› Fitting the Skirt

How to Fit the Skirt Pattern

Once you have the bodice and sleeve fit, you can tackle the skirt.

Fitting the skirt pattern is relatively easy, but balance is important so the skirt hangs properly. There is nothing worse than a skirt that hikes up unevenly!

The skirt has limited garment ease and will fit very closely.  You should be able to move in it, however (if you are fitting it on yourself), and it should hang straight and smoothly on yourself or the body form.


Looking at the pull lines and seam lines, what is this skirt telling you?

side view of skirt sample on body form
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There are pull lines diagonally from the center front waist to the side hip.  This indicates that the skirt is too tight in the front (due to the belly). 

Looking at the reflection in the mirror, you can see that the skirt is very tight across the seat.  There are pull lines from the seat towards the waist, but the seat itself is a little TOO smooth – there is no ease at the seat.

We also have a problem with how the skirt is hanging on the body. 

The side seam, like that of the bodice, is pulling towards the front, above the hip line.  Below the hip line, the side seam is relatively straight. 

This is, again, an indication that more fabric is needed in the front of the skirt, but not the back.

corrected view of side skirt
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 By opening the side seam, we give the skirt more room at the waist and the hip area.  (The dashed line indicates the original seam line). 

I have also released a dart at the front waist to accommodate the belly.  This dart won’t be adjusted, it will simply be eliminated.

To allow more room at the waist without adding much in the hip area, you can release (or reduce the depth of) the waist darts. 

Most women’s sewing patterns are designed for a small waist and relatively larger hips (a classic “pear” shape).  If you’re more of an “apple” (thicker through the waist) or simply are fairly straight from bust to hip, you might need to make adjustments like these. Although this skirt needs room in the hips, it needs room in the waist even more.


The skirt is already hanging straight!

What's the Next Step?

As you did with the bodice and sleeve, mark all of your changes for the skirt pattern on the muslin in red felt-tipped pen.  Then re-sew the skirt and try it on again.  Continue marking and making changes until you are happy with the fit and the balance.

You can now set the skirt to the corrected bodice and try on your completed fitting pattern.  There should be few, if any, changes at this point.  The most common would be at the waist, if the bodice length is too long or short to allow the waist seam to sit properly.  

OK – if everything is looking good, you’re ready to transfer your corrected pattern to paper and make your own custom block!

Step-by-Step: Making and Fitting Your Block

Need More Help with Fitting Issues?

The examples on this site reflect MY fitting issues and how I resolved them.  YOUR body is likely very different. 

But, since this is a site about MAKING patterns and not specifically about fitting, I'm not going to address other fit issues here. And believe me, there are others who can address this issue better than me.

Any of the online classes and books listed below will help you achieve good fit. You can use the techniques on any pattern; but why make the same corrections over an over again?  Apply the principles to your block, and the fit corrections YOU need will be automatically built in to every pattern you make!

I can recommend any of the following classes or books to help you achieve good fit, no matter what your size or shape.  I have taken some of the classes and own or have used almost all of the books on this list, and have been pleased with how they address fit problems.

I am an affiliate of both Amazon and Craftsy, so I do receive a small commission from the sale of any of the books or classes when you use the links below.  You can also go directly to Craftsy or Amazon to order without generating a commission.

Online Sewing Class

Craftsy offers online sewing classes, including classes that specialize in fit. Two that I'd look into include Easy Fitting the Palmer/Pletsch Way: Shirts & Tops and Sew the Perfect Fit. They also have a fabulous class in altering patterns to fit plus sizes, called Plus-Size Pattern Fitting & Design.


Pattern Fitting With Confidence - Written by Nancy Zieman, host of the TV series "Sewing with Nancy". She provides a straightforward, down-to-earth approach to sewing and fitting. Very user-friendly.



The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting - I love this book!!! So wonderfully illustrated with photos, using commercial patterns to demonstrate the pattern alterations. It addresses almost any fit problem you might have. So easy to understand and follow!





Sewing for Plus Sizes: Creating Clothes that Fit and Flatter - A great book for Plus sizes! As a woman gets larger, it's not just the measurements that change - our overall proportions shift, too. This book addresses the different body types and proportions you commonly see in larger women. Truly helpful for larger women.



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