Winning With Woven

Home sewers seem to be split into two camps – knits and wovens – and they are just as passionately divided as any gangs in a finger snapping movie with rousing musical numbers.

If you are part of ‘team knit’, or you are a beginner with limited sewing experience then you may not be used to fitting woven garments. Woven patterns may need a little extra effort to achieve the best fit.

People come in a wonderful variety of shapes and sizes, and the great thing about sewing is that you can create garments to your unique physique. With knit/stretch garments the fabric does some of the hard work for you. You need a little more here and a little less there? The fabric can stretch to accommodate. This doesn’t happen with woven fabrics.

Two people with the exact same bust, waist and hip measurements can have very different shapes. One could have a longer torso, one could carry their bust higher, one could have broader shoulders… All of these things mean garments will sit slightly differently on their bodies. I mention it ALL THE TIME but it is SO important to do a test sew from non-precious fabric before cutting into the good stuff. Just as you wouldn’t buy an expensive outfit for an important occasion without trying it on, you shouldn’t sew a ‘final’ garment before doing a quick test. For the best results you should use a test fabric with a similar weight and drape to your ‘good’ stuff, but for a quick fit check anything remotely in the same family will work. I’m a big fan of old bed sheets for woven tests!

Here are four people who measure XL for bust and high bust. For three the fit is snug but comfortable. For one there is some gaping around the arms. (Notice how that person is sewing a fit test – gold star!)
I have some easy fixes for you to try if this happens to you.

1. If you are close to needing a full bust adjustments (if there is 10cm/4″ difference between your high bust and full bust) or if you have broad shoulders, you may find that sizing down and choosing the full bust pattern piece gives you a better fit.

2. Adjust the straps. Before sewing the straps in place try basting and then put the garment on. Would lengthening or shortening them help?

3. Go up or down a size. Are you at the top end of a size and prefer a looser fit? Go up. Are you at the bottom end of a size and require a closer fit? Try going down.

4. Add a dart. This pattern doesn’t include darts but that doesn’t mean you can’t easily add one if you need. Sew a test without the lining. Put it on and gently pinch out any excess fabric. This kind of dart generally works best if it points towards the bust apex (fullest part of the bust). You may find it helpful to mark this point on your test fabric (make sure to wear a well-fitting bra when doing this!). Pin in place ensuring you are happy with the new shape. You can then transfer the location and size of your dart to your front pattern pieces. Model number 2 added a small dart to her pattern and now not only looks fabulous, but has a pattern fitted exactly to her body. #winning