Quick, Simple Fitting Techniques

Nancy Pivot and Slide Sleeve

“I don’t sew for myself because patterns don’t fit me.” Does that sound familiar? That’s not surprising – they don’t fit any of us! We’re all different, but with just a few quick, simple fitting techniques, we can tame the ‘Fit Monster”. You can easily be SEW much happier with what you make!

Linda Lee Measuring
Image Source: The Sewing Workshop

Start With Your Real Measurements

Recording your own body measurements is the first step towards better fitting garments. Take them yourself or get together with a trusted friend. Just be sure to record your actual measurements, not the one’s you wish you had! Most of us know our bust, waist and hip measurement, but do you know your shoulder width, pant length and sleeve length?

Linda Lee of The Sewing Workshop pattern company offers a helpful PDF chart that you can download and fill out. Along with the listed measurements, think about where you are often frustrated with fit and measure there, too. Linda also offers an excellent Craftsy workshop on Fitting Solo you may want to check out. Click here for the Body Measurement Chart.

McCall Misses Size Chart
Image Source: McCall Pattern Company

Choose Your Pattern Size

Patterns are sized differently than ready-to-wear clothing and you have the luxury of using more than one size for quick, simple fitting. If your bust, waist and hip measurements fall into two or even three different sizes listed – no problem! Just use the size that corresponds to each. That’s your personal size and part of the joy of making your own Handmade Wardrobe! For more help, click here for information on choosing sizes from McCall Patterns.

You’re the Boss of the Pattern

Once you’ve compared your measurements and decided on the size(s) you’ll start with, it’s time to compare and adjust. Make sure you allow for seam allowance and get ready to measure your actual pattern pieces in the areas where fit is a concern. Use your body measurements or measure garments that fit well and record that information.

Afraid of making changes? Keep this in mind: Once you purchase a pattern, it’s yours and you can do anything you want to it!

The Sewing Workshop measurement chart lists the minimum amount of bust ease for various parts of a pattern. “Ease” is the amount of extra width in a pattern that allows you to move, breathe and be comfortable in what you’re wearing. Ease is also important in other areas of your pattern as we don’t usually want our clothes to be skin tight!

Common, Easy to Fix Fit Frustrations

Styling Design Ruler
Image Source: Dritz YouTube
  1. Sleeveless Armhole Too High
    If your underarms are often strangled by a too high armhole, you can fix that! Compare the depth you need to your pattern piece and adjust using a Dressmaker’s Curve ruler. My favorite fitting tools are a roll of tissue paper, a pencil or pen and the Dritz Styling Design Ruler. Click here for a video that shows how the ruler is used.

    Nancy Pivot and Slide Sleeve
    Image Source: Nancy Zieman YouTube
  2. Sleeves Too Tight
    Measure your upper arm, lower arm or both if needed. Compare your measurement(s) to the actual sleeve pattern piece at the same place you measured your arm. You can easily correct the width of the sleeve using the Pivot and Slide method outlined by Nancy Zieman in her book, Pattern Fitting With Confidence. Click here for a short YouTube about Nancy’s method.
  3. Neckline Too Low
    Measure yourself from your front shoulder to where you would like the neckline to hit. Measure your pattern piece in the same area and determine the amount you need to subtract from the neck height. Using a Dressmaker’s Curve Ruler, re-draw the neckline so that it is the height you want.
  4. Waistline Too Fitted
    Have you found a pattern design you love, but the waist looks too fitted? You can make a quick, simple fitting adjustment the waist shape and still enjoy the original design! Compare your waist measurement and determine how much you would like to widen the waist of the pattern. Using added tissue paper and a pen, “straighten out” the waistline blending your new line into the pattern lines above and below it.
  5. Top, Tunic or Dress Length
    There’s nothing more frustrating than finishing a lovely Top and finding that it is too short. Or miles too long! With your measurements, keep track of the “Finished Length” that you most love in various garments you’ll be sewing. Compare that measurement to the pattern piece, use the “Shorten/Lengthen” line and adjust the length to what you would like.
Craftsy Fitting Guide
Image Source: Craftsy

Measure, Sew, Love, Repeat

These quick, simple fitting techniques will make a huge difference in your sewing satisfaction! For more tips, click here for Craftsy’s Fitting Guide. Once you form he habit of measuring yourself, measuring the pattern and adjusting from there, you’ll branch out into all kinds of changes. Your sewing life will improve, your Handmade Wardrobe will fill and you’ll be proudly responding to lots of well-deserved compliments!

4 thoughts on “Quick, Simple Fitting Techniques

  1. Pat Gottshalk Reply

    Another great post. I have been doing a few adjustments on patterns but this will help me try to get my adjustments closer to what is needed. This is a great topic for a class. My challenge will to be in Seattle when you offer it.

    • Annette Millard Post authorReply

      Thanks, Pat! I’m glad you found the info helpful!!

  2. Patricia Reply

    Great post Annette…thanks for the video link too. I’m keeping this one forever

    • Annette Millard Post authorReply

      Thanks so much, Patricia, I’m glad you found the info helpful. Here’s to a simple, but better fit!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *