the day, or tighten the waist to stay hiked up, I strangle myself. 

      Eons ago when I worked for a fabric store, I encountered a very elegant woman who used to sew prodigiously but didn't sew any more.  I always wondered how anyone could quit sewing.  I'm about to admit defeat and give up on this and understand that woman who was such a mystery to me long ago.

      1. Leafy100 | | #52

        Pants are tough, I did the P & P pants and added almost 2" to the back crotch hook!  I also deepened the curve - for a low seat.  What no one seems to tell you is that when you do the low seat adjustment, you are taking some of the ease out of the butt/hip area.  Add room at the side seams.

        The Threads article on fitting pants a while back was great because it talked about body shape, your lower torso is - well mine is - a lumpy cylinder from which 2 cylinders (legs) emerge.  Sometimes I build small, 3-dimension models in paper so I can get my brain around what happens when I change seam allowances...odd but works for me.

        1. mygaley | | #65

          Hooray! I am thrilled to hear that I am not the only one to build paper samples while sewing. Sometimes I'm trying to get the right side right, sometimes I'm trying to see "what will happen" as you are, sometimes I'm trying to test a drape or a length. Rarely is a piece of paper over 5" square and when I'm working with rs/ws I use gift wrap so there really is a wrong side. Usually I pin them but sometimes they are sewn. Does my family laugh at me.:) God bless you Galey

      2. SewNancy | | #54

        I too have felt this way, but perservere, it is worth it. I have a flat, dropped rear end and this is a big problem and hard to fix. I finally did it. Here's how I had come close, but my goal is to cut out a pair of pants and only have to do fine tuning.1. I bought Hot Patterns Razer pant. It has an L shaped rear crotch.
        I made a muslin with large side sas for adjusting. I took the 2 Threads articles on fitting pants by Joyce Murphy and fit the waist and hip first, front and back. Then where I needed more room I removed it at cb and added what I took out at the side seam in the hip area only. This is important because you don't want to go below the knee length or the pant will twist. The back I pinned out all extra depth by pinning horizontal wrinkles until the pant hung straight. Transferred these pleats to the pattern. Double the depth of wrinkle for the amount to remove. Make sure that the side seams are straight and centered.
        I have a dropped rear end by quite a lot, so don't be surprsed if you have to lower the inner back corner by more than an inch then blend this into rest of the horizontal crotch.
        Now I had a problem with the front crotch a pleat pointing to the crotch appeared. Here I took advice from Nancy Zinnermans fitting finesse book and pinned out the pleat. I transferred double the amount to the closed seams, ie the cf and the inner thigh. This seems to have worked. If you have pulling when you walk at the top of the thigh than you need more body room. Good luck

      3. SewNancy | | #94

        I have a flat, dropped rear end and finally the solution and this is after years of not quite getting it all right, has occurred. I used the JOyce Murphy articles here in threads and it worked well. The other problem that I had was diagonal wrinkles pointing to my hips so I finally lenghtened the side seams instead of hiking up the middle back. Works. Take a look at Debbie Cooks blog and her pants fitting saga is very educational with lots of good pics. http://stitchesandseams.blogspot.com/
        She has a lot of good info.

        1. Alexandra | | #96

          Thanks Nancy, Debbie's blog was interesting and educational.  I think the fisheye dart in the pants back just might solve my problem.

        2. Gloriasews | | #102

          Thanks for the site, Nancy!  Debbie's pants fitting instructions exactly fit my pants fitting problems - yay!!!  It seems that so many of us have the same type of body, eh?  Her fittings for tops are also helpful & excellent - she makes it look so easy.

    2. Gloriasews | | #79

      I know exactly what you mean - I, too, have the same problem, whether it's fitted sleeves, sleeveless or unstructured garments - this even happens with RTW T-shirts!  Other than sewing weights into the front of garments to try to hold them down, I don't know what to do, either.  It's really annoying! This happens with both dresses & blouses, unless they have fitted jewel necklines (which don't suit me).  I have been wondering if it's the tilt of the armscye that may be the problem.  Does anyone have any suggestions?

      1. SewNancy | | #83

        You need more room in the back. Make sure that the back armskye is longer than the front. YOu may have a foward neck or foward shoulder or some rounding in the upper back. All of these would need extra length in the back. Because there isn't enough room to cover your body the front pulls to the back. Either make a duct tape dummy or have some one take pics of you in the round so that you can see where the problem lies. Also, take a look at Palmer Pletsch's Fitting for Real People to see how to alter your pattern. Make a muslin and after you've figured out the problem, do this alteration on all pattrns regardless of company.

        1. Gloriasews | | #84

          Thanks, Nancy - I'll try this.  I was also pleased to see an article about this exact problem in the current issue of Threads - so I think we're covered now.  You're absolutely right about there not being enough fabric in the back, hence the slide-up of the front. 


          1. isew4kidz | | #85

            I have Scoliosis ( Curvature Of the Spine ), My problem is, I have small bones, am 4 foot 11 inches tall, and will be 50 years old this year, because of the scoliosis, my pelvis is 3 inches higher on the right, measuring from the shoulder to the waist my body is 5 inches longer on the right side, my left leg is 3 inches longer than my right leg, all of my ribs are on my right side and I have no ribs on my left side, this makes my body popped out on the right side and sunk in on the left side, I am bent over and leaning to the left. Nothing store bought hangs right on me, and nothing I make hangs right either. For instance, I can buy a short sleeved tee shirt, and the sleeves will be past my elbows, and the length of the shirt, will be midway between my hips and knees, but it fits everywhere else, not to mention that the shoulder seams will be below my shoulders. If I buy a dress, i have to shorten it at least 8 inches, and then it will be longer on one side. Pants are the same. I would like to make my own clothes, but don't want to put in all that work and it not fit right. I make clothes for my nieces and everyone tells me I do really good work. Any help would be appreciated.



          2. User avater
            Becky-book | | #86

            Sounds like you really need a fitting helper!  If you do not have a sewing friend, maybe you do have a handy friend who would help you make a dress form on yourself (see the Threads site for several methods) then you could work on your other "self" .  Consider entering your location in your PROFILE (in MY FORUMS) then maybe someone here would be close enough to meet you.  It can be done!


          3. isew4kidz | | #87

            Thanks, Becky, that sounds like a good idea. I went into my profile and didn't see any place to put where I am. I am in Willis, Texas. Willis is off I-45 North between Houston and Huntsville and past The Woodlands.



          4. Gloriasews | | #89

            I agree with Becky - you really should make a dress form of yourself.  In your instance, draping the fabric on the form will also make a difference when you are fitting your pattern, so that it hangs straight & you won't get diagonal folds across your body, even if your shoulders are not equal (whose are?) - then you can make your length adjustments.  To make the hem even when making a dress or skirt, you could use the string method (if you have nobody to help you) by tacking a string taut in a doorway at the height you want your skirt from the floor, then putting baby powder on the string & make sure you skirt touches it as you turn, in order that your hemline is marked.  Good luck & keep us posted as to your progress.  Making the dress form will make all the difference - it will be like fitting someone else, as you do for the kids you sew for.

          5. HeartFire2 | | #104

            email me privately at [email protected] about your fitting issues

    3. SewNancy | | #93

      I have very narrow shoulders and a DD bust. You need to fix your shoulder problems first. Fit from the top down. But, you don't mention a rounded back which would be one reason for the seams to be down your back. I don't know what you are sewing, but the back needs to be longer in the armskye than the front. Sometimes simple tops, especially knits are not. Check this by lining up underarms on front and back. Do you have the Fit for Real People? Best book around as far as I am concerned and I have a lot of fitting books!

  20. mommy123 | | #49

    My most trying fitting problem is making pants for my daughter.  I cannot buy ready to wear pants to fit her to save my life!

    Overall her proportions look very nice, but her torso is extra long, and her legs are a little short.  This means her crotch length & depth are much longer than average.  Last year I was able to alter a commercial pattern (simple pull-on pants, elatic waist) and that fit her quite well.  I had to increase the crotch depth by more than an inch, and custom fit the shape of the rear crotch seam. Then I had to shorten the leg length.

    But, she keep growing!  So, I need to draft another pattern, in this year's size.  Hopefully, when she is a teen-ager, she will be able to wear the "long" size pants in ready to wear, and I will just have to hem them! Only nine more years to go!

    Oh yes, her little sister seems to have the same body type.  I will know more when she toilet trains, and moves out of the clothing sizes that are made to accomodate diapers.

    Because of this current challenge, I have set aside sewing for myself for a few years. 

    Does anyone have any tips for sewing for children?  Any books or ideas for accomodating their unique body types, and growth patterns? Or maybe just a few of your own stories to encourage me?

     Thanks for listening.

    1. User avater
      Becky-book | | #55

      When sewing for my girls and then their girls, I stay away from very fitted items that will show up the growth.  Also deep hems to let out, and a plan to hide the old hem crease (with a trim or embellishment). Or add an eyelet ruffle to the hem for just one more month of wear before it is out grown.

      Keep the patterns you make for big sister to use for little sis, she may have similar 'issues' but don't count on it!  My 3 girls all had different shapes!

      Don't try to make things you can buy, concentrate your precious time on things that are unique in fit or fabric. I have a grand son who LOVES frogs, so I made him a hat out of frog print cloth; you can't buy that anywhere! (it has elastic in back so he won't out grow it soon)

      Hope this helps,


      1. dotty | | #56

        I've always had a tough time figuring where out my shoulder ends. this obviously affects sleeve fit. There was a big discussion about this on pattern review, and I was suprised that the placement wAs much more toward the neck than I had thought.I would love an article with photos of the dos and don'ts of this matter, in different sleeve styles.I also have one shoulder lower than the other , but in some styles(yokes) it dosen't seem to matter. I would love to see comments about styles where one can relax on some of the tedious fitting issues.

      2. mommy123 | | #75

        Thank you Becky, for the ideas. 

        Is there a way to put a deep hem on the waist?  What I mean is, the first place that my girl shows growth is that the waistband slips from her waist to her belly button, then down to her hips.  All the while, the hem is reasonably close to her ankles.

        How can I make the pants longer on top?  Does anyone have any ideas on this one?

        1. User avater
          Becky-book | | #76

          The waistband that slips is on pants?  If they are fitted, with a zipper closing... I don't know.  

           If the pants are elastic waist, you could remove the casing, add a yoke and make a new casing giving her more crotch depth.  Maybe with a contrasting cloth and add some trim of the same cloth on the pockets or near the hems? (new design element!)

          Hope this helps,


          1. mommy123 | | #77

            The pants have an elastic waist.  What I mean by slipping, is that as my daughter grows, her pants are no longer tall enough (from crotch to waist) to go all the way up to her waist.  (She is only 5 years old.) Her back seems to grow before her legs do.  Before I know it, her belly button is showing again, and I have to make more pants.

            The yoke idea is a good one.  Thank you. I actually saved some fabric from each of the pants I made, so I can make the yoke out of the same stuff, and use some rick-rack or something to tie it all together.

            The yoke idea is a good one for dresses too.  It allow me to add fabric to the middle of the body, where all the growth is going on.

            Thanks for the tips.  Not too many of my friends sew, so I really miss having someone to bounce ideas off of.


          2. User avater
            Becky-book | | #78

            Dear Heather,

            Bounce all you want!! That is what this is all about... glad I could help!!


  21. Zana B | | #61

    The biggest problems for me are narrow shoulders,  a large (DD) bust and being 5' 9" !!!   Talk about adjustments!

  22. ctirish | | #69

    Deana, I have been thinking abut this for a week, my biggest problem is my height and shape.  I am short, I started at 5' and now I am down to 4'11" after back surgery  a few years ago.  My problem is for my height I have a large bust - 36D and no waist.

    I complained to a doctor and he told me there is only about 4 inches between where my rib cage ends(in front) and my hip bone starts.  Short of surgery like D.Parton, and Cher who have had their  last 2 ribs taken out, I was out of luck. 

    I have tried fitting classes and slopers but when I get to the fabric, everything still looks the same. All of my weight is in the middle. I have thin arms and legs, no hips, no butt, a 36D, and graying hair. If I wear a blouse and a skirt, there is all this ballooning out in front of the blouse. If I wear a dress, it all hangs from my bustline, the bottom end up large. I think it looks awful. Add a belt and you have a potato sack tied in the middle. I can wear pants if I can get the butt and no hips to fit, but then the tops have to have the bottom hanging out or I look like I have been cut in two.

    All the style magazines say to wear monochromatic colors, heels, look for things that elongate you, vertical stripes.  I can wear an a-line dress or princess seam dress in a solid color if I can get the shoulders and bust to fit and the bottom part of the dress to not be huge.   Everywhere I look I see so many women that are shaped almost like me. They may weigh more or less but pretty much the same. Is there anyway to not only get a good fit but one that doesn't make you look like a potato sack?

    1. HeartFire2 | | #70

      Yes, it is possible to get a good fit, but (please I really mean no insult) if you have a potatoe shape body, you will get a potatoe sack. Now, having said that, there is a difference between fit and style. (you need both) find a style that will look good on you. You don't mention your weight - you could be 4'11" and skinny - or not. You mentioned that you see other women with your shape - what are they wearing? does it look good on them? (style wise, they may still not fit them) YOu may not be able to wear certain styles. So once you have the style lines you want, then it is a matter of getting the right fit.

      1. Alexandra | | #95

        The book I have out of the library, on sewing, this week, *G*, is Fantastic Fit for Every BODY by Gale Grigg Hazen.  She has some figure/fitting issues that are similar to yours.  Check it out for some styling and pattern tweaking that will probably get you looking more stylish.

        1. ctirish | | #103

          Hi, Thank you to everyone who offered me help with my fitting problems. It would be great if there was space travel and we could all zip around to each other homes to help with fitting and making dress forms.... dreaming... a Jetson's world.......

           When I talk about my weight - an extra few pounds- it is all in my waist area.   I am about 15 lbs over my ideal weight and I am working on it but my thyroid levels are off and my doctor doesn't want to change my medication amounts.  I have been thru this once; I am looking for a new doctor now. 

          Anyway, I have been reading everyone's posts and they are very helpful.   I have the Palmer Pletsch book and I am rereading it.  I have a typical Irish  body - thin arms and thin legs with extra weight in the waist area.  My waist problem is accentuated by my lack of hips.   If I wear a jacket with a fine gauge knit top without a lot of spandex and a pair of pants I look fine.  As long as the pants have an elastic waist.  I buy size small or extra small in the pants and the waist stretches but they fit in the hip and the butt.  I would love to find some good dress patterns so I could show my legs while they still look good.

          I have one wedding this weekend and I bought a RTW dress on clearance - it started at $168. so I hope it is well made enough to handle some alterations.  It is an A-line dress with a top stitched seam down the front of the dress and an empire waist.  It has a jewel neckline and short sleeves, it is wool crepe and completely lined.   I don't know if I should bring in the area around the hips or leave it with the extra material sort of flowing out.  It will need to be shortened a few inches.  If I can I will post a picture of me wearing it prior to alterations.

          The Sewing Expo is coming to Massachusetts and I am going to try and get in one of Cynthia Guffey's fitting classes.   Does anyone know of other designers/seamstress pattern designers that go t the Expo's that is good for a fitting class.  I didn't see Gale Grigg Hazen on the list, there is Peggy Sayers, Louise Cutting (think that is her real name?) and others.  What length at the knee are people wearing - above, below, 2  inch above, 1 inch below.

          When I was looking up addresses I noticed three of four of you are in the arts and entertainment arena.  We should all complete our profiles*  so we can  make  contacts on different topics and know who lives close enough to help each other if possible.  **just a thought**

          ........keep dreaming in stitches......


    2. Ralphetta | | #71

      As I started reading your description of yourself I thought that maybe a princess style would be good.  Then, you confirmed that.  How about a blouse/jacket  with slight princess lines over matching pants?  It would be one color and I find that wearing pants, (which extends the vertical look) has a slimming look on most people, especially with heels.

      It's really hard to follow those rules they list, isn't it?  There is always some kind of conflict and I don't think many people fall neatly into one category. 

      Don't get discouraged...look at it as a challenge.

      1. NewRenaissanceWoman | | #72

        I like the suggestions that have been offered for you. Another you may want to try is making a 'top' in a tunic length that stops about half way down the thigh to short of the knee. This will hopefully smooth out and elongate the upper half and leave more pant leg showing for a longer look.

        1. dotty | | #73

          I have found that the tunic length makes the potato sack look worse. I wear all my shirts tucked out. The length is about level with where my legs join to my pelvis(crotch length). Whenever I get tempted to try a longer length, I try it out and end up cutting off the extra. I have skinny legs which make me look thinner when they show. I wear pants 99% of the time. If you wear skirts try a skinny skirt.

    3. User avater
      Becky-book | | #74

      I recently bought Fit For Real People by Palmer/Pletsch and one of their real people needed similar help.  They altered the princess lines (from the shoulder seam) on a jacket to have a slightly more 'hourglass' shape and used a light color for the center front pieces and a darker blue for the rest of the suit. If you go to their web site you can see the suit on the cover of the book.


  23. User avater
    Suits_Me | | #82

    Parnts Front: I have finally solved the small derriere problem and get a great fit in the rear, but the front crotch always seems to be too long.  It seems like it sags and I get a horizontal wrinkle across the front.  I keep taking fabric out at the top of the front, but then the waist seems to go up and down.

    Jackets: A-cup bust.  I have the problem I read about recently where I can get the front to fit, but then the back is too tight OR I get the back to fit and the front is too large.  I can take out a horizontal swath of fabric in the front which helps some.  Most recently I made a jacket with a size 12 front and a size 14 back.  After all of my pushing and pulling, I overcompensated and now the back is to wide and the front a bit snug.

    Armholes: Armholes always seem to cut in at the bottom front of my arm.  I feel comfortable cutting away fabric in a sleeveless garment, but don't know what to do with a sleeve to match.

  24. Lynnelle | | #98

    Fitting trouble?  What fitting trouble?  I'm a perfect pattern 10!  Yeah, right!

    I am 4'11 wearing 38DD with a padded bottom.  The only thing that fits right are my shoes!

    I can sew skirts fairly well, but shirts and jackets...fuhgeddaboutit.



    1. Ralphetta | | #100

      Lucky you!  One of my feet is a half size bigger that the other, so my feet aren't even easy to fit!!

  25. Tnuctip | | #107

    Stretch fabric sleeve heads and armscye gives me problems. Can you help please?

     I have made a 'Perfect T Shirt' block/sloper but although this helps with sizing it doesnt explain why I always get either a  'dent' in the vertical part of the back sleeve cap/head, where you can make a crease by flapping your elbows (back like a chicken), or a crease.  For a good fit I want the fabric to be smooth at rest and only to stretch when I move my arms. 

    I have to fit alone with a large hand mirror and one on the wall, so could I be pre-stretching the armhole by the way I have to move? (I cant see that this would be any different if I used a digital camera as recently suggested.) I do have a paper tape mannequin but that was 30 lbs ago (in the right direction) and I dont want to waste time fitting the sleeves twice by using it.

    Do you know if there is a ' making a stretch fitting sloper' guide I can consult? I have several of the books usually recommended.



  26. Majick | | #108

    I am one of those experienced seamstresses who bemoaned Threads "dumbing down" of the magazine. I have since revised my opinion. In the haute couture section PLEASE revisit the article from one of the first magazines which explains raising the sleeve/armhole seam to create a more flattering, elongating, European chic line to your jackets and dresses.

    I seldom have trouble fitting any more for the following reason. The only thing I have trouble with these days is a fly front on pants and that's because feminine versions are all written by lunatics who are bent on increasing your misery. The menswear method is so much simpler. Back to the point. All new sewers should pay attention to hand basting

    I am sewing my first bra. It is going very well thank you. My tip....the most overlooked technique these days is hand basting. Threads did an article on basting techniques which is very helpful. Attention all you novice sewers! Everything now is geared to fast sewing, but let me tell you, when fitting something slippery to something else slippery - or when working in tight quarters HAND BASTE, rather than pin baste. You can accurately see what will happen after you sew your seam. I was covering the cup seam with Seams Wonderful and cursing the night and my bloody fingers (literally) from all the pins I needed to center the seam binding. Then it hit me. AMPLE IDIOT I thought, HAND BASTE THIS. I did and it saved: hours of ripping; my fabric; my nerves and time overall. It is especially valuable when fitting a sleeve cap. I hand baste the gathering lines on the cap with an approximate 6 stitches to the inch line on either side of the sewing line and then hand baste sleeve to shoulder. It is easy to see where puckers will form and easy to rip that section and fix it without damage to the fabric. There are no pins to sew over and/or break, saving the risk of eye injury OR to stab yourself with OR to be inadvertently left behind to stab you in a sneak attack! Remember HAND BASTE you will never regret the time.

    Edited 12/17/2007 10:04 am ET by Majick

    1. GailAnn | | #109


      Question --  Are we willing to accept improper fit in readymades, that we would find unacceptable in our own handwork?

      Question #2  --  Are we willing to accept inferior fabrics in readymades, that we would find unacceptable in our own handwork?

      Question #3 --  If so, why do we pay our hard earned money to allow the manufacturers to get away with it?


      1. Majick | | #110

        Hi GailAnn
        At first I missed the Amen and thought Huh? In reply I can only say AMEN SISTER. Bra makers has been a Godsend for bra fabrics that can be relied on to replicate the wear of a high end, high priced bra, but to get a lace that I thought would work for my daughter-in-law's bra and in combination with the basic black bra made it the two colours she preferred,I had to go to Fabricland. I gotta tell you it makes me nervous. Did I cover my first quality bra with a reliable lace? Will I be remaking in two months? The fabric certainly looks like the stuff in my Lejaby bras and it has withstood the construction process so I have great hope, but that is one of my great pet peeves. If it is made for women, it sucks (pardon the coarse expression, but it fits). One seldom knows if cost will parallel quality and price is no guarantee. I think every woman who sews should boycott boutiques with high prices and unlined serged garments with threads hanging. Yes Yes, some things don't need to be lined, but work with me. WE ARE WOMEN (AND MEN) OF THE NEEDLE. We have a long and honourable tradition.
        I finished the bra and it's gorgeous. Let's just hope it fits as well as the sample - it should.

        1. GailAnn | | #111

          And again, Amen.

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