Broad Backs

After my Pussy Bow Blouse post Jenny asked me how I did a broad back adjustment. I’m not much of an expert at fitting but there are a few techniques I have used in the past which might help.

I have a broad back and also broad shoulders and the adjustment I use depends on what sort of fit I am trying to get.

Option 1 – for the Pussy Bow Blouse I just added strip up the centre. The pattern had to be cut on the fold so I just laid the centre back of the pattern piece 2cm from the fold and cut round it as normal. Easy, no pattern adjustment required! I also had to adjust the length of the bow across the back neck and if your pattern has a facing, you would have to adjust that too. The downside of this adjustment is that the back neck is made wider but I was lucky, as it doesn’t seem to have produced any gaping.

img_2032Option 2 – As I have broad shoulders I have in the past just added a vertical strip starting mid shoulder (figure G). This is good in that it solves both fitting issues at once, however it does mean your waistline is also affected. For this adjustment you also need to adjust the shoulder line on your front bodice

Option 3 – This is probably the adjustment I use most often. It allows me to adjust for both my broad back and broad shoulders but does not affect the waist measurement. First you draw lines as show in figure B – the first is parallel to the grain from the mid-shoulder to the waist, the second is perpendicular to this and runs to just below the arm hole. Cut across the shorter perpendicular line and then up the vertical line to the shoulder, then slide the piece you have cut out so there is a gap equal to the amount you want to adjust by (figure D). Then you have to true up the side seam so it is the same length as the original (figure F). Don’t forget to also adjust the shoulder seam on your front bodice.

img_2027Option 4 – This is good if you don’t have to adjust your shoulder line. Firstly draw the same figure B lines as you had before. Then starting at the waistline you cut up to the shoulder leaving a small hinge at the top and across the perpendicular line leaving a small hinge at the side seam. Push the side seam out leaving a gap the size of the adjustment you need (figure C). You will then need to true up the waist seam so it matches the original (figure E)

img_2028I usually determine the size of the adjustments I need by comparing the pattern pieces to my block. If the pattern is for a fitted garment I find an adjustment of up to 4cm across the back and 2cm on each shoulder is required. For less fitted garments, which will have some design ease already added, the adjustment is usually smaller. I’m not sure why this is but adding in the full 4cm means I am swamped by the finished garment.

One problem I have not been able to resolve is that if I chose a fitted pattern using my bust measurement and then add 4cm at the back I find this makes the front a bit large. Some people advocate choosing your pattern size by using your upper bust measurement, but I find my upper bust measurement is the same as my full bust despite being a D cup – this is probably again because of the broad back – so this doesn’t really help me. If anyone has a suggestion as to how I can resolve this please let me know!




6 thoughts on “Broad Backs

  1. Thank you Jane. That is really helpful. As I have a narrow shoulder and broad back I will use a variation of these but your instructions help make it much clearer.

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