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what’s wrong with this skirt?

blingy | Posted in Photo Gallery on

I am about to give up on all of this.  I have been sewing for about 2 years now and I have NOTHING to show for it, not one thing fits well enough to wear, I can’t even get a simple skirt to look right.  What is wrong with this skirt?  The front is lower than the back, it makes me look like I am always leaning forward.  The pattern looks ok, its only when the skirt is on me does it dip in front.  I followed the Sandra Betzina technique and added to the waste height at the front and it got even worse, so then I did the opposite which made the hem even but the front waist is scooped out.  The skirt I am showing is right from the pattern, my adjustments were made to another skirt of the same pattern where I tried to correct the problem you see here.  I also have made shirts which stick out in front but that will be another post and set of pictures.  Why does no one teach fitting?  No wonder people give up on sewing garments and go to quilting.  Please help!  And don’t be afraid of offending me, I know I am fat, that’s one reason I wanted to swe, so I could make things that fit my rounded form.


Edited 9/14/2007 6:25 pm ET by blingy


  1. starzoe | | #1

    From the second picture it appears that the skirt is not sitting properly on your hips, it is tipping to the front. The solution might be to shorten the back length. You appear to have a flat bum and I think if you will pin out about 3/4" at the centre back about one inch below the waistline, tapering to nothing at the side seams, the skirt will sit more evenly on your hips.

    This is a common alteration for a flat derriere but in that case the skirt is usually too long in the back. Pin-fit the skirt in the picture (as above), try it on and then stand sideways to a full length mirror.

    There is another and simpler solution, especially if you are comfortable with the way the skirt sits - and it may be that no matter what you do to the pattern, the skirt will return to the natural position on the hips - and that is to take up the hem at the centre front, tapering the hem to the side seams. Good luck.

  2. GailAnn | | #2

    This is EXACTLY how skirts fit on me. 

    Store bought skirts too.   So sewing is better, because who wants to take off the waist band to do the alteration after spending a days wages for a skirt in the first place?

    I don't think it is a matter of fat, weight, or flatness of the backside.  I think it is just the way our bodies changed as we matured.  My waistline used to be paralell to the floor, now it pitches downward in front.  

    Put on a full slip and tie a (not too tight) ribbon around your middle, move around a little, dust the living room, read the newspaper, now look at your self sideways in a full-length mirror.  See what I mean?

    Don't give up!

    There are two things you can do............

    1)  I think this looks best.....

    Before you finish the waist, try on the skirt, and pull the center front up until the side seams hang straight and the hem is even.  Mark the waist level, and seam allowance.  Adjust the side seams and/or darts if necessary.  Cut the excess off (brave move) over the top of the waist seam allowance.  Now procede to finish the waist as you want to.

    2)  Get one of those old chalk type "Poof"  Hem markers.   Decide on the number of inches from the floor that you want the hem.  Mark it yourself, or ask the neighbor lady to help you, and just mark it evenly.  (You can also do this with a yard stick and pins, but then you definitely will need the neighbor lady to help.)  Hem it according to what has been marked and forget about how long the skirt is or isn't.

    Only since the 1960's did skirts become 17" long, or 19" or 27" or 33".  Up until then, back in the day, skirts were a fashionable 7" from the floor or 9" or 13" or even 3" from the floor.  In the late 60's skirts became short enough that it was just easier to measure the hems down from the waist rather than up from the floor.



  3. jjgg | | #3

    You have a tilted waist which is what is causing the side seams to pull to the back (looking at the second picture). This brings the bottom edge of the front in too close to your legs. From the second picture it also make the back look too short.

    Use Gailanns suggestion - first, when you cut out the pattern (and do this first in cheap muslin) add a larger waistline seam allowance (to give you room to play with). Put on the skirt without the waistband. Put a piece of 1/4 inch elastic around your waist and on top of the skirt. Now pull the skirt front up until the side seams are running vertically to the floor and the skirt is hanging nicely. Take a pen or pencil and mark the muslin where the elastic is sitting at. This is your waistline. When you take the muslin off, the line may be a bit irregular and wavy, just smooth it out keeping it pretty much exactly where you drew it. Trim the seam allowance above it to 5/8 inch (if thats what you use). Now, sew the waist band on at this line.

    Now, take apart this muslin and mark all the seam lines - keep this as your pattern.

  4. Teaf5 | | #4

    Some really good suggestions so far, all of which I've used to fit skirts to my rounder, more mature mid-section.  Here is one more which has helped me considerably:  use a pattern labelled "sits 1-2" below natural waist."  This is not the old hip-huggers we remember, but a cut that reflects a shorter rise that is much more comfortable and fits fuller midsections much better.

    If you're round in the belly, your waistline isn't the smallest measurement; slightly below the roundest part will be smaller--and that's where your skirts will want to slide.  Also, tucking blouses into a high waistline on a rounded belly is not very flattering as it's the broadest part of your torso; a dropped waistline lengthens the bodice and, if you tuck in a blouse, will make the horizontal line narrower.  If you don't tuck in your blouses, they will cover a lowered waistline anyway.

    If you don't want to buy a dropped waist pattern, you can modify a regular-waist skirt pattern by cutting off the top two inches and lengthening the waistband or remarking the facing to fit.  This makes the darts shorter, and the whole skirt will rest comfortably on your hipbones and skim just below the fullest part of your stomach.

    Don't give up!  I've finally made some very comfortable skirts that have finally gotten me out of wearing jeans all the time!

  5. user-51823 | | #5

    i agree that it's not really a matter of your size or shape, but i would add that i see the side seams tilting because of posture. as an experiment, rock your pelvis forward slightly and see what this does to the side seams. this strengthens the abs, which is much healthier for the back. it feels odd at first, but it can become habit and can ease or prevent back problems. that being said, if you don't change your posture, the other suggestions sound useful.

    i would make a pattern by marking where a true vertical line that starts at waist side seam ends at hem. using this line as your new side seam, draft a new skirt pattern where the back favors toward the front as the seam heads down on the back pieces, and the front narrows towards the hem.

  6. jjgg | | #6

    One other thing, when you make the muslin adn put it on to adjust the waist with the elastic, you may end up needing to take out any darts you sewed, and re-doing them. pin them in place while you have the muslin on.

    The rounder the belly or butt, the shorter the dart will be, for flat bellies and butts, the dart will be longer.

  7. fabricholic | | #7

    Oh blingy, I wish I was fat like you; I would have to lose about 60 pounds. LOL Keep plugging on that skirt. I think you are very close to having a skirt pattern that works for you.

  8. Lynnelle | | #8

    It looks to me as if you have a pooky booty.  With a pooky booty, fabric at the back has to curve over the hump which, in turn, will make the back hem shorter than the front.  To adjust, I would measure the offset, i.e., find the difference between the front hem and the back hem.  Then, slash and spread the back horizontally (perpendicular to the grainline) this amount while tapering to nothing at the side seams.

    I browsed some of the other comments and did not quite follow some of the suggestions.  I think this is a quick fix that is worth trying.  If it doesn't help, then attempt some of the other measurements.

    I too have a pooky booty and have to make these adjustments on shorter skirts.


    1. User avater
      blingy | | #9

      I don't know how to add on to a discussion so I hope this goes alright.  Thanks to all who have given me loads of ideas for my skirt problem.  Yes I do have very bad posture, in fact for the last couple of weeks I have not been able to stand straight up.  There is something going on in my lower right back that is keeping me from sleeping well and from walking and standing upright.  That said I still need to do something about this simple skirt.  It's funny, I made this skirt in a class at the local community college and now I think of it, this skirt fit even the skinny girls like this.  Not quite to this extreme but enough to wonder.  I will let you know how this all turns out.  I just cannot let this simple 4 piece skirt beat me.  I little zipper and 4 pieces of cloth and I am in a tizzy!

      1. user-51823 | | #10

        you say the same skirt fi everyone the same wrong way-- what is the pattern co. and #?

        1. User avater
          blingy | | #11

          This pattern is Simplicity Easy Chic #5311.  What surprises me is that the instructor didn't point this out at the time we made these skirts in class.  All I am looking for is a simple shortish skirt pattern that I can make a summer denim skirt out of.  To try to save this I am going to make it bigger around the hips, especially the butt, maybe it will hang better.  At first I thought the front was the problem, now I am thinking its the back that's too tight.  I read in Sandra Betzina's book about gaining weight and the waist line rising, pulling the front of a skirt up, my skirt is going down in front.  It probably will never be a great fit, owing to my weight and horrible posture due to back problems but if I can make it a little less noticeable I will be happy.  I will keep you all posted and thanks again for all the wonderful replies!

          1. GailAnn | | #12

            Hi Blingy --  Remember me?  I'm the one who told you that ALL my skirts fit me like that, and then offered 2 ways arround it. 

            Here is my favorite skirt pattern  McCall's M4474  VIEW "A"!   Just go ahead and throw out all the other views, right at the start, and get it over with!  It might be longer than you want, but you can easily shorten it to whatever length you prefer.

            Some of the Threads 'fitting purests' might not approve ...... so I haven't mentioned it before .......  but, this is why it fits me..... AND ..... why I like it.  Six gores.  Nice flat waistband in the front (which on me does have to be cut down about an inch in the center, tapered toward the side seams) and an easy fold down elastic casing in the back.  

            Choose the size to fit the larger of your hips/tummy measurement.  The waist will fit because of the elastic in the back.  Very good for weight gain/loss, menopausal body reconfiguration, and, uh, bloating.



          2. User avater
            blingy | | #13

            Thanks, I will look for this.  I got to thinking, maybe this style just isn't for my body type.  Too plain and flat while I am so very round. 

          3. user-51823 | | #16

            i think the style looks fine, i personally think a simple slim-line skirt can be more flattering to tummies than fuller styles, especially when worn with a jacket or tunic top that doesn't cling to the body.

          4. jjgg | | #20

            I want to second GailAnns suggestion about a different pattern.
            Keep in mind that commercial patterns are well known to have mistakes in them as well as very poor pattern drafting and fit. the problem could well be just a bad pattern.

          5. GailAnn | | #21

            Also like Simplicity #4881 view "A", this has, I see, a short version view "C" which might be just what you are looking for.  --  Gail

          6. jjgg | | #24

            Hi Blingy, I thought I posted this earlier, but don't see it, so here goes again.I want to second GailAnn's comment on trying a different pattern. Commercial patterns are notorious for being poorly drafted. and the pattern you have may be a bad pattern. I have seen many mistakes on patterns. Generally they are drafted by computer, and not tested out, I think some of the people drafting them have no background in pattern drafting, just CAD programs!Also, a commercial pattern is drafted initially for a medium size (sz 10 maybe) and then graded up and down for larger and smaller sizes. They are also made to fit the perfect figure - erect good posture, waistline without the middle age roll just below it etc. In other words, they are not made for real people.So don't be upset at what you are finding, get a style that looks good on you , adjust the fit and save the new pattern.You are very right about no one teaches fitting, well, almost no one, I do. It's one of my most popular classes, and my students are always so amazed when they see how their body differs from the commercial pattern. It becomes very obvious to see why they had such problems with fit.Don't give up, I think you said you are new to sewing, so it's trail and error for a while.

          7. User avater
            blingy | | #25

            Please come to Michigan and hold Fitting classes here, or teach people here so they can go on and teach!  The main problem I have is trying to figure out just what is wrong.  I look through Sandra Betzina'z book and I tell myself, Yea, that's me I have sloping shoulders, I have narrow shoulders, no wait, I have broad shoulders!  Dear God!  I never thought of myself as some kind of freak but reading some of these books I do wonder.  I have been reading a lot about how poorly patterns are made, just look at any magazine, its all how to correct problems...I think the folks who draw these things up for consumers to buy should have to make a garment from their own pattern, and not a skeleton, on a real person! 

      2. Carolinemary | | #18

        I just read your interesting problems with what seems to be a very simple pattern, and my suggestion is this.Forget about your sewing problems for the time being, and take care of your posture and back problems by getting therapy for your back. Then your fitting problems may disappear also. I'm serious!!! I developed

      3. Carolinemary | | #19

        My reply disappeared, so I am repeating it. It wasn't finished. Your fitting problems may be due to your back and posture problems. I've been through this myself and found that physical therapy for my back solved it all. I have carried a heavy shoulder bag for many years on my right shoulder; and when I went to a therapist for my back problem, he
        pointed out immediately that my right shoulder is two inches lower than my left. Several weeks of therapy took care of the problem; but of course, one has to continue those exercises for good. Otherwise the problem will return.Taking care of your back and posture problems may take care of most of
        this particular fitting problem.Good luck!

  9. denise | | #14

    Dear  Blingy

    Perhaps you are being over fussy, I cannot see your sewing but i think when i started sewing again after 20 years i have stopped doing a lot of the things i did when the children where small tacking everything turning under seems,  I am not saying i have become sloppy i have just found better ways to use my sewing machine,  I now do french seams when I have fabric that frays a lot, and I use my zig zag more and i like to sew stretch fabrics as they seem to sit better for me anyway.

    And i make my skirt shirt etc up in calico you can do this very quickly  just make it sew it fits you then keep it as a guide any sewing mistakes made with the calico helps when you use  your fabric.

    I use elastic band waist skirts as i am useless at zips no matter how much i try they are never perfect, I only sew what i know i can do and when i find a good pattern i stick to it.

    My straight skirt pattern is nearly work out it is a simple easy long straight that has lots of versions but is elastic waisted and i make it in different fabric,

    I have just found a wonderful shirt pattern that i have now used three times different fabric.

    I also have found a little prayer to my passed over motherinlaw who was a tailoress works wonders i think she is there guiding my thoughts,  i also take myself away from the machine that i once said i would though off our harbour bridge before i would take up sewing again.

    Also i love to quilt and this is what bought me back and we also now have a grandson i started on his overalls,  i buy my fabric from a wonderful site that give me so much help and feed back and i think if you are sewing with beautiful fabric you get so much pleasure,  AND ALSO THREADS SITE IS THE MOST AMAZING SOURCE OF KNOWLEDGE I WATCH THE VIDEOS ALL THE TIME.

    just relax make a cuppa

     and don't let people be negative around you.

    I will tell you a funny story,  my sewing is very average but my fabric is wonderful, i have a very snobby friend who ask me where i bought my skirt I make up some rediculous shop name and she said"   yes i should of known its wonderful", the next time i wore another skirt she ask me the same thing and is said " well i made it,", she walked over to the kettle to make a drink and never acknowleged me.

    Well i have the last laugh .

    Any way hope that helps if you want to know where i get my fabric and help from email me.

    1. fabricholic | | #15

      Hi Denise,I like your funny story. A lot of the girls at work shop at thrift stores and I got one of them to start calling the store Coco Chanel's of Birmingham. She had never even heard of her. I think it is funny that your friend said she should have known, that it was wonderful. People are funny. Anyway, even though this thread was not addressed to me, I really enjoyed it.Marcy

      1. denise | | #17

        hi marcy   glad you replied  i often have a giggle to my self about this type of human behaviour .  Coco of Birmhingham i must remember that are you british.

        1. fabricholic | | #22

          Me, British? I am about as Southern as you can get. Birmingham, Alabama. She got tired of saying that she got this or that at the thrift store, so I named it for her.

          1. denise | | #23

            there is a birmingham in Britian.

            I am Australian/.

          2. fabricholic | | #26

            I know. We borrowed Birmingham, England's name because we were very industrial, with iron ore, coal and limstone. Now, I guess we are more famous for our medical facilities. Have you met some of the ladies here from Australia?

          3. denise | | #27

            yes  i think so

  10. user-60627 | | #28

    Don't give up on your sewing. It's hard to pick up what's exactly wrong with your skirt, because there are several things going on at once with it. Looking at your pictures, I suspect that it is a badly drafted pattern originally, which are causing the following problems:
    1) look at how much the side seams are swinging backwards. This is because your waist is dipping downwards. You would probably have pull up the center front waist 3" to get the seams perpendicular to the floor.
    2) the other problem with this skirt is that it isn't deep enough for the back half of your body. The side seams are way too far back of your body's side seam, and it looks like the back part of the skirt is skimpy in width around your body.
    If you want to "fix" this pattern to get it to fit like it is supposed to, you are going to have to add some to the back side seams and remove an equal amount from the front side seams to get the side seam in the correct place on you body (the side seam should be visually in the middle of your body's side view). Then you are going to have to get the side seams to come forward by removing the execess fabric that is below the front waist. I think the pattern has a cut-on waistband, so on this pattern I would take a tuck just below the waist, working from the center front and tapering to the sides. I bet your tuck will be about 1-1/2" in the center front. You can then transfer this tuck to the pattern front piece, to remove the excess fabric in the front. The tuck in the paper will make a bend in your pattern piece center front. Just re-align the center front after the tuck (you will have to insert some pattern paper.

    After you do all this, you may still have to make the rear booty adjustments that the one poster mentioned, because your rear half is taking up some of that material from the waist. In Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing, she used to have a very good method for that alteration.

    It is a badly drafted pattern, but this is good pattern for you to learn how do alterations for fit. I hope this helps you get pointed in the right direction.

  11. Stitchwitch | | #29

    I sew a lot for ladies with your shape. I design skirt & trouser patterns from scratch. It is far easier than doing all thoise painfull alterations. Here are some suggestions.

    Purchase the Islander DVD regarding Pants fitting. It also comes with a booklet and gives you very easy directions to draw up your pants pattern. Skirts and pants are the same apart from the crotch section on pants.

    Your front and back are not symmetrical. You are bigger in the front than the back. This causes the side seam to be pulled forward by your waist. Solution - Make the Front Skirt section bigger than the Back Skirt. Once the side seams is perpendicular the hem will also hang straight.

    How do you do this? Get a sewing buddy and tie a 1/4" elastic around YOUR waist. This is where you would like youe waist to be. Do the same to your hip area. If your tummy is wider than your hips work on the measurements of your tummy. (This might be true for you.) Now mark your side seam on the elastic. Get a front measurement and get a back measurement for your waist and your hip.

    If you work with a commercial pattern do the following. Get the size the closest to your waist measurement. I know they say the hip, but it is easier for me to increase / decrease the hip because you don't have darts to consider like in the wasit.

    Take YOUR front back measurement and compare it to the pattern's front  measurement. Then you will see how much you have to increase, in your case, the front waist of the pattern. REMEMBER to take ease into consideration. You want your actual body measurement PLUS about 2-3" for moving ease. You can increase the pattern's measurement by making the front darts a bit smaller and by increasing the side seams. For example if you have to increase by 3" you have 2 darts to play with and 2 side seams.  In your case I will also raise the Centre Front seam by about 1" and drop the CB seam by 1 - 1/2".

    According to picture 2 I would increase your hip by about 1" on either sides. You might have to make your back darts bigger and longer as well. Be patient. I know fitting is a boar but just look at yourself in the mirror or get a buddy. Ask youself. What is wrpng? Whis is it wrong and then it is pretty much common sense to fix the problem. Sandra Betzin's book on fitting is also nice and easy to follow. Mostly things are either too small or too large.  One more thing measure the distance of your waist to your hip. You might have to increase that distance on your pattern and that is why I said you might have to lengthen your back darts. I find that elastic in the back section of the skirt / pants are very comfortable for a lady like you. That is off-course if you are going to wear a jacket / blouse that will cover the waistband.

    Good luck. I know it is a lot but YOU CAN DO IT!

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