Having a dress form or a willing family member or friend help you make fitting adjustments by yourself is ideal. But all hope is not lost if you find yourself without those resources. Occasionally, my husband has helped me make a few minor fitting tweaks while he has one eyeball on me and another eyeball on ESPN. He even gifted a dress form to me, which I’ve padded out with the Fabulous Fit system (more on that later).
But nothing really compares using your own body (or your Client) as your fitting form because that’s who will be wearing the clothes! I have to make fitting adjustments to all of my garments to accommodate my 5’9″ height. For instance, pants that are intended to be ankle length in a size 12 pattern require me to add 4.5-5 inches to accommodate my long legs. I also have to add 1 inch, usually, to most bodices. I stopped wasting time and fabric a long time ago by investing the time to getting my pattern pieces fit right before I start slicing my beautiful fabrics.
I mean, why spend your time and money pouring into constructing a garment out of beautiful fabric without making fitting adjustments! To me, that completely defeats the purpose of sewing your own clothes! You may as well just buy off the rack!
Invest the time to get your fit right and you’ll enjoy the beauty of sewing and creating that much more. Wear your clothes, don’t let them wear you!
I’ve found myself several times making fitting adjustments by myself in the mirror and I’ve picked up some tricks that I’d like to share. Keep in mind, my methods are a combination of many methods I’ve studied with a dash of common sense. Anything I share on Style Sew Me will be what works for me and I hope that it helps give you inspiration.
Flat Pattern Measuring
Flat pattern measuring is the technique used where you measure yourself, measure the pattern and add or subtract the difference. It’s the technique mastered by Joi Mahon whose classes I took on Craftsy. Find Joi Mahon’s classes here.
This technique allows you to make a myriad of fitting adjustments by yourself because it happens all before cutting or sewing any fabric. I love this technique because it really saves a lot of time and you can knock those really obvious pattern adjustments out of the way. Using some of her techniques, I’ve been able to get about 90% of my fitting done before I ever cut my fabric.
It can be as simple as slashing and spreading at the shorten/lengthen line, but every body is different.
This technique doesn’t eliminate the need for fabric fittings or muslins, but it greatly reduces the amount of pinning, pinching, and sewing of muslins. I definitely love incoporating this technique into my fitting shenanigans.
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Muslins are the most common ways of working on fitting adjustments by yourself. But, geez I hate sewing a muslin! I already know it’s not going to fit me straight out the envelope, so why do I need to trace the pattern, cut the muslin, sew the muslin and try it out just to find out something I already know?
Yes, a muslin, test garment, or toille is a necessary evil, but I try to limit my muslin shenanigans to an absolute necessity.
Yes, they have their place and this is when I lean towards using them. If I’m working with a pattern that’s a bit more complicated or has many pieces, I just go ahead and sew a muslin. This way, I can mark up my muslin and transfer those markings back to my pattern pieces for a more workable garment and I haven’t just wasted my fashion fabric on an ill-fitting mess.
Tissue fitting is also another popular way of fitting. It may be a bit more cumbersome when doing fitting adjustments by yourself when tissue fitting, but it’s not impossible. I’d definitely recommend a full-length mirror for this method.
Tissue fitting doesn’t duplicate the drape of the fabric, so that’s always something to keep in mind. My main goal is to make sure my width and length is sufficient for the pattern pieces.
Final Fashion Fabric Fitting
Can you say that fast five times? Haha! Of course, no matter how many times you tweak your pattern pieces and muslin, you’ll still need to make a few fitting adjustments to your final fashion fabric. The only exception would be if you muslin used the same fabric as your fashion fabric.
Usually, we tend to use a less expensive fabric as a muslin that is similar in content to our fashion fabric – or at least that’s the goal. Your muslin may not behave exactly like your fashion fabric, so it’s important to try on your final garment and give yourself another once-over to make some final adjustments – depending on how particular you are about it.
Yes! Fitting adjustments are definitely achievable when you’re by yourself and don’t have a dress form.
Like I mentioned before, don’t be bound to one method or another, piece together different techniques to find what works best for you!
What are your favorite methods of performing fitting adjustments on yourself? Let’s share to give and get inspiration!