When we think of fitting our bottoms for sewing, maybe we always think pants are the challenge. Having fit my apple bottom, now more fiddle shaped lower half, I can tell you fitting your bum isn’t just limited to pants.
I’ve had rising skirt hems, tops that sit on my hip/ butt shelf, strained wrinkles and more. I’ve tackled them through a series of resources, a few of which I’d like to point out here.
Let me start by saying I, Renee, am a book user. I like to see line drawings and compare notes. Turning a page or using my finger to read lines of copy helps me learn best. So I won’t be including any video links here, but will note some free or low cost options for ya. This is by no means exhaustive, just some things I’ve found helpful over the years of teaching and personal fit.
First Up, General Fitting Resources:
I’m starting with the priciest, most exhaustive book on fitting a body I know. The “Liechty” book is Fitting and Pattern Alteration: A Multi-Method Approach to the Art of Style Selection, Fitting, and Alteration. This pricey textbook covers every kind of derriere alteration you can imagine from dropped, round, flat, wide and anything in between. Pro Tip: Older copies can be had for far less than a 2015 third edition.
I may go hoarse for all the times I recommend this book. It’s not specific to bottoms, but is what I like to call a “starter fit book”. Singer’s The Perfect Fit just gives you one to two options for making any alteration suggested. For tushies, they cover some pants and skirt fitting, but also talk how much ease you’ll want for your butt, ways to alter a one size pattern to fit you best when grading isn’t an option and addresses the most common of fit concerns. The photos are dated but sharp with their 80s technicolor glory.
The Great Swayback
A swayback is a fairly common alteration within the sewing community. Depending on who you ask, it has to do some with your keister. Is it the to hem of your top hanging up on your bum? Or too much length at center back? Just as there is more than one way to view a swayback, there is more than one way to fix it.
I’ve always appreciated this deep dive from blogger and patternmaker Pattern, Scissors, Cloth in testing theories behind a swayback adjustments.
Maybe it’s a swayback? Maybe it’s not? Maybe you’re doing it all wrong? This look at other ways to address that upper posterior gapping from sbccpatterns.com .
We’re entering the specific world of pants here with this flat seat adjustment by the original Queen Sewing Bee and season one winner of the Great British Sewing Bee Ann Rowley. I’ll be honest, I’d dealt with my full seat for so long it hadn’t occurred to me that not everyone is packing in the back until I spotted this minimally worded tutorial from Ms. Ann herself. This Flickr album highlight how she makes a flat seat adjustment.
Just take me to the PANTS:
And now we take you to some excellent pants fitting resources free to you online.
Closet Core Patterns’ free pants fitting guide has a lot to offer. A checklist of changes and alterations plus a great start on learning terminology for fitting your bum bum. (great for learning some terminology)
I’m also a big fan of this brand agnostic, bad mamba jamba pants fitting resource from the Curvy Sewing Collective.
I hope that’s some guidance to enter the world of fitting your shining asset!
Renee Samuels still blogs from Baltimore, Maryland, USA at MissCeliesPants.com because she is old and posts more regularly on Instagram as @MissCeliesPants.
I recommend an outstanding video series on YouTube by Karina on her channel Lifting Pins and Needles. It is her Sew Easy Pants series. She uses excellent visuals and includes showing pant fitting issues on her own body. Her teaching style is very clear and thorough. Many lightbulb moments for a slightly more experienced stitcher.
Thanks for this vlog! When I went to her page I realized I already love her on facebook but didn’t know about her channel. Thank you for sharing!
Thanks so much for these resources! I was just participating in a Facebook group (which, talk about feeling like something the Olds do, my blogging friend), talking about books on fitting. So let me chime in with a few resources I like since I just looked them up yesterday:
Nancy Zieman’s Fitting Finesse has some great advice on pants fitting and it’s easy to implement.
Patty Palmer’s Real Fit for Real People (and some of her other books) is really good for conceptualizing fit issues overall, even though I don’t always find the actual order of operations to be easy to adapt and I don’t use their paper pattern fitting method.
Sarah Veblen’s Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting is especially good on tops and dresses.
When looking at older fitting guides or sewing books in general, I am so struck by the characterization of fitting “problems” that stem from figure “flaws” that need “disguising” or “correcting”. I just sort of have to power through that language and not take on board too the ridiculous misogynist messaging that clothes don’t just need to fit, they also need to help me transform myself from inadequate, hideous, and deformed to acceptable, proper, and trying hard enough. Okay, rant over on that one, maybe this is just my trigger warning.
People, y’all are amazing and your booties are fabulous! Let’s make sure those clothes fit and that we like wearing them, after all the effort we put into making them.
Okay one more thing, which I wanted to add after looking at your article again and seeing your paragraph on “swayback — is it or isn’t it?”
Sarah Veblen uses a Horizontal Balance Line (HBL) method in fitting muslins, that introduces a nice order of operations into the overall project of figuring out height and width issues in fitting. I took a zoom class from her on fitting tops that was so helpful, in addition to her book I find it a great way to tackle all those “is it my bust pulling or is the armpit too low or too narrow? Is it my hips too wide or my back too short for this pattern?” sort of problems that are, I think, like the swayback problem you discuss here (and have discussed on your blog in the past).
So, one more little bit of love from me for your fellow Maryland expert, Sarah Veblen.
Thanks a bunch for all your hard work pulling these resources together in one convenient place! As a fellow book learnin’ type, I must recommend Pants for Real People. Yes, the photos are dated and some styles downright dowdy, the the fitting advice is spot on and clearly presented.