The Ultimate Guide to Garment Alterations

Posted on February 27, 2020 by Stephanie Triplett

Every body is its own unique shape and size. The beauty of sewing is that you don’t have to conform to standard sizing and fit models. If you find yourself in a fitting bind when creating your garments, following patterns, and finding the perfect fit for your body right off the rack then there’s great news for you- you’re not alone and this post was made with you in mind. Here’s an ultimate guide for alterations: targeting common problems, what they look like, and how to correct them. Grab your sewing supplies, measuring tools, and pattern paper so that we can get started! 

Terms to Know:

Set: a smooth fit of garments free from wrinkles and draglines 

  • Draglines often occur when a garment does not fit properly. 

Draglines: an issue that indicates that there’s not enough fabric in the area where the fabric is being pulled too tightly

Preventative Tips:

  • Note that RTW (ready to wear) clothing and sewing patterns do not follow the same sizing charts. Commercial patterns are typically bigger than RTW sizes, so be sure to double check your measurements. 
  • When choosing a pattern size: if you’re between sizes choose the larger size; it’s easier to take in then to add.
  • Learn what good fit looks like (refer to our fit guide!)
  • Pin pattern pieces accordingly and try them on so adjustments can be made from there
  • Make a prototype from muslin!!!
  • Take the following measurements, keeping ease in mind:

NOTE: After each adjustment is made, the area must be trued and blended (we recommend a french curve for the best results).

Common Alterations for Blouses:

Top Too Tight at Chest 

Problem: Drags appear at chest level

Solution: Widen side where side seam and the lower armhole meet

Armhole Drop is too High

Problem: Drag appears from under the arms

Solution: Extend the armscye drop accordingly, starting from the bottom of the armhole to about midway through

Armhole Scoop too Shallow

Problem: Drags appear from lower armholes 

Solution: Leave each corner of armhole as is and deepen the armscye scoop

Neck Drop is too High

Problem: Neckline is too high or not wide enough

Solution: Widen the length of the neckline and/or make a deeper neckline scoop

Blouse Bottom is too Wide

Problem: The blouse is protruding from the body at hips

Solution: Bring in side-seam at the hip area

Common Alterations for Bottoms:

Bunching at Crotch

Problem: Bottoms are too loose around the crotch area

Solution: Deepen Inseam and gradually take in the upper portion of the outseam

Back rise is too Long or Short

Problem: Waistband is being pulled down at back or there is bunching from the backside.

Solution: Create an adjustment line perpendicular to the grainline, slide the cut piece accordingly, attach pattern pieces with tape then redraw lines as needed

Bunching at the Back

Problem: Back rise is too shallow

Solution: The inseam at back needs to be scooped out in order to allow the seam to sit properly at its back

The waistband is folding, marks appear around hips, or you can't sit comfortably in your bottoms

Problem: waist of bottoms is too tight

Solution: Increase waist at the side seam and readjust rise depth as needed, allowing the pant can drop down. 

Clothing alterations are something that we all need from time to time but seldom want to bother with or sometimes you’re not even sure where to start unless it’s a simple one like hemming the length of pants, so this guide is for you. A one-stop-shop for the most common fit issues and how to alter them to fit your body in a way that makes you most confident. Pick out your fabric and get started on your next project knowing exactly how to alter your pattern pieces to achieve that perfect fit!

The Ultimate Guide to Garment Alterations - Mood Sewciety
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