Back Do-Over


I reread the books specifically looking at the order of alterations and how to do the alterations I think I need. I looked for what I did wrong as well as what I didn’t do. I rechecked my worksheet.  I made the worksheet not just to record the numbers but also to do the calculations. All calculations are expressed as formulae and had to be verified. Finally I dug out of the trash my original penciled measurements.

I made 3 errors. I recorded the wrong bust and waist in the worksheet; and while I calculated and highlighted the extensions, I didn’t make them.  So lets start again. Well not quite at the very beginning.  Since I copied my pattern and made changes on the working copy all I need do is start with another working copy. No problemo. I have lots of colored tissue.

An additional thought crossed my mine. Since the pattern size was chosen to match my upper bodice, to eliminate neckline gaposis and excess ease up there, would the shoulder really need to be shortened.  Especially as the size I’m using for the exercise was the same size I used when age 14 and the shoulders were fine at that time. Easy enough to check. I laid my woven sloper on top of the copied, size-10  pattern. They matched.  Which means, if I start with a size 10, the shoulder will be the correct width i.e. I don’t need to do both an NSA.  The first alteration I made was the sloping shoulder.  Boom! Done!  I’ve got this!

Then I moved onto the bust.  An issue I have with the alteration pages, is that each starts as if they are done in a void. As if no other alteration will be needed. If you only need one alteration, I really think it would be easier to make the single alteration on your tissue and be done with it. Trimming, tracing, pivot and sliding is adding unneeded effort. Yet the instructions are all composed as if there were no changes before and will be none after this alteration. This was particularly painful when making the bust alteration.  Pivot Point 1 (for the bust alteration) is at the shoulder/armscye intersection.  Which intersection?  The original shoulder or the intersection which results with the newly sloped shoulder. I could email NZ and wait a week or so for the answer or I could just try it out.  I found that I needed to use the intersection of the newly sloped shoulder otherwise the underarm is located too high (it’s back up there where I started and I knew I didn’t want it up there).  To complete the bust alteration, the side seam is rotated/pivoted so that it slants from the new undearm to the waist. I finished and thought “This is a crock.  I’m going to make a waist alteration next and draw yet another line from bust to waist.”  See that’s the thing about making the alteration without any regard as to whether there was an alteration before this one and if there might be an alteration after this one.  Lines are going to be repeated or even misplaced.

“Oh Dang!” I thought. What about the extensions that fouled me up last time. So I hunt and find the instructions again or at least a pointer to the instructions. In one of NZ’s side notes it says to go to another page and follow the instructions there.  Guess what?  Once there I find out that the lines I first drew for the bust alteration are completely wrong.  When I read the instructions the night before I thought I was doing something special.  We had to calculate how much the total alteration should be.  Then how many seams it was to be divided between and finally how much-needed to be made beyond the max 1″ that can be done through pivoting the pattern. That first instruction for the bust alterations should be “if you will need extensions, skip this page and follow the instructions on page yada yada…” Because  you need to calculate the total alteration amount and divide that by the number of seams which gives you the distance to make the dot away from the original side seam.  Align side seam from that dot to waistline and draw your new side seam.  Finally extend (that’s why it’s called an extension) the bottom of the underarm straight out to meet the dot.   OK had to do the bust alteration twice. I’ll remember that in the future.

Then I did the waist alteration which essentially is putting a dot straight out from the original pattern waistline at the point which will add the extra you calculated needed. Then the side seam is aligned between the new armscye/sideseam dot and the waistline dot you just made.  I drew that D2^^^^^^ side seam 3 times. THREE.  Ok, I’ll be smarter next time.

I moved onto the hip. I marked the 7″ hip on the pattern because my hip is 7″ below the waist. On this pattern the 7″ hip is only 1/2″ above what will be the raw edge of the hem. There is no mention of what to do in this situation. You might want to know  if any of your daughters wants you to make a cropped top.  Then again, they probably don’t have to worry about generous sized hips.  By now I was familiar with the process and put a dot across from the hip the distance which equaled the amount of ease I needed. Align side seam between new waist and the hip dot. Draw the new side seam.

At last, I was done. I could step back and look at my new back pattern.  The pattern that had been altered for my personal measurements through the easy, simple adaptable Pivot and Slide procedure:

WAIT take a look at my back at the same time:


You know that can’t fit me. Look at the green armscye that swoops out to the red underarm Follow the green dashed line that will be my new side seam.  Follow it from undearm to side and down to hip.  The waistline is awfully wonky. Could it be the real issue?  If I ignored the waist point, how far off from my sloper  is my new pattern?

Sloper is the white with dots plotting darts. Copied pattern is yellow tracing paper. New pattern developed through Pivot and Slide is blue tissue.

My sloper has produced multiple well-to-perfect fitting woven blouses. (Please allow me to exclude the ponte/double knit.)  Let’s look closely at the armscye:

The armscyes are off and not just a little bit.  The new armscye is substantially higher and wider. My sloper armscye feels and looks good when I’m using woven and stretch woven fabrics.  You don’t use the variety of woven fabrics I have without issues showing up. If the armscye was wrong for woven fabrics, I’d have some hint by now.

Ignoring the armscye, how about if I just focus on the side seam, aligned at the waists.

The sloper has 1/2″ seam allowances, the pattern 5/8″.  I was expecting the new pattern to peak out underneath the sloper. I’m seeing and inch at the underarm  (which is 2″ down from what should be the new underarm) and at least 1/2″ too wide at the hip. Much more than I expected.  I had half way expected that the new pattern would be too small i.e. not enough ease.  A few days ago I pointed out that NZ wanted me to add ease to my measurements. This confused me because the pattern would already have both body and design ease. I thought I might be wrong. I thought I might need to go back and add ease to my body measurement but looking at this, I don’t think so.

I don’t think I can fix this my new patter by ignoring the plotted waist and  dropping the side seam straight down from the armscye to hem. There is more going on although I don’t know what is causing my issues.

This could be one of those knowledge areas where I really need a teacher.  Someone who can stand over my shoulder and say “Not that. You don’t understand”  or even “Pay attention.  If you don’t get this it won’t work.”  Maybe by reading both the Sew Fit Manual and Pattern Fitting with Confidence at the same time, I have confused myself.  I followed only the instructions in Pattern Fitting with Confidence.  I read an instruction and followed it exactly as I understood.  Then read and followed this instruction. I even regretted the read/follow action  when I drew the side seam 3 times. However, I don’t have an instructor. I don’t have a sewing buddy nearby. I have to figure this out myself.

I cleaned my room and put things away.  I’ve not discarded anything (other than the tissue I admitted to earlier.)  Maybe giving the process a few days will help me understand.  Maybe  a few days peace will clear my mind and with ‘fresh eyes’ I’ll see what I did wrong or at least what I need to do next. Pivot and Slide is on hold for me.  The conclusions I would share right now are

  1. Pivot and Slide  is too much effort if only one or two alterations are needed.
  2. I would not recommend this method to an inexperienced sewist or someone with difficult fitting issues.

So far, Pivot and Slide is not my friend. It seems so logical. It seem like it should work. But you see what I got.


4 thoughts on “Back Do-Over

  1. I am in the process of reading your blog. Great information, thank you. I have been using NZ Pivot & Slide method for my plus size pattern fitting for a few years. I been 75% happy with the outcome, I use Peggy Sager’s armhole and/or sleeve templates along with a few other fitting tips. The combination seems to speed up the pattern fitting issues I have with ALL patterns I buy. Great blog, keep working on the pattern fitting you’re doing great.


    1. Bonnie
      I’ve been thinking of some how combining P&S with already acquired personal fitting knowledge because it’s obvious to me what I did isn’t going to work. It’s a relief to hear from someone who uses the system and admits to having to supplement it.


  2. I frankly never fell in love with pivot and slide. It was just way to easy to loose track of where I was if there was any kind of interruption. I can follow hack and slash pretty well. < : )


    1. LOL I’ve been doing pretty good with hack and slash up till now. With my additional shoulder slope I’ve ruined the armscye causing problems I cant fix. I’m obviously no Peggy Sagers.




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