Temporary Uneven Side Seams and How to Fix Them


You adjust the front or back of your garment pattern differently than the corresponding piece resulting in uneven side seams. Joi says “Don’t Panic! This is a normal expected temporary change that is corrected after you scale your pattern to fit your body. Let’s learn more . . .


According to Designer Joi, the goal of altering a pattern is to make it match the overall shape, scale, and proportion of the wearer. To achieve the best fit you should always treat the front of any pattern separate from the back because pattern alterations are not always symmetrical from the front to back. Sometimes vertical adjustments result in a length discrepancy at the side seams. However, this is a temporary issue.  Joi always says, ”The bulk of fit is in the body of the pattern, not the edges. The edges are just polishing.” Most people try to adjust fit in the edges which is not addressing the scale of the overall pattern.


Keep it simple is Joi’s Motto. You are not making an art project so don’t over think the process at this point. Here are a few tricks to evening out the sides and you will do the final polishing during the fit sample.


The waist is often not a harsh straight line that we often see fresh out of the pattern envelope. Even on a dress form it is relatively parallel to the floor, but sometimes the waist will arc on the body causing a shorter center back or center front. When the side seams are at different lengths from pattern modifications we need to simply blend where the patterns join.

This pattern illustrates different adjustments applied to the front and back of a pattern. The front pattern ended up being shorter in length at the side seam so a wedge was added in the flat pattern and blended toward the center of the pattern piece. This allows the flat pattern to technically match the back. A fit sample will be made and the official shape of the waistline will be determined. NOTE: The lower pink pattern adjustment on the front pieces looks like it is at an angle. This is because the dart was folded so the side seams could be walked and compared.
By placing elastic or ribbon around the waist you can determine the final shape of the waist seam of the final garment. Doing this is similar to measuring the waist.

Step 1: The easiest method is to walk the side seams starting at the underarm and then simply add a wedge to the bottom side seam of the shorter piece and blend. This will give you the missing space on the flat pattern. At this point, this solves the flat pattern issue, but there is a little more to the final refinement of the waist seam.


Step 2: Sew your fit sample. Take a piece of narrow elastic or a ribbon and tie it around your natural waistline or the desired waistline placement. Mark with chalk or fabric marker the official waistline on the muslin. It is possible that the natural waistline dips down toward the middle on the longer piece and even arcs upwards on the shorter piece. It is ok if your waistline is not a perfect parallel circle. Many times they are not due to the contour of the body.


Step 3: If you have a “natural” waistline that is not perfectly parallel to the floor or has a drastic angle to it, the fit sample is where you can trace in a new waistline to create illusion such as making your waist appear more level, higher, lower or slimmer by changing the shape.


Don’t be afraid to modify your sewing patterns and make them custom to your body. Blend the edges of the pattern to correct temporary changes that occur and determine the final lines in the muslin fitting sample. It’s that easy. Coming up next: what happens when you have uneven skirt or pant lengths?

We will adjust the length after we do all the pattern fitting at the top above the knee because that is where the fitting is involved. Then you can do one of 2 things. You can true up the flat pattern before you make your fit sample, or you can make your fit sample sewing the side seams from the top down not the bottom up. Do the fitting and then measure the correction and make a note on your fit sample. This is what I usually do. I am aware that the lengths may need adjusted and I make a note on the fit sample how much to add. The other thing you can do is just add a generous amount at the bottom length that you can then mark to even up the hem and then wack off the excess. I do that a lot too. I really like to keep it simple and streamlined.


Like I said in the video, pretty paper patterns are great for photos, and books, but for most people when doing a single garment you want to be efficient. Efficient does not mean sloppy or rushing. I just mean not over thinking the process and over thinking, overworking, and spending all your time on wasting time. If that makes sense. It is kind of a life skill. I never thought about that till now. I am going to blog post this comment I think. It’s a really good practical discussion.

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