I don’t know about you, but when I take the time to sew an outfit for myself I want a perfect fit. I also want it to be comfortable. This applies whether I buy a commercial plus size sewing pattern or make my own. I’m sure you feel the same way.
That’s why I was frustrated a few years ago when I made a top from my own plus size sewing pattern, tried it on and the thing didn’t fit. Not only was it uncomfortable, but it had diagonal wrinkles across the back that did not come from the lack of pressing. I altered the pattern so much, I butchered it and had to start over.
Where did these diagonal wrinkles come from and why can’t I get rid of them, ugh?!
Well, I want you to avoid this frustration by telling you what I did not know at the time – my pattern was not balanced.
How do you balance a pattern? That’s what I asked, especially since I had never been taught this in any of my patternmaking classes. And no, I don’t mean putting a stack of patterns on your head and sitting very straight to correct your posture or meditate.
In the video below, I tell you what balance means when applied to your plus size sewing pattern and how to check your pattern for balance. Also, if your pattern is unbalanced, I show you how to fix it.
So go ahead, check the balance of your patterns and tell me what you find.
Thank you for your videos. They are excellent. I noticed that after you balance your front and back bodice, and center front and center back are parallel to each other, what is the measurement distance between center front and center back. On my Vogue blouse pattern, the distance is 1/4 inch. Is this a problem?
That’s not a problem at all. I’ve had a difference of an inch or a little more. So you’re fine.
Thank you Katrina for your prompt reply.
You’re very welcome. That was a really good question so I’m glad you asked it.
Angela Coyne says
How do you balance a bodice with a side seam dart? Do you just close the dart to the apex? On paper it is not flat and hard to see if the grainlines are parallel. Thank you!
Great question, Angela. I move the dart to, for example, the shoulder, do the balancing and then move the dart back to the side seam. That way your piece will still lay flat.
You can trace your pattern piece if you don’t want to do this to your original piece.
You’re basically moving the dart out of the way so you can do the balancing.
Angela Coyne says
Thank you! That worked perfectly!
You’re welcome. So glad to hear that!
Michelle Guadarrama says
Thank you for the balancing video! I just hate it when the side seams don’t match up!
I am shaped like an A-frame so my big problem is getting the shoulders to fit. My hips are very large and shoulders narrow, so hard to fit! I’d love some help with that! Thanks!
Hi Michelle, have you tried plus size patterns from http://www.fashionpatterns.com/? The reasons I suggests her patterns are: 1. they are made for the plus size women’s body and 2. she has size 1X to 6X. This gives you a lot of room to adjust your pattern for a smaller or larger size.
Also, two of my blog posts that may help you:
For your shoulders: https://katrinakaycreations.com/?p=1571
This post & video deal with your shoulder slope, but it also shows you how to adjust your armhole to accommodate any changes you make to your shoulders.
For pattern adjustments: https://katrinakaycreations.com/?p=1670
This post & video show you how to calculate the wearing ease in your pattern so you know exactly how much you need to add or subtract to get the correct fit.
I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.
Kerrie Lawrence says
Thanks for taking the time to post your tutorials – I have a question on armhole balance. I also use PMB and and am having trouble with shoulders falling backwards off my shoulders so am about to try raising the back neckline and moving both the neck and shoulder points forwards 3/4″ – but this of course creates a much longer back armhole length than the front. I can try and add a bit more inward curve to the front armhole to create a bit more length but the difference is still between 1.1 and 1.5″ depending on how much front curve I add – so how do you keep armhole balance with a forward shoulder adjustment? Thank you again, Kerrie
Have you tried decreasing the curve of the back armhole also? One and a half inches is quite a bit, but if your back armhole ends up being 3/4″ -1″ larger than your front armhole and your sleeve fits properly (if your pattern has sleeves), I would try a test garment to see the overall fit. If the overall fit is good, I would leave it as it is and here’s why.
Many of the patternmaking “rules” are for smaller sizes and dress forms under the assumption that they are perfectly proportioned. We know that real bodies are not perfectly proportioned. So some of the “rules” have to be adjusted to our unique body types. And that’s okay.
I hope this helps. If it doesn’t I would be glad to troubleshoot with you. And if I think of anything else, I will definitely let you know.
Kerrie Lawrence says
Thanks Kathleen – I’ve just printed out a pattern to test and I’ll let you know how that goes. I might also manually add a high round back adjustment to get the back neck up to where it needs to sit (If I just add a longer centre back length I end up with huge armholes)
Also on balancing patterns, with PMB my front neck width always measures approx .25″ wider (on half a pattern) than my back neck width – but I’m pretty sure the back neck should be larger than the front neck width – does this happen to you?
Kerrie Lawrence says
Sorry – meant Katrina!
To be honest, Kerrie, I’ve never compared the two. I’ve only gone by the way they fit because my front neck tends to gap. I’ll have to compare the two.
Oh, no problem about the name.
I love it!! give me more, more!! I’m so glad I found your site. Can you do one on trueing patterns and maybe different collars?
Welcome to my site, Dahnyelle! I will definitely add collars and how to true patterns to my to-do list. Thank you so much for the suggestions. I really appreciate them.
Thanks, that’s so helpful!
You’re welcome, Diana.