|Excerpted from Fast Fit
Problem Areas: The Back
In Fast Fit, Sandra Betzina offers innovative, simple, and straightforward approaches to sewing clothing with the best possible fit, and ultimately, the most flattering look. In this excerpt, she explains how to adjust a pattern for broad and narrow backs.
If the back of your garments feel tight and the back armhole seamlines often rip out, then you're all too familiar with the broad back overfitting problem. The dilemma with ready-to-wear is difficult: If you buy a garment that fits in front, the back is too tight. Yet, if you buy a garment to fit your back, there's too much fabric in the front.
Few of us have bodies that are divided in perfect halves, so that the front of the body is the same width as the back. This is particularly true when comparing the upper back to the upper front chest. Many people are one size in front and one or two sizes larger across the back. Sometimes age, too, can cause a rounded back and narrowed upper chest. Whatever the case, pattern alterations can dramatically improve your garments.
On a single-size pattern, add a vertical extension from the shoulder to the hemline. If your pattern is multisize (see Simple sizing), use a size or two larger when cutting the back. To join the seamlines, add an easeline across the back shoulder or, for large alterations, create a dart in the middle of the back shoulder.
A narrow back is quite common on people with very erect posture. You may have either been born with an upper-torso fitting problem or adopted an erect posture through force of habit. If your garments have vertical wrinkles up and down the back, and horizontal wrinkles between the shoulder blades, it's a good indication that you have a narrow back. From shoulder to waist, your entire back is proportionally smaller than your front.
In this case, both a horizontal and a vertical adjustment are necessary. A typical back alteration is 1/2 in. (1.3cm), but you may need to fine-tune your alteration. The ideal style for you is one in which the back seams extend from shoulder to hem, so you can take in the seams. Today's Fit patterns by Vogue and Butterick patterns often feature this type of seaming. Whether the entire back -- or just the top half -- is narrow, the following instructions help create a smooth, wrinkle-free back.
FAST FIT solution
Reduce the back pattern piece both horizontally and vertically to eliminate all wrinkles. Ease the different-length shoulder seams together. Reduce the sleeve back with a horizontal tuck to match.