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Forum > Fitting Woes > Fitting Tiny Shoulders and a Narrow back ( Moderated by CarolynGM, Deepika)

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Fitting Tiny Shoulders and a Narrow back
fitting large size disparities between back and front
doompancakes
doompancakes
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Date: 11/19/11 5:18 PM

Would it be totally crazy to cut a back bodice several sizes smaller then the front? Or to petite both front and back above the bust, do an FBA (to add length to front bust, and lower bust point), and then petite the rest of the back?

I tend to get massive amounts of shifting and puddling at the upper and midback in tops and dresses, and even in tshirts. I'm going to make a fitting shell so that I can use it to adjust other patterns more easily, but am at a bit of a loss about where to start. I've got a burda bodice shell, and the Butterick dress fitting shell to work with. The idea of doing a petite adjustment seems crazy to me, because I'm between 5'8" and 5'9" (I've heard both recently), but some of my measurements suggest I need one, at least in the back.

My full bust measurement is 39", with a high bust of 36" and an underbust of 31.5. When measured across the back (top of armpit to top of armpit), my back width at its widest is 13". My back waist length is 13.5", and my front waist length is 18.5".

Based on my full bust only I should be making a burda size 44, and a composite of high bust, front waist length and bust depth would suggest a 40 or 42. My back width would be a burda 17, which is the smallest womens petite size, and my shoulders each have just a little less then 3.5" of hanger space on each side, which is smaller then any of the shoulder measurements I've seen listed. My ribcage is shaped like a sub sandwich, flat on the bottom (back), and slightly rounded on the sides and top (front).

I feel at a loss for where to start adjusting. Would starting with a petite and adjusting out to fit the rest of me help? Is that crazy? Should I just learn to deal with the puddling?

Nancy K
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Nancy K
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In reply to doompancakes


Date: 11/19/11 6:05 PM

You should be using your upper bust size for your upper body and making an fba. You will not get a good fit if you try to fit your bust by using a larger size eve if it's only in the front. The upper chest and armholes will not fit well and will gap. I suspect that you have an erect back. This needs both a length and a width reduction. The length is shortened at the upper back at the center back by making a tuck that disappears to nothing at the seamline. The point it hits your seam at the armhole is your pivot point. You need to take a small clip so that the back will lay flat. then you need to make a narrow back adjustment.
Since you are only shortening it along the cb and not shortening the side seam it will fit the front. The front shoulder may have to be eased into the back shoulder. But if you have narrow shoulders as well you may not have much to ease.

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LauraTS
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LauraTS
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Date: 11/20/11 3:31 PM

I agree that an FBA will solve some of your issue, and if you're not already doing one it will help a lot. However, you may still find that your shoulders and back are still smaller than the size you use based on your high bust (which is usually the recommended size to start with before your FBA). If so, you can then do a narrow shoulder alteration and/or a narrow upper back alteration as well.

I tend to make casual and knit tops most of the time, and I do a 'cheater' FBA where I start with a smaller size in the shoulders and then go out as I go down the bodice. In addition, I usually take an inch or so out of the back neckline because I tend to get gaping there otherwise. Officially I should be doing an FBA and a narrow shoulders alteration but it seems to work for me for these less formal styles.

The Big 4 seem to have broad shoulders, but some of the indie pattern lines are closer to the pear shape - I've heard Style Arc is pretty good in this regard, and I've had good luck with both Pamela's Patterns and Knipmode.

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Ms. Bijou
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Date: 11/20/11 4:06 PM

I have tiny narrow shoulders. I have to start with a smaller size and adjust it from there. The fit is GREAT if I do it this way. I cannot work "backwards" and get the arms/shoulders to fit. I use the pivot and slide technique from Nancy Zieman's book about adjusting fit. it works perfectly for me. I don't need to do the FBA though because there is no cause for it :).

solosmocker
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solosmocker
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Date: 11/22/11 10:19 AM

I have this exact issue. I use Nancy Zieman's method for buying my patterns by the upper bust front measurement, doing an FBA, and then taking width and length out of the back. Sound like a lot but at this point I have done it so many times it doesn't take much thought or time. For any fabric of value or pattern requiring a lot of work I make a muslin first to be sure. A shoulder princess seamed garment is my best friend giving the perfect places to make adjustments. If you can get one of those to fit it can be used to make blouses, jackets, etc.

You can find Nancy Zieman's Fitting books easily. They are easy to use and I never had success with my fit until I learned her method. Good luck.

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Silknmore
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Silknmore  Friend of PR
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Date: 11/29/11 8:40 AM

Solosmocker,
Could you describe how you remove from the back? That is, where do you make the adjustments on your pattern.

Thank you,
Annette

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KathySews
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KathySews  Friend of PR
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Date: 11/29/11 9:04 AM

If you have a sewing buddy, you can try making a quick body mold of your upper body. Wrap your upper body with saran wrap several times. Use a magic marker to mark center back, center front, bust, etc. Cut up back or both sides to take off. It will not be perfect, but you can use that to compare to patterns. Make sense? The biggest trick is finding a partner.

solosmocker
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In reply to Silknmore


Date: 11/29/11 8:50 PM

I get my husband to take a pic of me in my muslin from the back. I can then see the wrinkles. Usually that leads me to do a "swayback" alteration, taking out a wedge from the CB waist that tapers to nothing at the side seams. The folded wedge has about 1 1/2 inches of fabric at the CB and as I said, tapers to nothing at the sides. For most jackets/blouses I do what a tailor taught me many years ago, simply stitching the back armhole seam 1/8 to 1/4 inch deeper starting about an inch from the shoulder seam in the back, curving out to the 1/4 inch, and then curving back to normal about an inch short of the underarm seam. 95% of the time this is enough. On the rare occasions I need to take out more, I cut a block out of the armscye shoulder area and slide it in toward the center back, then true the seams.
-- Edited on 11/29/11 8:50 PM --

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