Now that we understand patterns and have the perfect fabric bought, lets talk about getting a great fit! If you are like me, you don’t fit into one size perfectly. I am like a Christmas tree, small at the top, big at the bottom. Or maybe they call that the pear shape?!?! No matter what you call it, not all of us have the perfect average body. Some of us may have longer than average arms, some of us may be taller or shorter than average. Whatever it may be, knowing how to alter the pattern to get the perfect fit is essential to loving the finished garment. No one wants to spend time sewing a garment only to dislike the finished fit. Luckily one of the beauties of sewing is that you can make it custom to your liking!
Two steps go into getting a great fit. First is altering the pattern. Second is making a muslin, which we will talk about tomorrow.
Like I stated before, make sure you take your measurements. If you are all over the charts you can do a few things. One is to simply choose the biggest size then take the garment in once you are done sewing.
Or you can choose the size the most difficult to alter, usually bust, and then grade in between sizes. For example according to the pattern you fall in a size 4 for bust and size 8 for hips you would choose size 4 to get you started. Now to grade, you start at the size 4 line close to the bust, but under the arm hole, and make a gradual line between sizes, following the shape as best as possible, grade out to size 8. That’s it! Now you just cut out your newly sized pattern. What if you are exactly in between sizes? Simply draw a line exactly in between the two sizes you fall in! Easy peasy alteration!
Maybe you fit into the sizes ok but you want to adjust something else on the pattern, like the garment length. Some patterns have a shorten lengthen line. If so cut on that line. If the pattern doesn’t come with a shorten/lengthen line, choose somewhere in the middle of the pattern. Don’t shorten or lengthen right at the bottom. When altering a pattern you want to do it where there is the least amount going on. If you simply shorten/lengthen the bottom, it can change the shape of the bottom causing the garment to hang funny or fit differently. If you shorten/lengthen in the middle you can draw in a new line at the side to gradually blend the two pieces. This allows for the bottom shape to stay the same!
To lengthen the garment:
Cut on the line marked in pattern, or the one you created. Slide apart the two pieces by the amount you want to lengthen. Add a new piece of paper between them and tape together. Draw in new lines to connect the two original pieces and cut off extra paper!
To shorten a garment:
Same as the lengthen, only in reverse! Overlap the pieces you just cut to the amount you want to shorten the pattern. Then redraw and smooth the lines.
These are very basic pattern alterations to get the best fit. They work best on garments that are easier fitting. If the design is very fitted or very detailed, you may need to dig deeper into the fitting and altering world. There is so much more that could be covered on this topic, but to keep it beginner friendly I wanted to give you the basics!
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