Learn to Sew and Fit by Draping the Waistline Correctly
You would be surprised at how much better a garment fits when the waist is in the correct spot. When you lengthen or shorten the waistline, the hips land where they should on your body. We are going to explore draping beyond basics — waist draping.
Sewing With Sandi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for my website to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon and other websites at no cost to you.
Watch The Video
If you prefer to see all the details in video, you can click on the video link. Or, simply follow along with the written instructions. Or, my personal favorite, do both!
Pattern and Fabric
Photo McCalls 8022 Pattern
The pattern I used for this fitting video is McCalls 8022 — I love the simplicity of this princess seamed garment. For me, it is a little big in the shoulders creating the dropped sleeve shown in the drawings. I prefer something a little more tailored, but that is an easy fix by narrowing the shoulder seam on the front and back.
The fabric is the Minerva Exclusive Animal Song Sweater Knit. The soft, cozy fabric is easy to cut and sew – even without a serger. I love the overall pattern in muted winter colors. It will look stunning on most skin tones.
Poorly Fitting Garments
Yikes, we all have plenty of poorly fitting garments. That’s why we need to learn how to adjust patterns to fit our bodies. Each of our bodies has a story to tell, a history. We need to honor that history with great fitting clothes.
When the waist of your garment doesn’t fall on your natural waistline your clothes look ill fitting and frumpy. No one wants that. So here we are, whether you are short or tall, draping the waistline to perfection will make you look better, feel better, and love your clothes.
Pattern Tissue Center Front
On the center front of the tissue, and the center back too, there is a waist mark. The goal is to get this mark to drape at your actual waistline — where your body bends.
If the waistline mark is too high, you need to lengthen the garment somewhere above the waist — above or below the bust line depending on where that falls. I explored draping the bustline in this previous post.
If the waistline mark falls below your natural waist, then you need to shorten the tissue above the waistline mark.
And, yes, it is really that simple.
When we make a commercial pattern, it is designed for a certain fit model, say a size 10 that is 5’8″ tall. From there, the pattern is sized up and down to accommodate other sizes. But since our bodies don’t come in a one-size-fits-all, we need to make adjustments to the pattern.
The first time I make a pattern, I like to make a practice garment (a muslin). This practice garment is wearable sometimes, like the animal print one I used for this demonstration. I was lucky that I could simply shorten the waistline on the garment. Sometimes, adjustments need to be made that don’t look great on the finished garment making it unwearable.
Once you discover these adjustments, they should be made to the tissue so you can continue to use the pattern to make successful garments in the future.
Horizontal And Vertical Line
Take care when you adjust already-constructed garments that the internal seams you add (like this waistline seam) are perfectly parallel and perpendicular to the seams already sewn. We all want a perfect horizontal line or vertical line for our eye to follow and the garment is the same length all around the lower edge.
Patterns For On-The-Fly Adjustments
Good patterns for on-the-fly waist adjustments like Simplicity 8384. There is a waistline seam already drafted into the pattern allowing you to make adjustments easily. Another benefit of this pattern is the darts coming from the waist seam — These are great for circumference fitting.
Waistline Draping For Empire Seams
Draping at the natural waistline works the same way even if there is an empire seam. The waistline should still land at the natural waistline. The seam is simply moved up on the body. You can lengthen or shorten the waist using the empire seam allowances to achieve the desired effect for the hip location.
As you can see on Simplicity 8231 the empire seam is under the bust line and above the natural waist.
Basic Draping Instructions
Don’t know where to start? My Basic Draping 101 post. It will get you aimed in the right direction. Draping know-how takes time, but this is a solid place to begin the journey.
I use my dress forms frequently for checking draping. I do drape my clothes on my body, I think that is best. However, when you don’t have a buddy to help you get everything lined up correctly, a dress form is a valuable tool.
I find when I look at my garments on my body double dress form, it helps me assess fit and take my time making adjustments. Then I try it on with the pinned or basted adjustments before I make the final sew.
Fit For Your Shape And Stature
When the curves on your garment don’t match the curves on your body, your clothing looks ill fitting and poorly made.
Fitting a garment for your proportion takes a little practice, but once you eliminate excess fabric, a perfect bust line, and an appropriate waistline, your garments will hang beautifully.
We can all wear fun and fashionable clothing, it is all a matter of keeping the length in proportion to our body. Be critical of your garments when you look in the mirror. When they fit better, they are more flattering.
Drape With Confidence
Practice makes perfect. Select a pattern you like, make a practice garment, and then give it a critical eye and try draping it for a better fit. I hope you give draping beyond basics — waist draping a go. Your clothes will look and fit great.