Image of armhole alterations for a knitting pattern, drawn on squared paper

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Welcome back, everyone! Here’s a little listicle to ease you in ahead of this season, all about pattern fitting and alterations. Knitters and sewists alike will find these helpful – let me know how this post lands for you.

  1. DO take a holistic view of your figure.  NEVER become fixated on or isolate a so-called problem area.
  2. Always fit the shoulder area first if working on a bodice.  No matter what type of garment you’re making, the shoulders will be the main support.  Clothing that does not hang properly from the shoulders will compromise all subsequent alterations and waste your time.
  3. Always work from the top down.  If you are working on a bodice, start with the shoulders; if a pair of trousers, start with the crutch curve, hip and waist.
  4. The simplest alterations are lengthwise ones, followed by width, and finally volume or 3D alterations.
  5. Do get into the habit of noting your personal landmarks – bust, waist, hip etc. – on the paper pattern so that you have a point of reference for any adjustments.  This is especially important if you’re using a pattern from a company you haven’t tried before.
  6. Work on one adjustment at a time, beginning with the most major or significant.  You will often find that correcting the most apparent problem has a positive knock-on effect and make any other adjustments easier, or at least put them into context.
  7. For sleeves, alterations in length can be done on the paper pattern.  Alterations in width or volume are often best left until toileing stage, as these adjustments should be checked against the fit of the armhole curve.

If you have any tips for pattern fitting and alterations, share them in the comments! My weekly newsletter is all about clothes making – designing, building and curating a wardrobe that loves you. You can sign up below.

7 quick tips for pattern fitting and alterations

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Natalie in Stitches

I design for confident knitters who are keen on getting their garments to fit well. My catalogue includes knitting patterns for lace sweaters, cable sweaters, shawls, cowls, and the occasional scarf. These designs are ideal for building or curating an inspiring wardrobe. I am also a qualified teacher and share my favourite tips, tricks and techniques on my blog, where you can also find advice on garment fitting, alterations, knitwear design and sewing pattern reviews. Courses are also coming soon - sign up to my newsletter for updates.

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