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There is nothing worse than putting time and energy into a garment and then while trying it on, finding out it doesnt fit. This is enough to make you give up and throw it away. Many adjustments can be made on the pattern itself and most sewing books touch on this subject. But even after carefully altering the pattern, you still will want to try on the garment for any last minute adjustments.
There are various areas to be aware of when fitting. Look at the shoulder seam, a smooth fit over the bust, the underarm area, the way sleeves hang, the waistband, pleats and gathers should hang straight; at the abdomen or hip area there shouldnt be any bagging, and the hem should be straight all the way around. Just before you finish the garment, try it on again and check for comfort. Be sure to try your garment on right sides out. Our bodies are not always even on both sides (a rather depressing thought, but true).
This column will discuss fitting shoulders. If you have broad shoulders and the material pulls across the front or back, add at least 1/2 inch to the shoulder seamline. If you have narrow shoulders, take out any excess at the shoulder seam. If you have sloping shoulders and the wrinkles start at the neck and lead into the armhole, pin out the excess at the shoulder seam (see illustration). But in doing this, dont forget to lower the armhole seam by the same amount.
Square shoulders will cause the garment to pull across the top from shoulder to shoulder. Pin excess out from the neck edge and taper back into the regular seam at the shoulder. All these adjustments can be made on the pattern before you even cut it out. If you already are aware of your problem areas, take care of it first, then cut. Then the garment will be as fit as a fiddle (no strings attached!)
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