Pattern Fitting Tips: How to Transfer Pinned Fitting Adjustments

Posted by on Mar 25, 2014 in Sewing |


Achieving a superior fit to what’s available as ready-to-wear is one of the principle reasons people sew their own clothes. Fitting patterns is one of the most challenging aspects of sewing and as any experienced garment sewer knows, it is a process. It begins well before the first pattern piece is cut and continues throughout the entire garment construction process.

Making a Muslin

Photo via the Craftsy class Sew the Perfect Fit

The best way to achieve the most precise fit is to prepare a muslin, or garment prototype.

It effectively weeds out the most serious fitting issues so that the actual garment assembly is done with fewer errors and less over-handling of the chosen material. Tutorials and sewing books typically illustrate fitting techniques on muslins, where the marking tools used are less important. But the brighter and more visible the markings on the muslin, the better.

But, not everyone prepares a muslin and not every project requires one. More importantly, even with a muslin, additional fitting is typically necessary. But this time, you are working with the chosen fabric.

In many instances the best way to fit is to do it with the garment on, and to pin from the right side of the fabric.

So now the challenge focuses on how to transfer any pinned adjustments without damaging the fabric.

Choosing the right tools and methods for the task requires some careful considerations. The fabric, of course, will play a big role in determining both tools and method. Pins, fabric pens and chalk are the most likely tools of choice, but with some fabrics, only hand stitches will do. Just remember to test, test, and test before you use any pens or chalk on the right side of the fabric.

Sewing Adjustment Pinned Inward

Sewn Adjustment Pinned Outward

Pin fitting is typically done in one of two ways. Pinning can be done in an inward fashion or in an outward fashion. Each presents its own set of options as to how to transfer the adjustments to the wrong side of the fabric. The overall objective of any pinned adjustments is to create a revise or new seam line.

Here are a few pattern fitting tips for transferring adjustments when pinning in an inward fashion:

Inward Pinned Adjustment Using Fell Stitch

Underside of Garment

1. For fabrics where a fabric pen is ineffective, the first method is to hand-stitch a new seam line based on the pinned adjustment. Here, a fell stitch works best and creates a thread line on the underside of the garment, which becomes the new seam line.

Pinned Fabric, As Close to Fold as Possible

Pinned Fabric and Fabric Marker

2. The next method requires that the pins be inserted as close to the fold as possible. Once that is done, turn the garment to the underside. Then, using chalk or fabric pen, mark the location of each pin as shown in the photo. This becomes the new seam line. Before removing the pins, secure the two layers of fabric together from the underside of the project.

Ironing Folds in Pinned Fabric

Pinned Fabric Ready for Sewing

3. This next method is the easiest. Simply press the pinned fold in place. Using glass head pins in this method is a must! Here again, before removing the pins, be sure both layers of fabric are secured underneath. Remove the pins at the fold and unfold to reveal the pressed crease, which is the new seam line.

And here are a few pattern fitting tips for pinning in an outward fashion:

Fabric Pinned, Pins Facing Outward

Ironing Underside Seam of Fabric

Fabric Seam Lines

1. This one is super simple. Simply press the seam open. This quickly and easily reveals the new seam lines.

Fabric Marked with Fabric Pen

2. From the underside of the garment, mark the location of the pins using chalk or a fabric pens. Remove the pins and if marked sufficiently both sides of the new seam line is revealed.

Dart Adjustment on Fabric

Learn the secrets to creating and customizing your own garments in one of Craftsy’s patternmaking classes, including Sew the Perfect Fit! You’ll enjoy expert instruction on how to modify your own designs and ultimately draft your own patterns to achieve the perfect look.

Which of these techniques do you use for transferring pinned fitting adjustments?