How to identify fit problems on clothing

All the perfectly straight seams and top notch sewing techniques cannot mask an ill-fitted garment! Fortunately, you do not need extensive knowledge on pattern making to adjust the fit of your handmade garments. Let's see how you can do that by making and analyzing a toile.

A too often neglected step, the toile is the best way to identify fit problems! It adds up another extra step, however, it can be sewn real quick because you do not need to edge-finish the raw edges or to apply any fasteners. Do not use expensive fabric to make the toile, but opt for a cheaper version of your actual fabric.

!! Watch out for pockets! Avoid poking or badly placed pockets by adding them to your toile.

When trying on the garment, stand straight with both hands laying on each side and keep your feet slightly apart. This is very important, especially when trying on trousers!

To do so, look for the following:

PLEATS, which indicate an excess of fabric. VERTICAL pleats are created where there is too much fabric in the width. On the other hand, HORIZONTAL pleats are created where there is too much fabric in the length.

BIAIS PLEATS are created by an excess of fabric in both length AND width.

STRESS LINES, which indicate a lack of fabric. Unlike pleats, stress lines have two ends. When stress lines are HORIZONTAL, there is not enough fabric in the width. On the other hand, when stress lines are VERTICAL, there is not enough fabric in the length.

BIAIS STRESS LINES are created by a lack of fabric in both length AND width.

Determine the measurement to remove by pinching the excess of fabric. When a measurement needs to be added, determine the measurement by slashing through the toile, across the stress lines.

In certain places such as a crotch, small measurements can make a big change, so be sure to add or remove with small steps.

Unbalanced garments will produce a lot of fabric to one side, but a lack of it on the opposite side. For instance, a pair of trousers can be very tight at the back of the crotch, but a pleat is formed at the front of the crotch. This means that the front should be shortened, but the back lengthened.

The same concept applied to girths. A garment can be too loose at the back and pushing against the front. Then to fix this, you need to widen the front and taper the back. This can also be done using the darts if your garment has them.

BEFORE ADJUSTING THE PATTERN, be sure to move, walk and sit while wearing the garment! Taking pictures and writing down notes and measurements is essential. 

Finally, browse our tutorials to help you with sewing pattern adjustments. Don't worry if you need to adjust your patterns because we all come in different shapes and forms! Do not hesitate to make several toiles so you can achieve that perfect fit.