sewing garments with no adjustments

We talk a lot about fitting and pattern adjustments on this blog. Our goal is to help you create clothes that fits you the way you want, and learning to alter patterns for your shape is a key part of that. And I do believe that anyone can learn to fit a pattern, and that pattern adjustments really don’t take that much time.

But often, we get comments saying that these alterations seem daunting or time-consuming. And so, I think it’s worth devoting some blog space to the argument that you may not always need to dive down into nitty-gritty pattern adjustments in order to create a beautiful garment that you love and will love to wear.

In fact, one of my most beloved handmade pieces is one of the first ones I ever sewed myself, and I didn’t make any changes to it whatsoever. It’s the Lisette Traveler, which has long since been discontinued, and I sewed this one in early 2014. Here I am wearing it back then.

Strictly speaking, the fit isn’t quite right. The bust dart is too high and the shoulders are too wide. But I don’t think either of these issues are really noticeable to anyone but me. This tunic is still one of my favorite pieces, and when it fits, I wear it often. Because I didn’t overfit it, it fits me well across a fluctuating weight range. Below, you can see me wearing it more recently. In these photos I’m a size or two larger than I was when I first made it.

As I mentioned, this pattern is out of print. But you can get a similar look by lengthening the Classic Shirt pattern or the Recital Shirt pattern. The Recital is princess-seamed and comes with a band collar similar to this one. The Classic Shirt has bust darts (and cup sizes!) and the collars are interchangeable between the two patterns.


Labels: ,


  1. Phyllis

    I so appreciate this post! I’ve often wondered why I needed to worry that my shoulder seam is 1/2″ wider than my shoulders, or my finished waistline is 1/4″ wider than it should be. I thought I was a bad sewist for thinking these dark thoughts! Who cares? It looks good and I enjoy wearing it — is anyone going to notice these tiny “flaws”? No, I don’t think so. I make a muslin for most garments and if I need to make any adjustments I do it on the garment, not on the pattern

    The adjustment I’ve found really does make for a better fit is moving the dart higher or lower. Old boobs do need some accommodation.

    What would really help is if pattern makers would agree on standard measurements for every size, and not place the burden for figuring it out on the buyer, brand by brand.

    1. I’m glad you liked this post. I think you hit the nail on the head when you wondered why you should worry. What matters is that you’re happy with the fit. If you are, no alterations are necessary!

      1. Phyllis

        Something I forgot to say in my previous comment:
        Just as no one will notice your shoulder seams, neither will they notice if you have gained 2.3764 ounces from photo one to photo two. I didn’t. You are beautiful as you are and no need to apologize. (I can say this because I do the same thing.)

  2. Cindy Cooksey

    That’s a really cute look! I want to try it. I don’t remember ever seeing that pattern. Thanks for showing it to us, and telling us how we can approximate it….. As far as making adjustments is concerned, I usually don’t do much other than making things a little shorter. I like Liesl’s patterns in that they pretty closely approximate the sizes in ready-made clothing, compared to other sewing pattern companies that I have tried.

  3. py

    This is a nice thought and good to keep in mind but, the reality is that for the tall, the short, those whose bodies shapes(while they may be fine the way the are) no one is designing patterns for, this is wishful thinking. Why put all the loving care into sewing if the resulting fit is just as bad or worse than what is available in retail? Many people who work on fitting are realistic and only trying to get to “good enough” – to wearable- not perfect. The concept that fitting isn’t really necessary can be just as discouraging to sewists as the concept that one must strive for a perfect fit.

    I for one am glad you show how to adjust your lovely patterns. The adjustments make them more accessible to more people of all sizes and shapes.

    1. I’m a big fan of fitting, and the point of this post wasn’t to argue that one should never fit a pattern. Really it was just that, if you are happy with the fit, that’s what is important. Many of us aren’t happy with the fit out of the envelope on many patterns. That’s why we spend so much time on this blog showing people how to adjust patterns. But sometimes a garment that doesn’t fit absolutely perfectly, like the one in this post, still becomes a wardrobe workhorse. I want to empower people to learn how to adjust patterns to fit them well. But I definitely don’t want to overwhelm and turn off people who may think that it’s too hard to make adjustments.

  4. Lynette

    This is a lovely article! I think it’s interesting because I believe we all have unique ideas about what “fit” is. I have found it helpful to base the garment size I select for a pattern on how much wearing ease it has. I tend to prefer less wearing at ease than others might because I have a very small frame. Too much fabric is overwhelming on my body. My selection may differ up to one or two sizes away from the size based on body measurements, depending on the garment, but that doesn’t matter to me as long as the piece looks “right” on me (even if it doesn’t technically fit in a critical sense). Thank you for inspiring all of us to be less concerned about what other people think and more about how we feel in the clothes we make. Go sewists!

Post a comment