Figuring it out in 2015

This was a big year for me in terms of figuring out how to fit my figure better. My fit journey started like many others do – measuring the bust/waist/hips, comparing it to the pattern, and picking a size. based on those measurements -I’m 5’8″ and 34.5″/29″/39″ (plus or minus 0.5″ on any given day)* – I assumed I had a mild pear shape .

After six+ years of sewing, I’ve realized I don’t fit easily within any of the figure typing systems – not without caveats. The closest I can get to a neat description is an extra-wide-shouldered long-torsoed short-legged rectangle in the front / hourglass in the back. And yet with a body type that apparently doesn’t exist and some physical asymmetry, I can walk without falling over. Sometimes, I even find RTW pants that fit reasonably well.

All that is to say, I don’t think I’m that unusual in needing a more nuanced way of talking about shape and fit. I think quantifying and naming our unique shape – without judgment – can be a way to treat our bodies with more care and attention.

So, listed below are some of my fit epiphanies this year.

I learned just how wide – 17″ – and square – I require an extra 1/2″ at the shoulder seam – my shoulders are. Luckily for me (and perhaps frustrating to almost everybody else!), the Big 4 across-shoulder measurement seems to run quite wide; I can wear a 14 in the shoulders, which works well enough for my waist and hips in fitted to semi-fitted designs.


Having square shoulders means there’s more distance between your shoulder tip to your armpit. I do a 1/2″ square shoulder adjustment the back of every bodice (since my shoulders are also forward) grading to nothing at the neck line. After fixing the shoulder, I adjust the sleeve. To my great surprise, I’ve been able to successfully do this on every Big 4 pattern I’ve tried. It’s also positioned the bust darts correctly.

As for raglan sleeves, I now know I need either a two-piece sleeve or a dart; the angle between shoulders and neck is just too sharp for an unshaped raglan sleeve to hang off of it. (Imagine a towel draping over the arm of a chair.) This was the key in fitting my Yona coat, which has a two-piece raglan sleeve, and my McCall’s 6992 sweatshirt, which has a dart.

Before and after a sq. shoulder adj. on a raglan sleeve

While I can sew a 14 for my shoulders, waist, and hips in Big 4 patterns, my bust is smaller at 34.5″. I’ve had luck with both grading down to a 12 through the bust for the front and back bodices, or doing a 2″ SBA to a 14. I think grading down is a better method as I wear a B-cup, which is the size Big 4 patterns are drafted for.

Waist / Hips / Rear
I noticed something strange when I was working on my skirt sloper – my back waist arc was dramatically smaller than my front waist. Comparing these numbers to the drafting standards in my manual was enlightening. My front waist measured 16″ and back waist 12.75″, which put me in very different sizes from front to back. | skirt sloper

To make matters even more interesting, the situation reverses itself at the hips – my back hip arc is much, much bigger than my front. All this is to say there is a dramatic and challenging curve in my back torso, and not a lot happening in the front. No wonder I always have fabric pooling at my low back. | Vogue 1387

In the upcoming year, I’d like to try a couple of experiments for fitting my lower half – sizing down combined with a full butt adjustment, grading between different sizes in the waist/hip and back/front, or getting more into self-drafting.

In conclusion
So that’s where this year brought me – some standard shoulder adjustments, a small but fairly easy to fit bust, and some front-to-back asymmetry from the waist down. Sometimes it sounds like an exciting puzzle; other times I just want to sew up a giant caftan and call it good!

How are you doing on your fit journey? Any interesting realizations this year? Have you noticed any fascinating asymmetry – 0r maybe even rarer, perfect symmetry! – in your figure?

*Just a note, I’ve stayed away from sharing measurements and sizes in a cohesive way, but I’ve been changing my ideas (perhaps due to an interesting conversation that Heather started!) I don’t like how often elements of women’s physical appearance (and increasingly, men’s) are quantified and judged. But since I’ve started sewing – and I hope I’m not alone in this – mine and others’ measurements feel more quantitative and less qualitative.


84 thoughts on “Figuring it out in 2015

  1. I really enjoy your blog and am always pleased to read a new one. I’m interested to know the how of some of the changes you make, for example on the raglan sleeves and regarding the shoulder fit from shoulder to armpit that you mention. I also have fitting issues about my shoulders.

    1. Hi Diane! Thanks so much. When I started playing around with shoulder fit, I added 1″ SAs to the shoulder seams and basted and pinned in place to figure out how much extra I needed. I struggled quite a bit to translate this idea to raglan sleeves! Heather Lou just recently posted a tutorial, which shows a diagram of the same adjustment I made: You’ll need a two-piece raglan or a darted raglan to make adjustments for shoulders, as far as I can tell. Good luck!

  2. Loved reading this! And I agree about sharing numbers. It just drilled home your point for me – that for example we are similarish in terms of measurements so might pick the same pattern/RTW size, but we have totally unique fitting quirks outside of that (I’m small-shouldered, larger cup, high waisted, shorter etc etc). So it’s no wonder a standard size doesn’t fit all. Learning about fit and about your figure quirks definitely go hand in hand. Learning this year that my shoulders and high bust are 2 sizes smaller than my waist and my hips are a size larger again I’ve at least got a standard set of alterations to run through before fine-tuning.

    1. Yah, those main measurements don’t seem to mean as much as I would have assumed when I was starting out sewing! Unless you jump immediately into drafting your own slopers, trial and error using those measurements seem to be how most of us start.

  3. I agree, when you can look at it as, “look how unique my body is” rather than “this size defines me”, that is much healthier. Of course we need a way to talk about our bodies that isn’t judgmental, and I do think it helps make that happen when sewists post their measurements and fitting challenges. Those kinds of posts on many blogs have certainly helped me to figure things out in the past, particularly fitting pants.
    My learning this year was mainly around process and materials, and not so much fitting. In the last several years I’ve gravitated heavily towards making and altering patterns based on clothes I have that fit me well already. I realized while reading this that I don’t have the detailed map of how my body compares to standard patterns that you do, just an idea of the most relevant/obvious things. If I decided to make a big 4 pattern tomorrow, I’d pretty much be starting from scratch with a muslin … but that’s just not the path I’ve been on lately. I tend to reach for one of my own patterns instead, and alter it to get what I want.

    1. I really enjoyed reading your posts this year – I love how much thought you poured into materials and process! I let that take a back seat this year for me, but am excited to explore it more next year. As for how you’re making clothes that fit, basing it on garments you already own awesome! I’ve only gained fit knowledge because I kept running against the same problems in every garment I’ve bought or made. My preference is to use patterns I already own, too, because though I feel empowered with standard adjustments there are still ease and design to consider!

  4. It’s great to read about your fitting journey! I haven’t made much progress in terms of actual garments that fit this year since I’ve been pregnant since April, but I do feel like I’ve got a better handle on the basic alterations I need – giant FBA, forward shoulders, swayback. Admitting that I really can’t get away without these alterations (even if it’s supposed to be a loose fit or was originally drafted for a D+ cup) was a big step. Also, making real muslins for things, even maternity clothes. It makes such a huge difference!

    For next year I think the big focus is going to be on style and figuring out how to make stuff I’ll really wear, rather than fitting. I need to fit a button-down shirt or shirt-dress pattern on myself, but once that’s done I’m hoping I can start to work more from tried and true patterns where I’ve really dialed in the fit.

    1. I hear ya – until this year, I was often tempted to make a smaller size based on my bust instead of grading down! As of this last week, I think I’ve finally nailed the fit on a button-down pattern – and I want to just go crazy making variations.

  5. Thank you for sharing! I started off in the beginning of the year on a fit mission, but kinda fell off as the days went by. I have a similar fit conundrum when it comes to my lower half. When I made up my skirt sloper, it was enlightening. I haven’t had the same luck as you with the big 4, but the indies seem to fit pretty well – except for in the waist. Because there is less ease, and I have waist that is 3-4″ bigger than “standard” for my size, it can create a little bit of a mess if the style is fitted. My goal next year is to refit my slopers and figure out how to use them to compare to finished patterns. Finding info on this has been a little elusive!

    1. I was hoping to compare my sloper to patterns and I’ve found that to be confusing as well. Sometimes the design of a pattern is just too different from a sloper that it’s hard to compare. A lot of dresses have really simple bodices, though, so maybe it just makes sense to substitute in your own draft!

  6. This year I learned that I need to adjust for a sloping shoulder, that I really need to do a FBA and should try a sway back adjustment. I still have much to learn. I often include the size(s) I use and measurements in my blog posts if I feel it will help someone better fit a pattern for themselves. I don’t get hung up on the numbers.

  7. Fitting is always the hard part in making garments for myself. It’s so easy to fit others! I love detailed fit posts like this one. I usually make a short waist adjustment of 2″ all ’round, an FBA, and forward-sloping shoulders for the upper half. Vogue patterns always fit me beautifully out of the envelope with minor adjustments required, but I’ve been happy with a few things made up from BurdaStyle Magazine, too. As for my bottom half…. I’ve not made a skirt sloper yet, and probably should, although I know my back is smaller than my front at the waist, and I always do a high hip adjustment, and grade out a size through the hips. Oh! And I shorten the front hip depth, grading to nothing at the side seams, too.

    Talk about customizing patterns! 🙂

    1. I admire your ability to fit others! I find that even more difficult. How wonderful that Vogues fit you nicely – I love a lot of their designer patterns. Do you ever notice any variation between designers? I’ve only tried a couple.

  8. Hi, thanks for posting this information. I have almost the exact same body type as you. In fact I started to sew again after a long hiatus because I could not find skinny jeans that would fit my backside without being too loose in the front. I do a Full Butt Adjustment every time I make pants, fitted skirts or even a narrow coat. I used to sew 12 in Simplicity and Vogue and 38 in Burda but found I had to add to torso length and sometimes add to the shoulder width depending on the style. I find it easier to start with a size 14 or 40 and adjust from there. (Strangely I find McCall’s shoulder width in size 14 to be a tad too big on me. I sew McCall’s less frequently than the others.)

    We definitely live in a culture where women’s bodies are publicly and privately judged and criticized regularly. In sewing my own clothes, I have begun to judge and criticize my own body much less. Thanks again for posting and happy to hear there is someone else who shares my fit issues.


    1. I don’t get the sense that there are a lot of us with this body type – it is nice to hear of another one! I really need to try that full butt adjustment… I feel very lucky to have the time and inclination to make my own clothing, as I agree that meeting my own fitting needs has reduced judging my shape.

      1. I was going to say that I also think we have a body type in common! I’m all around about an inch bigger in measurements, but I also have broadish shoulders, a small bust and a very curvy butt. I’ve figured out my bottom half pretty well (I started with the Sewaholic Thurlow and it fits so. well. in the back – when I went to make another shorts pattern, I did a big butt adjustment and compared it to the Thurlow and it lined up exactly, so it was clearly the right adjustment to make), but I’m still working on my upper half. The square shoulders thing is something I need to investigate, I’ve always thought I had low armpits, but maybe it’s square shoulders!
        And I am interested in people’s measurements, but it’s not always as informative as you think. I have a sewing friend with the same full bust measurement as me (36″), but I wear a 36A bra and she wears a 32F – I’m all ribcage and she’s all boob, but we cut the same size pattern…

      2. I’ve wondered about Sewaholic pants! Since I’ve been focusing on shoulder fit, it’s become clear to me that their tops and jackets need major alterations to fit me but the pants might be good.

        I always thought I had low armpits and a low bust point, but both seem to be shoulder issues. Luckily, I think square shoulders are easy to investigate! I just add an extra inch to the shoulder seam and play around with where and how much excess to add.

      3. I wanted to add one more thing. My shoulders measure 17″ wide and are square, just like you. One benefit I’ve found is NEVER having to add shoulder pads to jackets and coats. (I used to remove shoulder pads in RTW garments.) I have found no need for them as I have built-in shoulder pads. So that is one ‘yay’ for square shoulders!


  9. This is such great information regarding your journey to a better fit! I, myself, have only gotten to a place where I know to add an extra 2-3 inches to a bodice for Vogue patterns… and that I need to really spend time on McCalls patterns to get a decent fit, but haven’t spent that time nonetheless. I tend to get too frustrated and stop a project all together…. I guess that’s why using a muslin is key! 😉

    Thanks so much for sharing your journey. You’ve inspired me to up my game and focus more on this in the new year!

    1. It’s tough when a pattern fits really badly – hard to know where to start and what the root problem even is! I think it’s a great strategy to stick with brands that fit well, especially while you’re figuring it all out. Good luck with your fitting next year 🙂

  10. Your posts about fitting are really inspiring. I find myself constantly turning a blind eye to fit, partly because most of the time I can sort of get away with it, but mostly to do with laziness. Maybe you’ll inspire me to slow down and make 2016 The Year of Fit. Reading your musings on the subject definitely helps me to understand some aspects a bit better, so thanks for sharing your discoveries!

  11. Thank you so much for this post! After having two children my body has changed so much and I have to do a lot of size adjustments. Often, I find that I want to read someone else’s opinion on some of the indie patterns I have been sewing before attempting to fit the pattern…but so few people post actual size/measurements that sometimes their fitting tips do not help me at all!

    1. That’s a whole new fitting ballgame! (It’s taken me 7 years to sort out my fit issues with few figure changes.) I wonder if the pattern makers themselves might be able to help you with fit if blog posts don’t have the info you need?

  12. It’s such an eye opener to begin to understand our individual fit needs! As it happens, my measurements and front/back distribution is almost identical to yours, at least from the bust down. Oh, and we’re the same height! I’ve recently realized that I probably have square shoulders too, so that’s another thing to add to the list (explains all that neck-gape that has plagued me over the years!). I’ve been thinking to add a separate page on my blog with this sort of information, including measurements and typical alterations. It is so helpful in understanding how the fit on one person relates (or doesn’t) to another.

    1. Too funny, I never would have guessed we were similar measurements and even similar distributions! I just took a peek at some of your photos and I think you have square shoulders too.

      I like the idea of a fit/measurements page! I may have to copy you on that 🙂

  13. I like it when people include the size they made and their measurements including height. I wish more people would. Just helps me get a better idea how something might translate to my body. But numbers don’t always tell the story as it is all about how you fill out those numbers. I have spent the last year getting about 4 or 5 patterns perfected into tnts. It was so worth the time. I have very very square defined shoulders.but average in width. I am a X shape. I am fairly straight up and down from a side view. I have a small rib cage,small bust ,small upper bust. I have a very narrow front chest but my back is not overly narrow and it has a definite v shape to it and narrow at the waist. I have fuller thighs and that extends down to just above my knees so I need extra room by my knees. My typical fitting adjustments are square shoulder, take in waist and high hips, and possibly add room in the way low hip area like where my thighs protrude out of my hip line. If I were making a fitted bodice for a dress I would probably have to do a narrow front chest adjustment as well.Typically people are widest at about 8-9 inches below waist and I am widest 10 inches below. To figure that out was revolutionary. I could never figure out why certain silhouettes in rtw would just be tight around my hips despite a small hip measurement. Well, the widest part of the garment was just not in line with where my widest part was. I literally am a X, my skirt sloper has very little curve at the hip its more of a sloped line. My thigh bones are proportionately shorter and my lower leg bones are longer. I am happy right now to just keep sewing repeats of the same things. I don’t wear a lot of variety in my silhouettes.

    1. It’s amazing how much of a difference length makes in the equation – how far your hips are from your waist, etc! Similarly to your earlier issues with hip fit, I always thought my back was broad because of the tightness caused by my square shoulders; really, all the fabric around my arm scye was just pulled up too high!

      It sounds like you have an amazing grasp on your personal fit. Inspiring!

  14. What a great post! I’m similarly shaped in that my front waist is bigger than my back waist, and my back hips are way bigger than my front. Don’t think our figures are similar in any other way tho! 😉

  15. Sooo interesting. I confess, I’ve learned to limit what I sew because I just don’t like/know enough about fitting to get it right! So it’s a lot of semi-fitted shifts for me where I just choose to ignore all the strangeness going on in the back and focus instead on the Really! Awesome! print I’ve picked. However, I think I need to make some of the exact same adjustments you talked about (shoulder – although I have this wild guess that mine might be broad but not square, and does that apply to lats too? Maybe I just need a broad back adjustment? 15 years after playing badminton every day, maybe my broad shoulders have finally shrunken). And OMG, that back waist/hip/butt thing? SO have that. Will be interested to see what you do. I’ve started doing full but adjustments and have, sigh, found that they’re often not enough. Current mental iteration is to trace off a smaller size at the center back waist and grade out to a size larger at the center back butt, also do a slash-and-spread full but adjustment, and see what that gets me. And since I don’t really have hips, I’ll probably grade down a size at the hips (side seam). I dunno. That might just be a hot mess. I’ll just go work on my quilt instead! LOL. Anyhow, I also appreciate that you share your measurements, because I think that comparing numbers to sizes and adjustments is what really helps us figure out what we need to adjust, and how much.

    People IRL are always flabbergasted that I make clothing, and I try to explain the secret weapon that is the blogosphere, but it’s hard to understand unless you dig in and see posts like these. So, thanks :-). And! Here’s to a great rest of 2015!!

    1. I’ll admit that my efforts around fitting really got kicked off when I realized I wasn’t sewing anything with sleeves and I was COLD in the winter! According to Fit For Real People, broad shoulders are different than a broad back – I think the back is what happens below the armpits, for fitting purposes?

      What you’re describing for the back waist hip butt thing sounds perfectly logical to me… but then again, I haven’t tried yet! I’m still avoiding all new patterns that are fitted below the waist. Next year!

  16. It’s so interesting to hear about others’ fit journeys, thanks! I had a revelation a couple of months ago – I need a low bust adjustment. There’s not a lot of info out there regarding this figuration at first glance, but it sure explains why some patterns were really riding up at the front, even though the bust circumference and general shape seemed to work. I honestly thought I knew my figure pretty well, but this was a total game changer! I’m actually excited to put my newfound knowledge into practice.

    1. That’s so cool! This is total speculation, but I feel like the adjustments having to do with length between different body landmarks aren’t well-documented. And it IS exciting when you finally find an underlying cause of fit problems. Before I figured out the square shoulder adjustment, I was always trying ways to compensate for it – lowering bust points, scooping out arm scyes, etc.

      1. This x100. It drives me a little crazy how poorly documented the horizontal lines on some patterns are — the big guys do this well, but many of the independents don’t. I feel like it would be much, much simpler to begin understanding fit adjustments with well documented bust, hip and waist lines.

  17. Next year is meant to be my year of fitting – I know I have a broad upper back, but I’m sure there will be some other revelations along the way. I am curious to know which resources you’ve used? It’s funny how we don’t really notice that certain people have square shoulders or long torso etc in our day-to-day but when you look at measurement comparisons it seems like it would be obvious.

    1. Hi Naomi! I’ve picked up bits and pieces from different blogs, but Fit For Real People was a huge eye-opener for me. I don’t use all of their techniques – I haven’t gotten into tissue-fitting, for example – but the book is laid out well and addresses fit issues in every area of the body. I also use Helen Joseph-Armstrong’s drafting manual Patternmaking for Fashion for my slopers; she has a list of measurements that you take to make a personal block as well as standard size measurements. Comparing my measurements to the standards has shown me areas I’m most likely to have fit issues.

  18. So interesting! Aah we all have our own body quirks don’t we? My big fit epiphany this year has been realising I desperately need a forward shoulder adjustment in all my kimono-style tops and tees. It makes such a difference. I was always wondered why some necklines seemed too high and choked me and I think it’s because tops like that dragged backwards! Amazing! Next year I’d love to do a pants sloper class – my holy grail!

    1. We certainly do! What kinds of classes are you looking at for a pants sloper? I’d love to try one myself, especially since it’s so difficult to fit one’s own backside.

  19. So interesting reading about your fitting techniques. I think fitting is a big part of sewing for yourself as it allows you to make clothes for your own body but sometimes it can be so damn tiresome! That’s why I think pattern making companies that are consistent are the best and that’s why I don’t really get it when I read some rant complaining that there are too many pattern designers. anyway thumbs up for putting measurements out! I’ve always did it … it’s simply a technical detail – a useful one! Saying you cut a size 14 doesn’t really mean anything without a reference measurement.

    1. I actually wish there were more pattern designers that sold patterns for specific figure types. I suppose that would get very complex very quickly! But I certainly feel lucky that at least McCall’s patterns seem to run wide through the shoulders. I think I can also safely look for vintage patterns requiring shoulder pads, too!

  20. I have learned more about my body through sewing. I bought some McCalls and Vogue fitting shells, dress and trousers respectively. I haven’t tried the dress fitting shell but found I have needed more width in the shoulders in other garments. I did, however, make what felt like a serious attempt at the trousers. I ended up confusing myself primarily in the ‘crotch curve challenge’. From that experience I do know that I am full in the butt and from the side I have what I think is a full tummy (I think you described it as ‘Kardashian shaped’). I think I dove into the fitting shell too early and the distribution of fullness in relation to crotch curve and crotch length is something I’ll have to keep studying.
    I also enjoy reading measurements and adjustment details (with my Convert Units app handy 😉

    1. I keep thinking I should make the switch to metrics some day! Sigh. 🙂

      I find pants fitting pretty mysterious, too. I have a block of sorts that I based off a pair of Burda pleated pants I fitted when I didn’t know much about fitting! I keep making more variations on it, but I think the foundation is a bit shaky. I didn’t realize there was a pants-fitting shell, as I’ve only seen the dresses. The shells really do seem like a great tool, especially within a pattern company that stays consistent with their blocks. If you revisit it, I’d love to hear more about it!

  21. We’re more similar in build than I had thought. I’m roughly 33-28-38, but I don’t have your height – I’m 5’2″.

    My shoulders would probably be considered square. (I’ve only attempted shoulder adjustments on one pattern (Jalie 2805 T-shirt) and I didn’t need to adjust the slope, but I think that’s because Jalie is a bit square, not because I’m standard.) My shoulders are definitely wide – I extended the shoulder seam by 5/8″ on front and back.

    My bottom half is similar too. My back waist is smaller than my front waist, but my back hip is larger than my front hip. The fullness is in my bottom, not my hips. So yeah, I’m somewhat rectangular from the front too. And the pooling fabric at the low back, ugh. For me, some of this at least is due to good posture (which I’ve heard rather pejoratively described as “hyper-erect”). I can (momentarily) align myself with a standard pattern by adopting a wicked slouch!

    My waist is definitely not horizontal – the front is 1″ lower than the back.

    1. Yay, I think there are about 4 of us with this quirky figure 🙂

      I’m trying desperately to correct a lifetime of slouching! As my posture gets better, I notice even more excess fabric through the back. How do you correct for your good posture?

      1. I haven’t quite solved this problem yet, but here’s what I’ve got so far:

        I added a centre back seam. I folded out the excess at waist level, taking out 1″(!) at CB, tapering to nothing at the side (and add 1″ to the hem at CB). The effect was to more or less straighten the side seam and put all the curve into the new CB seam. Which makes sense, because most of my curve is at the back not the sides. (The T-shirt pattern is meant to be fitted.)

        It’s still not quite right. I’ve got a little excess width showing up at the side seams at waist level, which I think should be taken out of the back piece. (This might have something to do with my tilted waistline and/or having created a little extra width in the back piece when I folded out the excess length.)

        Considering this is just a T-shirt, I’m probably over-fitting, but I think it’s helping me understand my idiosyncratic fit issues, at least. With a less fitted top, less finesse would be required.

        Hope this helps!

  22. You’re definitely in a place that I’d like to be in a year or so. Right now I’m just trying to figure out what my personal style is and then sewing things that I love to wear. Through my sewing I’m definitely becoming more aware of and fussy about fit, both with my me-made garments and RTW.

    1. For what it’s worth, I think the fit you’re getting looks good! Especially the pants you’ve been making – I’m envious! But nailing style first is an awesome approach, I think – you can spend your fitting efforts on designs you love!

  23. Getting the button-up shirt fit right is such a major accomplishment. Congrats!

    Bodies are weird. It’s one way I think the move to RTW clothes disserviced us–we stopped thinking of ourselves as people with individual bodies that clothes should fit, and started thinking of ourselves as people whose bodies fit into one of three categories: S, M, L. And then if our bodies don’t fit into one of those three boxes, there’s something ‘wrong’ with us. No wonder we all end up with issues!

    1. Thanks! I was sewing it in double gauze and part way through the top-stitching, I thought of your beautiful Nani Iro shirt. I think hand-stitching double-gauze makes loads of sense now in addition to being pretty. It’s a squirrely textile.

      I truly believe that every sort of body can feel/look good in well-fitted clothing. I used to cram my shoulders into small or medium button-downs and feel sliced through the armpits all day long. I am seeing more semi-custom clothing options pop up. I’m hoping technology like body-scanning and new production methods will help normalize individual fit again – since it doesn’t seem likely everybody will start sewing their own clothing.

  24. You might benefit from MimiG’s tutorial on making your own mannequin. There is also a blog called “making it well”, and that woman has made a dummy for fitting purposes too.
    Sounds as though a double would help a lot.

  25. Oh wow, we have the same shoulders and I’m so pleased you have reinforced that armhole depth thing. Its absolutely true for me, I add about .5-1cm between the shoulder tip and the underarm, which does also lower the bust point. Makes sense since if I’m longer in the armscye my apex will be further from the shoulder too – and there was me thinking I just had old lady saggy boobs post breastfeeding!! Whoops. was that body negative?! Fitting epiphanies abound in this post, thanks for sharing we can all relate I’m sure.

  26. Ok, this is fascinating! I definitely know some of my fitting quirks but I am impressed with how much you have figured out. And reading your explanation of a square shoulder is great. I’m going to try that next time I sew something woven with sleeves instead of my usual broad back alteration. I am pear shaped with broad shoulders as well but our shapes are markedly different. Very interesting!!

    1. I thought I had a broad back for the longest time! But I’ll admit that I was confused about broad shoulders vs. a broad back. Now I’m pretty sure it was my square shoulders pulling up the arm scye and the bust, so the waist would be creeping up towards the back/bust. I’ll be curious to hear how playing with your adjustments works for you.

  27. Now you’ve got my brain cranking! I’ve never measured across my shoulders! But I always have a problem with shoulder fit. Off to find my measuring tape and an assistant! And your skirt! My mind is blown! Bodies are SO fascinating in all of their shapes. I’m on the measurements are just numbers to help you achieve better fit side of things – now. I used to hate measuring myself (when I was skinnier, go figure). Now, I’ll tell anyone, especially if it’ll help them get more comfortable with their own numbers and figure out how something would fit them versus me.

    1. It’s quite a bit harder to find a pattern’s information on shoulder fit, so it makes sense we wouldn’t know our shoulder measurements! Style Arc and Marfy are the only brands I’ve seen include that information in their size charts. Even with variation in design and ease, it would be nice to at least know where the brand started from. Enjoy your shoulder fit journey!

  28. You cracked some very tough nuts this year! And I know these were things that had been simmering in your mind for a while, which probably made it all the more satisfying to find some solutions. May 2016 bring you even more fitting fixes!

    1. Thanks, Gail! Nice to finally have some breakthroughs and be able to sew myself some sleeved garments. I think 2016 will be the year of fitting the boo-tay. 😉

  29. This makes for fascinating reading as although I’m taller and my measurements are bigger, pretty much all your fitting adjustments are the same as mine and I’ve only come to realise them over the past year. I have broad, square shoulders, a relatively small bust, a huge curve to my lower back but a smallish waist back there and always need a full butt adjustment whilst being much smaller across the front. I will be copying every alteration you make as my fitting journey continues! I wrote a post a while back about an epiphany I had when making the hemlock tee. It is tiny on me. I’m not a small person so of course that would be the case. It finally made me realise sizes are not the way to view your figure. And in the spirit of that my measurements are 35, 30, 40 and I’m 6′ tall. Great post

    1. I’ve always dreamed of having a fit buddy! We do seem quite similar in shape and size (aside from me missing 4″ in height, most likely in the legs!) I’m going to scour your blog again with an eye for the patterns / alterations that worked well for you.

  30. I also find using a sloper to check fit on new patterns so confusing – particularly on pants and I struggle to work out what I need to do in relation to design ease as well.

  31. Thank you so much for this post! My measurements and fit issues are the same, and I never knew how to adjust for my square shoulders until now. I know posting measurements online may be scary, but it was super helpful for me. I’m the shorter version of you at 5’4″ with the same bust, waist, and hip. Thanks!

  32. It is completely normal to have a larger front waist than back waist, and wider back hip than front hip. We have stomachs and bums in those places! It’s kind of a wonder that anyone ever makes a pencil skirt in a woven non-stretch given the 3-dimensional challenges. Anyway, good for you for taking an in-depth look at your personal fit/shape. It can only help make fitting easier!

    1. Thanks, Grace! And I totally agree about stomachs and bums 🙂 I just meant that there was a bigger difference in my measurements than the standard sizes in my drafting book (if that makes sense.)

  33. Very eloquently put. I have also learned a lot about my own fit ‘issues’ this year. It’s always great when other people share their own journeys so we can learn from each other and realize that patterns are just a starting point and putting time into fitting is so rewarding even after putting in so much time. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Joanne! My revelations were definitely helped along by many other bloggers talking about fit. It’s funny to think back on a time when I would read someone else’s pattern review and assume I needed to make the same ones!

  34. I’m so impressed with your fitting journey. It’s such a tough thing to work through as every small alteration seems to have a knock-on effect elsewhere. (Re your lower half, have you ever tried a swayback alteration?). And I think there is definitely something in viewing your figure as a whole set of measurements, rather than as one number that represents one size, probably because it’s much more individual and demonstrates the variation, even between people who are the same size on paper.

  35. Wow Morgan – you know your body well! I think it’s really hard to get every body to fit into some sort of shape category. We’re all different so why try to make us fit into a small number of groups (hourglass, triangle, straight, etc). Personally, I always struggle with fitting my bust and shoulders, and my tummy. Even though there are less than 2 inches difference between my high bust and my full bust, I always seem to get a better fit with an FBA, and I am really struggling to figure out what my actual cup size is. When I was fit for a bra at a proper lingerie store, they told me I was a D cup, but when I do the math and measurements I have read about, I am a B cup. What?!? I don’t get it. Anyway, I’m hoping this year brings more revelations for me, and the good thing is that I’m finding this journey toward the “perfect” fit really fun! Thanks for sharing!

    1. You had an astounding year for fit! Jeans, button-downs… just awesome. It does always seem like there’s more to do, though, doesn’t it? Re: cup size, it may make you feel better to hear I’ve been measured at and wear a B, but the systems that compare full and high bust place me at an AA because there is 0 difference between my measurements. In my case, I’m pretty sure it’s ribcage widening quickly to meet my shoulders. Sounds like you’ve already got an interesting fit question for 2016!

  36. Aaah, the search for the perfect fit! I think it’s like the never ending quest actually; what’s more the details change with passing fashion trends as ease or lack of becomes the “new look” in a season. I used to fiddle with fit like a fiend and still go through that for new pattern companies. For the tried and true, I’ve fine-tuned my own personal requirements down so that nowadays it feels a lot more automatic, but you’re absolutely right, a good fit is never a foregone conclusion 🙂

    1. Whatever you’ve been doing, it’s working! Your projects always seem to fit you beautifully. But I’m with you on fit being a never-ending quest. I had to learn a lot in order to even see my own fit issues.

  37. First of all, I love your blog and have enjoyed following your sewing journey…You have come a long way!
    Anyway, I was wondering if you have heard of The site details the manufacture of clothing but is full of tutorials and its just a great site, full of useful information. I was just reading a tutorial about making a very personal pattern block using pallet wrap (or saran but pallet wrap is stronger). There are detailed instructions for applying the wrap and where to mark and how to cut it off your body, but you might enjoy trying this technique. And there are many keys to many vaults in this site. I have been sewing for 50 years. 🙂

    1. Hi Donna! Thanks for reading along. Man, 50 years of sewing – that’s so cool! I’ve read a few Fashion Incubator articles and always come away with something new to think about! Is the pallet wrap block tutorial visible to the general public? I do have a personal bodice block created the old-fashioned way, that I should really use more! I’ve been very slow to make a sleeve sloper.

  38. What a great post! You’ve made some great discoveries this year, and wow, you have such a thorough knowledge now of your fit needs that it will be so much easier to get a better fit going forward! I’m excited to see what you do in 2016!

    1. Thanks, Sonja! It feels really nice to be making progress. I think my fit focus for 2016 will be (drumroll, please!) my own backside. I’m just starting to get a handle on what’s happening back there!

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