Me, too! When I stand there, hands on hips with my elbows out, I clearly lean to the left. This has always presented me with a challenge when I sew – it takes twice the time to fit a pattern for both left and right sides.
The center back grainline is straight, but my hips aren't.
Cue the hip block…
Now when I sew I use the “franken-pattern” approach, grafting my hip block to a new pattern below the hip. My waistline, high hip and low hip follow my crooked lines and have the proper amount of ease. Below my hips, the pattern is on grain. Sewing just became much more fun.
A brief reality check: it’s going to take you a little longer to make your hip block if you are the proud owner of an asymmetric body. But when you’re done you’ll be a speedy seamer cranking out new clothes.
So what are we waiting for? Let’s get going!
Time saving tip: if you have a slightly asymmetric figure and are working from a commercial pattern, fit your paper pattern to your higher (or larger) hip, cut out as usual, then alter the skirt to fit the lower (or smaller) hip in the first fitting.
Make a pattern for both left and right sides if:
- Your alterations will be greater than 1/2 inch in width or length.
- Your asymmetry involves both side length (high hip on one side) and width changes (full hip on one side).
Tracing the left front on my lightbox, a picture window.
Use your higher hip at the waistline as the reference point on the pattern.
- Flip the reference pattern over and trace it to get the mirror image.
Don’t forget darts or your reference lines at high and low hip.
Left front pattern after left hip has been lowered 1/2 inch.
Alter your traced pattern to adjust for the lower or narrower hip.
Keep the waistline and side seam on grain when making length and width changes.
- Mark a line parallel to the hipline about 5 inches below the waist.
- Mark a line parallel to the center front or center back between the side seam and outside dart.
- Slash along the parallel lines.
- The upper edge of the hip at both waistline and side seam can now be adjusted on grain.
- Keep cut edges parallel to reference lines used to draw them.
- For a lower hip, move the section down as needed, square up the lines and tape in place.
- For a wider or narrower hip, move the section in or out as needed.
- Smooth the seamlines across the slashed edges.
Alterations after the first fitting are shown in blue at waist, side seam and dart. Red lines are preliminary changes made to the mirror image traced pattern. Pencil lines indicate the unaltered traced pattern.
Significant changes in side length or width may require adjustments in darts on the altered side.
- If you drop the waistline it will make your dart shorter and affect fit.
- To avoid this extend the center line of the dart down the same amount as you dropped the waistline.
- Mark the proper dart width at the new waistline.
- Draw the new dart legs.
When fitting, do not make more than one adjustment at a time.
- Make tucks or slashes in the muslin to align the horizontal and vertical grainlines correctly for the first alteration
- Transfer your changes to your paper pattern
- Use it to correct your muslin (by basting new seamlines)
- Then make the next round of alterations.
Making too many alterations at one time is a sure way to end up with a hip block that is not on grain or is overfitted. (Ask me how I know sometime…)
If you’d like more information on this step, the most useful reference I found for altering a hip block pattern for the asymmetric figure was Skirts and Pants Patterns by Jan Minott (www.minottmethod.com). I’m certain there are other great ones out there. Please share your findings with us all by noting them in the comments.
Ready to fit?