Tuesday, September 23, 2014

McCall 6464 Making the Adjustment - Points of Reference

Good morning everyone,

A few days ago, I published a post on McCall 6464, a new dress I'm making in celebration of my birthday. In that post I provided a few photos showing the pattern adjustments needed to get the best fit for me. One of my dear readers asked if I would provide more details on how I go about making my adjustments. Of course, I agreed to share more information. But in doing that, I must say that these adjustments are especially made for me. Each of us have a unique size and will need to make adjustments based on our own unique requirements.  Second, there are so many approaches to pattern fitting.  Each of us has to determine which technique is best for us.  I follow the Palmer/Pletsch fit system and use tips from a variety of sewing friends and bloggers.  In this post  I will provide a few more details for the adjustments made for my version of the McCall dress 6464. Also, I will provide a list of references and resources that may aide in the fitting process.  But first, here is the comment from KJ2007 and my reply.

McCall 6464 - More details on how to fit (FBA, Prominent Shoulder Blades, and Sway Back).

Each McCall Palmer/Pletsch patterns includes details and illustrations on how to fit the pattern.  This information is part of the guide sheet. It is not uncommon to have four sheets consisting of quick, product reference, and details on how to achieve a well fitted garment.  I've used Palmer/Pletsch patterns for years.  Their patterns feature a variety of styles and the fit tips can be used to fit other patterns.

Sorry I don't have personal illustrations of some processes.  The patterns do have all of the steps. I only included a few illustrations in this post

Getting Started:
  • Select the right size.  Very, very important step.  Don't skip.

  • Tissue Fitting Instructions - Built-in Fit.  This is one of my favorite things about the Palmer/Pletsch pattern.  All of the alteration lines are drawn on the pattern pieces.

  • Tissue Fitting Instructions - Getting The Tissue Ready.  Use 1/2" tape to reinforce the tissue pattern around curved areas 5/8" away from the edge of the pattern.  This will allow you to try on the tissue to determine where alterations are needed.
  • Tissue Fitting Instructions - Try on The Tissue.  Pin the bodice together and try it on.  Start with analyzing the back.  You will need someone to help you.   There are lines on the pattern for back adjustments.  Measure the distance from the pattern center back to your center back.  Check the length.  Make sure it falls in the appropriate place on your back.   Assess the curve of your back upper and lower.  Cut and spread where needed and fill with pattern paper.  
  • For me, I cut the vertical line from the shoulder to the waist and spread 3/4" for my prominent shoulder blades.  I only need more room across my shoulder blades.  So I add a shoulder dart or ease in the excess at the shoulder seam. There are tucks on the lower back pattern pieces to make a sway back adjustment.  Typically, I make a 1/2" tuck across the back.  Sometimes I need to curve the center and side back seams in those areas as well.   Pin the back and front bodice together again.  Make additional back adjustments as needed.  Pin out excess as needed. and mark your pattern.  Next, determine if a FBA is needed.   "Measure from the pattern center front to your center front.  That is the amount you need to add."  
  • For me that amount is greater than 1".  So I use the "Y" FBA.  The lines are on the pattern piece and the steps in the guide sheet.  Here is how the FBA looks for my measurements.  Now I need to make a bust dart and make the waist dart deeper.

  • "If the bodice comes to your center front, but you have a gap in the armholes add 1/2" in the bust width to make the armhole smooth."

  • Because my body shape is an inverted triangle.  I don't need the extra width below the bust.  Often I removed the excess during the sewing process.

Should you make a muslin?  Yes.  I make the body upper muslin about 85% of the time when fitting a new pattern.  The tissue pattern response differently to the curves of our body than fabric.  Fabrics come in a variety of weaves.  Some may be loose while others are very tightly woven.  Knits have variations of stretch.  So make a muslin out of fabric with a similar weave as the fashion fabric for the garment.  Sometimes you may need to make more changes. 


Palmer/Pletsch - Fit for Real People.  Acquire this very useful book.  It will provide a step by step process for making fit adjustment for all body types.  This technique can be used for any pattern.  Palmer/Pletsch has a series of books on fit available on their website.

Vogue Sewing - This is a must have in your sewing library.  It too has tips on making fit adjustments.

PatternReview.com - has tons of resources available to members and non-members.  This is where I found several sewing experts and bloggers who shared tips and techniques on fit.

Workshops and Seminars - I had the pleasure of attending two excellent workshops:  Palmer/Pletsch and Power Sewing.  Both are worth the money and time spent. 

Sewing Bloggers:

I follow several bloggers who share fit information:

Ann Steeves of Gorgeous Fabrics Blog - Ann has several post on Fit.
Debbie Cook of Stitches and Seams - Debbie has several tutorials available on Fit as well.
Diana of SewPassionate - Diana has links to Lessons and Fit Videos on her blog.
Marji Graham of Fibers a Float - Marji does not blog very much these days, but she does share some fit information on her blog.

These are only a few bloggers that have help me with online fitting information.

Search Online for Fit Techniques and Videos:

Google Search on key words to find information on fit.  There are times when I'm starting a new project, I will Google the pattern to see if anyone has try it.  You may also Google:  full bust adjustment, pattern alteration, pattern fitting, how to fit ...,

My Pinterest:

DIY Tutorials - Sewing and Other Crafts - Here is where I collect helpful craft tips and techniques.

My Blog:

FBA and Dart Rotation

Sway Back

Example of Tissue Fitting

I hope this is helpful.

Happy Sewing!



  1. Thanks for all the updates - while I follow some blogs mentioned above; they aren't all on my radar. I've also started following your Pinterest page. Lots of lovely links there. Unfortunately I have a haphazard method of saving tutorials so I love when someone has a better method that I can borrow from.

  2. This is really thoughtful information for anyone to use as a springboard on the way to fitting. I hope your reader finds this information useful, I know I have. For a long time, I thought fitting was a secret society kind of thing, but now I am on a mission to make sure everyone knows. (smile)

  3. Thank you for sharing your process...I make many of the same alterations. I love the P & P patterns for their clear and concise explanations of how to achieve the best fit. These alterations were very overwhelming for me at first, but by doing them over and over they have become routine. For that reason, I am no longer satisfied buying RTW :-)!

  4. Thank you so much Cennnetta for the quick and thorough response!

  5. Thanks for such a detailed post on fit. You are always so generous with sharing your fit alterations. Your blog is always my starting point when it comes to doing my full bust adjustments, and you provide so much inspiration with all your beautifully fitted garments

  6. Thank you for providing this information. As a beginner sewer I have some of these fit issues and I am trying to teach myself how to fit correctly by reading books, posts and watching video tutorials. I must admit that starting out hearing the terms FBA, Swayback, tissue fitting and the math involved all sound very daunting and overwhelming. This post has helped.



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