To adjust or not to adjust? A pattern, that is…

I’ve been thinking lately about alterations we sew-ers have to make to patterns to get a good fit. If you’ve been sewing long enough you learn which types of adjustments you almost always have to make to every pattern. For example – shortening for the short-waisted, shoulder seam changes for the slope-shouldered, back neck gaping on people who have what a friend has dubbed “computer neck.” There’s also broad-back adjustments, armhole adjustments, hip to waist ratio adjustments. Everyone has special needs when it comes to pants and then there’s probably the most common: full or small bust adjustment.

I’m lucky that I only have a two main changes that I need to make to patterns: sway back and wider sleeves/armholes.

(my absolute favorite explanation of and solution to the sway back from Pattern Scissors Cloth)

But I’m also a lazy sew-er and don’t like to make adjustments. I can usually get away with not fixing smaller sleeves and I like flutter sleeves because they’re extra roomy. But I also tend to ignore the sway-back issue altogether. Maybe it’s because I never look at myself from behind so I don’t care.

This also brings up the idea of overfitting that sew-ers often do. We’re nit picky about every detail on a garment we make ourselves but when we buy RTW we don’t notice as much.

Bow Blouse

Take this blouse I drafted last week as an example – I probably should have done a sway back adjustment because you can see how the fabric pools in back. But if this was a shirt I found at the Gap I’d never consider that a problem. Before sewing I didn’t even know what a “sway back” was. I guess ignorance is bliss in this case. Thinking that the shirt fits fine would save me extra time on the drafting table.

With shirts the sway back issue doesn’t matter much but on these new high-waist shorts I just finished I can’t tell if I am bothered enough to go rip off the waist band and make a post-sewing adjustment. When I stand normally (with a sway back) I get some small rippling up by the center waistband which goes away if I tilt my hips in a different position but who wants to walk around all uncomfortable just so her shorts sit correctly?

(you can see the extra fabric bubbling up under the waistband on these shorts)

But if these shorts were in a store, would I even care or notice? Is it that big of a problem that I should go back and fix them? And I should note that I absolutely despise returning to an old project to fix a mistake. It’s like having to go back to your old boyfriend’s house because you forgot to take your CDs with you  when you moved out. I just want to move on with my (sewing) life!

On the other hand, some people absolutely have to do adjustments no matter what – like the FBA folks. If they don’t then their garment just won’t be wearable.

So here are my questions:

  1. Would my little sway back shorts issue annoy you enough to grab the seam ripper for a do-over?
  2. What adjustments do you often have to make and do you ever skip them to save time or effort?
  3. I didn’t make a muslin for these shorts. Instead I cut extra big seam allowances for fitting and my sway back problem didn’t exist until I added the waist band. If you are one who has many adjustments do you always make muslins just to be extra sure about the fit?

I’m still on the fence about what I’ll do because these shorts have necessarily complicated to make and making another fix is just going to annoy me more. But then again I’ll be wearing them far longer than I’ll be annoyed by them so maybe it is worth the work…