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Fitting: Key Pattern Adjustments | Video

Two pattern adjustments that can simplify the fitting process.
Threads #213, Feb./March 2021

Evamarie Gomez-Bostic and Carol Fresia; Videographer: Jeff Roos

In the video Fitting: Key Pattern Adjustments, Judith Neukam walks you through two important pattern alterations that can simplify the fitting process. Judith shows you how to create a template of your shoulder slope and transfer the changes to your pattern. She also demonstrates how taking the right length measurements can make all the difference in a well-fitting garment.

This detailed tutorial is one video in the comprehensive Teach Yourself to Sew series.

Teach Yourself to Sew

Judith got her first taste of sewing when she took the free lessons that came with her mother’s sewing machine purchase. Judith was 9 at the time. Soon after, she was sewing her own clothes and feeding her passion for the craft. In her Teach Yourself to Sew series, Judith shares her enduring love of sewing and her invaluable years of sewing experience.

Getting started

She starts with discussing the equipment and the essential sewing notions for anyone who sews. You’ll learn about shopping for fabrics, choosing patterns (including selecting the correct size), and planning the perfect pattern layout. From machine-sewing simple seams to inserting zippers and stitching buttonholes, Judith demonstrates the key steps to making a custom garment.

Discover methods for clean-finishing seam allowances and applying facings so all edges are neat. To add shape to garments, Judith explains how and why to sew darts, and how to gather fabric for volume. Other garment elements, such as sleeves, pockets, and elasticized waistbands, are shown in easy-to-follow video tutorials.

Advancing your skills

When you’re ready to challenge yourself further, tune in to Judith’s overview of couture garments and sewing techniques. Even if you never intend to become the next Coco Chanel, you’ll learn methods that add quality to your everyday wardrobe. Find out how to perfectly match stripes, plaids, and prints; baste seams; and insert underlinings and linings.

Finally, Judith shares the basics of pattern fitting and adjustment. Her method begins at the shoulders, ensuring the garment hangs properly. Follow along as Judith shows how to create a shoulder template that you can use again and again to adjust patterns before cutting the fabric. As a bonus, you’ll even learn how to create a custom dress form so you can fit garments on a body that truly represents your true body shape.


Previous: Fitting a Pattern: Downloadable Measurement Tables Next: How to Prepare Patterns for Fit


  1. calebsgran | | #1

    I find Judith's videos on fitting adjustment so helpful. All her videos are great. I have been sewing for years but believe my techniques have greatly improved. Thank Judith.

  2. Topstitch | | #2

    Thank you for this video. One clarification please:
    The fitting problem demonstrated at the beginning of the video and the pattern used during the adjustment process required opposite adjustments. (The t-shirt worn at the beginning needs to have the shoulder slope lowered, not raised in order to remove the extra fabric causing the pucker)?

  3. carolfresia | | #3

    Hi, Topstitch.
    The fitting problem Judith shows on the T-shirt is actually just incidental--she commented on it because the model happened to be wearing a purchased top that showed a fit problem through the shoulder wrinkles.

    The adjustment she demonstrates is to a different design, a basic dress pattern. On the dress pattern, the shoulder slope needs to be raised. If she were working with the t-shirt pattern, the slope might need to be lowered, as you note. (In reality, on a RTW garment like that it would probably be easiest to just pop a thin shoulder pad in on the model's lower shoulder, to even the shoulders.)

    Sorry for any confusion!
    Carol Fresia
    Threads Senior Technical Editor

  4. user-6825490 | | #4

    People have watched videos and are commenting can even watch anything. What this, am tired of the site it so on stable, don't see benefits of subscribe if this what I get

  5. MakingitWork | | #5

    I would have liked to see this but the video is not available. Why??? Why have a membership that I PAID FOR if I can not take advantage of the promised instructions. I am very disappointed.

  6. Solara75is | | #6

    I cannot access the video even though I have a membership. Where is the link?

  7. JeanetteL | | #7

    For those of you who couldn't get the video, perhaps your problem is the same as mine. I got a pop-up that said I need to update my Flash player.

  8. User avater
    Sewmarj | | #8

    and now a video showing an adjustment to actually LOWER the seam please.
    Also - what about the side seam ? Doesn't the adjustment add or substract length that will change the dart and/or bust point?

    1. carolfresia | | #14

      Hi, Sewmarj,
      To lower the shoulder seam, simply cut out the armhole as shown, and slide it down the required amount, then true the shoulder seamline. In the majority of cases, this isn't a huge shift, but of course it does bring the armhole's bottom curve closer to a side bust dart.
      This adjustment is only a preliminary one that is intended to make your first muslin hang better on your shoulder so you can proceed with further fitting changes. Once the shoulder slope has been customized, you'll need to try on the muslin and consider the position of the darts and bust point.
      Carol J. Fresia, Threads Senior Technical Editor

  9. User avater
    Sewmarj | | #9

    Judy is great at explaining and demonstrating- as always. It's a problem I actually have - shoulder slope - so Im serious about another video, PLEASE

  10. Marthamm | | #10

    Judith's videos are so clear. They make me want to start sewing clothing again.

  11. user-7451282 | | #11

    I am confused about how far down the center front line I need to slide it. On mine it seems like I need to slide it way further than the neckline

    1. carolfresia | | #15

      I'm not sure exactly what you're asking here. The pattern should be slid down or up until the neckline end of the shoulder seamline is resting on the template line. Keep the pattern's center-front line aligned on the template's center-front line so you don't shift angles or grainlines, but you don't need to be concerned with how far it is moved down the center front.

      Carol J. Fresia, Threads Senior Technical Editor

  12. SewCypress | | #12

    I liked the idea of drawing the shoulders on a paper taped to the wall. And thanks for the measurement demo. She knows what she’s doing so I’ll do it her way. Elastic at the waist from now on. No more winging it unless I happen to be sewing for an angel.

  13. User avater
    [email protected] | | #13

    I did one of these drawings about 2 years ago and revisit it every 6 months, just in case my frame has changed a bit due to aging. This was one of the great tips I learned from Judy. My drawing goes all the way down to the hips. My husband did a great job drawing my silhouette on a piece of fiberboard. I had him draw it in pencil and then I redrew it in a colored marker.

  14. user-3290184 | | #16

    Thank you Judith. That was just perfect!. Very helpful. You solved a problem I've been trying to figure out. Using the triangle is a perfect solution to draw the shoulder slope. The alteration process was very clear.
    Karen - KRArtToWear

  15. user-7828967 | | #17

    Is there anything else to know when doing a princess seam with the shoulder line in two pattern pieces?

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