Auxiliary Reference Information | Test Garment Creation | 7a. Draft Alteration Assessment - Part 1

Your Test Garment is a 3 dimensional version of your 2 dimensional Master Draft so every alteration that you have drawn onto your Test Garment during fitting needs to be transcribed back to the draft.

If you do this after every fitting then you know that those changes have been dealt with and also done so while they are fresh in your mind.

After a fitting you may decide to alter the current Test Garment according to the alterations decided on during the fitting to check the fit again. Or if the Test Garment is really mashed up to create a new Test Garment from the updated draft and then you would carry on with the same process, fitting then drafting the alterations from this fitting until you are happy with the final fit.

Sometimes you will try things out with a Test Garment to see if you like the alteration and may decide to go back a step to a previous fitting.

Sometimes you may even make extra copies of the Master Draft to do your experimentation until you are sure which alterations you want to settle for, especially if this is for a Flexible Pattern and there is a complicated Design feature.

Things can get a little mashed up at this stage both on your Test Garment and on your Draft, especially on a larger body and a bigger bust, or a complex design. The trick is to stick to one alteration at a time if you can while keeping in mind how each alteration might affect an adjoining part of the Test Garment.

It would be impossible for me to know all of the marks you have made on your Test Garment at this point as you could have altered a multitude of things during the fitting especially if you are working on a Flexible Pattern.

However there are some common fitting issues that you will come across time and time again and if we look at the Base Template we can see how to transfer and map out the changes back to the draft. The following directions and sample photos will help you understand how to deal most alterations. Once you get into the swing of how to do this you will be able to make an assessment of how you are going to deal with all of your alterations using a little logic. Whatever works for you and the more practice you get at this the easier it becomes.

Although it is a suggestion to work on the alterations in the order that you did them during the fitting sometimes logically this may not be the best way to do this and you may prefer to work out of order, for example in the previous fitting photos in the last unit some alterations were made retrospectively. Alterations take some thought it is not just about following rules and guidelines. You can make one modification then change your mind again but if you are marking each alteration then it will be clear to you what you have changed and decided upon.

Sometimes you can change one alteration and that makes you think of another logic question to solve because altering one thing can affect another part of the garment so it is somewhat a fluid process.

Here are a few starting tips;

  • When you originally drafted you may have used pencil, so it is a good idea to use a different colour to the original markings. It makes sense to use the same pen colour that you used during the fitting. This helps you identify when you made the alteration. The erasable pens are really good for this as you can get them with fine tips.

  • You have your Test Garment with all of your lines and notes drawn on and potentially still some pins in if you have added any fabric so it is a good idea to check that they are secure.

  • Lay out the Test Garment on a table and look at your marked alterations in the order that you numbered them if you did this. It is better to work through the alterations methodically and slowly, ticking off each alteration as you mark it back onto the Master Draft.

  • Ensure that each alteration is clearly marked on the garment and that you are sure why you made the decisions that you did, this helps when you transpose the markings onto the draft.

  • Check that where you have multiple lines that you have identified which one you need to use and that you have marked on the garment between each pin on both sides of the pinch as shown at the end of the last unit.

  • Ensure that each alteration is marked on both sides of the garment, left and right.

  • If it helps to take the Test Garment apart into Front and Back pieces then you might prefer to do that. Mostly I keep mine intact so I can see how the Back relates to the front.

  • Fitting for a Skirt or a Sleeve or any other Test Garment really requires the same observations as fitting a Base Template, how easily did the Test Garment sew up, were the seams the same length and did the notches match, are the Guidelines straight are the side seams in the correct position and straight, are there areas that are too tight and need seams opening up, are there areas that are two big and require pinning out, and also consider the length.

  • When fitting a Skirt or Dress you will need to check the length from the floor all the way around the garment, you can use a long ruler or yardstick for this. Even though your Draft may have an accurate length on Front and Back Draft the Base of the garment can hang differently when it is draped over a body. A larger bottom or belly or breasts can raise a hemline, so it is worth checking this during the fitting.

When learning what to look for in both fittings and alterations it helps to view actual photos. The photos shown are all from the G cup model used during fitting to give you some continuity here. It is a very good example of what I like to call a mashed up fitting and alteration so it covers a lot of changes to give you lots of ideas. It is a good example to show how the fitting will give you the opportunity to fix up most issues and it shows how you can make a decision then change your mind and try something out if you think it is going make the fit better.

So although the following instructions are not necessarily in the order that you did your alterations it makes sense to ensure that we cover the following;

  • Look at what you do to the draft if you have too much excess fabric in places on the Test Garment.

  • Look at what happens if you add in fabric on the Test Garment and how this relates to the draft.

  • Look at how to move Guidelines or Seams.

It is recommended to read this unit prior to altering your draft to familiarise yourself with certain techniques and decide where you would really like to start on your draft. You are going to see a kind of rhythm to the alterations which will help you move through your alterations more thoughtfully rather than initially trying to jump straight in.

A word of warning if you need to remove or add space internally in the draft because you have removed fabric or added excess fabric in the Test Garment then you may have to start cutting into your Master draft. Your Master draft is your baseline to come back to if you need to so it is not recommended to cut it up. Therefore you might want to decide if you are going to create a copy first before making any cuts, that way you always have your base line to come back to. Yes it is extra work but you have put in so much time to the draft at this point that it makes sense to secure that investment. Refer to Auxiliary Reference Information - Test Garment Creation - 3. Copying the Draft to remind you how to do this.

Moving Guidelines or Seams

On the Base Template the Guidelines are included and thread traced out on the Test Garment to give you a map to help navigate around the body and assist with the fitting. The Guidelines are for the Bust Line, Waist Line, Hip Bone Line, Lower Hip Line, the Cross Chest and Shoulder Blade. A seam can be positioned into any of these guidelines at any stage which would make more sense at the Flexible Pattern stage as part of a design however you can actually place a seam anywhere you like.

In the Base Template we have seams in the Waist Line and have Centre Front Bust Darts and there is also the Shoulder Seam. Also vertically in the Side Seams and the Princess Seam.

Any of these Guidelines/Seams may be transferred later to the Working Template and the Flexible Patterns so it is a good time at this stage to determine if you are happy with the positions of them. After the fitting you may have decided to move them.

You would make a draft adjustment if you have moved a Guideline/Seam, this would include;

  • Shifting the line of the seam forwards or backwards or up or down.

  • Changing the angle of the seam line for example altering the angle of the Shoulder Seam, covered later in this Unit.

  • Pinching out fabric on a seam or adding in fabric on a seam or outline (for example Armhole or Neckline), covered later in this Unit.

If all you are doing is shifting the line of the Guideline on the draft you can do this by working out from the Test Garment how far you wish to move it and redrawing the line on the draft then ensuring that the Guideline keeps its length accurately and that all Darts and outlines that are affected are redrawn.

For example both the Waist and the Hip Bone Line needed to be lowered on the draft Front and Back during the sample fitting. If extra or less length was required in the bodice then extra fabric would have been added or removed which would make this into a different kind of alteration covered later in this unit. However the length of this particular garment is appropriate and so the plan is not to change it but just to change the Guidelines.

Here you can see where the Waist is going to be lowered to.

You can see that the current position of the Waist is far too high and there is simply no space between the bottom of the Bust and where the Waist sits and as it is a larger bust it is taking up lots of this space. This area is looking a little short and dumpy, the proportions just don’t look right so the decision was made to move it down.​​

As the line drawn in red on the Test Garment was not drawn straight all the way around the position was measured at intervals to guage how much to drop the Waistline and a measurement was decided on. This measurement was transposed onto the draft and the new Waist Line drawn in. ​​

This is the Front Draft.

The Waistline needs to be the same length as before (unless an alteration has changed this) and the Waist Shaping and Waist Darts are redrawn along with the Side Outline. In this case extra paper was taped to the side to redraw the new Side Outline.

Remember that crossing off any incorrect lines will make it clear which lines you have decided on.


The Back Draft was also altered in the same way.

You can see in this photo the original Waist Line in pencil and the shifted Waistline in green on the Back Draft. However this photo also shows this alteration combined with a separate alteration to deal with excess fabric at the waist which is covered later in this unit. ​​

Using the same concept the Hip Bone line was moved down to keep everything in proportion.

Here is the Hip Bone Line on the Test Garment during the fitting.


The Hip Bone Line was moved down by the same amount on both the Front and Back Draft to keep it parallel to the floor taking care to keep the Hip Bone Line the correct length and redrawing the side outline if necessary. As shown here on the Front Draft. If you have either moved a seam backwards or forwards or a combination of both you can do this kind of alteration in the same way but vertically. By measuring the position of the drawn line on the Test Garment to work out how far away the new line is away from the original seam and write this measurement and indicate using an arrow the direction the line is moving on the Test Garment. You may need to measure up or down a seam to orientate the start and or end point of the deviation and write this measurement on the test garment indicating what the measurement is for using arrows. There are more examples of moving seams as you read through the Unit.

Remember to always compare both sides of the Test Garment because no doubt they will be a little different and assess which measurements you feel that you should use, it could be an average or the largest or the smallest measurement that you decide to use, a little design logic is needed here. If you just can’t make up your mind use the average measurements.

Find the corresponding seam on the draft and measure the key points and redraw the new position for both sides of the seam which may be Front and Back to indicate the changes that need to be made, you can do this freehand but I usually use a ruler to firm up the lines.

After altering seam positions and shapes you may need to check the size and position of Darts if the new lines go through them, check that they are where you need them to be for example centrally on a shoulder and check the width is still accurate and you may need to possibly redraw them or also redraw Outlines or Armhole or Necklines after any changes have been made.

If you have altered the bust point positions up or down or wider or closer together then you will need to check how far on the Test Garment you have moved them in order to map out the new position.

On the Front draft find the new Bust Point position by measuring and mark the new Bust Points. All Darts will need to be redrawn to this new position, Shoulder Dart, Armhole Dart, Side Dart and also the Lower Bust Point will need to be drawn in 1” below the Bust Point and the Waist Dart legs drawn to the Lower Bust Point. Draw the new Bust Line back to Centre Front and the side and don’t forget to remark the Bust line at this position onto the Back draft also. An example of this is shown later in the Unit when reviewing a Bust Adjustment.

Dealing with Excess Fabric

During fitting you will have pinched and pinned out any excess fabric and attempted to do this mostly in positions where you have seams or hidden darts by smoothing the fabric along. In a Base Template or Working Templates for woven fabrics you will have a number of dart/seam positions where it made sense to do this.

For any alteration the idea is to map out where the new lines are on the Test Garment by measuring their position in relation to key Seams and Guidelines and then transposing those measurements back to the draft.

For example;

A Dart

If you have excess fabric pinned out to add to a Dart on the draft you will need to.

  • Check it is pointing towards the mound.

  • Check that the alteration was pinned out on both sides of the body.

  • Check which Dart this refers to on the Draft.

  • Determine how wide the new Dart is at the widest part.

Here is a photo of an area that was pinned out on the Test Garment. Notice that is was pinned in the vicinity of where the current Armhole Dart is in the Base Template, all of the excess fabric was smoothed up and down to this position and pinned.

Lines were drawn between each of the pins on each side of the pinched out fabric as shown here with the Test Garment off the body.


This photo shows the pins removed leaving the marked lines in red and the width of the excess fabric in the Dart has be measured and written in green on the Test Garment.

You would now do the same on the other side of the garment and take the average measurement of the two (if you have any other logic to consider you may decide to take the smallest measurement or the largest measurement, for example you may have one breast slightly larger than the other in which case you may decide to choose the smallest measurement to allow the space for the largest breast).

It may be appropriate to measure the length of a pinned out dart or wedge if this is not in a usual position for a Dart and this will help you locate the end point on the draft. You may also require further measurements to determine height from a guideline or vertical position from a Seam. Although this is a less likely situation as most excess can be resolved by smoothing to a Seam or Dart. ​​

On the draft this excess width (average figure of both sides) is added to the current Armhole Dart by taking half of the measurement and extending the Dart Legs out and around the Armhole by that extra amount. The green lines here show the new position of the Dart Legs for this Dart after it has been increased in size by the appropriate amount and then redrawn.

For Seams

Where you have pinned out fabric on a seam the process is very similar you will map out the changes on one side, do the same on the other side, find the average and then draw the changes onto the draft.

Typical places you may do this are on the Side Seams, on the Back Waist Seam, on the Shoulder, under the Bust in the Princess Seam, in the Princess Seam to remove excess fabric on the Bust (this alteration is discussed in the ‘Adding Excess fabric’ section in Part 2 so is not repeated here) or it could happen in any other seam. These main examples are explained in the sample photos below.

Side Seam

During creation of the Test Garment it was noted that the sides outline at the Hip Bone line was not smooth but quite pointy which typically happens when making a Base Template. So it was not unexpected to see this in the side. Now this could have been smoothed out on the draft prior to fitting but I prefer to leave it and check on the fitting rather than guess.

Here you can see the ‘bubble’ pinned out on the side at the Hip Bone line.

Lines were drawn between each of the pins prior to removing the Test Garment from the body.

Much later in the fitting it was noticed that there was some strain at the low hip and the Test Garment kept riding up the body, this can indicate that things are too tight rather than just snug. Actually if you study the photo above you can see drag lines emanating from the tummy, which is a sign that a little more fabric is needed somewhere.

So the situation is too much fabric at the Hip Bone but too little fabric at the Lower Hip. The best way to deal with either of these alterations really is to open up the side seams and let the fabric go where it needs to with the help of gravity.

The excess fabric strip was pinned at the Hip Bone at the new position with the front piece sitting over the back, the red lines from the previous pins were aligned and pinned on top of each other to see what effect this had on the seam below rather than folding this excess to the back. You can experiment with the pinning to see what may happen if you let the fabric decide what it needs to do until you are happy with the choices.


This photo shows the front piece and the width of the excess has been measured from the original seam line, the alteration starts from the Waist and the position of where it aligns back to the original seam line is also measured from the Hip Bone Line, shown in green. ​​

On the draft the alteration for the excess that requires removing was dealt with at the same time as the alteration that adds in the extra fabric lower in the seam and the two alterations were joined and the side seam line smoothed out between the two alterations. This is good example of how one alteration can flow into another and where sometimes it makes logical sense to do them both at the same time. The rest of this alteration can be seen in Part 2. In the following photo you can see how the measurements defining the alteration are mapped onto the draft.

The new outline is drawn in accordingly, in this case coming in at 3/8” at the Hip Bone Line from the Waist to the end point defined 2” below the Hip Bone Line. However the photo below also shows the extension for the other alteration drawn in also.

Back Waist Seam

The Back Waist is shaped into the small of the back using the Waist shaping on the Base Template which is set at 3/8” on the Base Template but in fact this measurement is somewhat flexible as everyone is a different shape.

A body can substantially dip in at the lower back which could be because of good posture but is also called a sway back. The resulting appearance in a garment is pooling of folds of fabric in the small of the back either above or below the waist or on both sides. This surplus fabric can be very excessive for someone with a deep sway and is not flattering on a fitted garment it always looks like you need to pull down the hem to straighten it out.

Obviously this alteration could also be done on the Front Draft if required but the Back draft is a more usual position to have to do this.

Option 1 – If the Back is too long in the body then excess fabric can be pinned out across the whole of the Back by the same amount all the way across and this is a slightly different alteration to a sway back alteration. During fitting the excess fabric will have been smoothed down to the Waist seam and pinned and the lines drawn in between the pins. The position of the lines can be measured back to the Waist Line and marked back onto the Draft.

Now altering the length of the bodice can be done either at the Waist seam or above the Waist by defining a Cut Line as described later in this Unit. To be honest I don’t think there is much in it the result is the same really whichever you decide to use you will need to redraw the Darts the Waist Shaping and the Side Outline. Baring in mind fabric may need to be removed below the Waist in order to keep the Waistline level around the garment I think it is better to do the alteration on the actual Waist Seam for this adjustment.

For excess fabric above the Waist seam you would need to measure up the appropriate amount from the Waist for the amount that needs to be removed and draw a line all the way across the draft from Side Seam to Centre Back. Cut along the Waist line and retape in onto the new line drawn lining up the Centre Back and then redraw the Side Seam and the Dart.

The complexity with this alteration is what to do at the side seams because the Back draft is now shorter than the Front draft and this will need to be resolved. Usually there would be an adjustment needed at the front in this area which would mean extending the Front Dart in width to take up the extra in the Front Side seam going to nothing at the Bust Point.

If you still feel that excess fabric below the Waist Seam has not been dealt with and it is not going to help to remove it from above the Waist Line as this will raise the Waist Line then you could either do a sway back adjustment detailed below which may not deal with excess at the side seam or drop the draft below the Waist Shaping. You would do this by drawing a line horizontally across the draft from Side Seam to Centre Back around an inch below the Waist Shaping and then measuring another line below that for the amount you wish to remove, cutting along the top line from Side Seam to Centre Back and then taping the top piece back onto the bottom at the measured line, lining up the centre back and then redrawing the Side Seam and Dart.


Option 2 is a Sway Back adjustment where the majority of the excess is at the Centre Back going back to nothing at the sides much like a wedge has been pinned out as in this example. The first photo shows excess in the Back if you look at the horizontal folds of fabric below the Waist and there is excess fabric dipping into the body at the Waist although it is not clear to see in this photo, notice that you can’t actually see the sewn Waist Seam it seems to have disappeared.

The second photo shows the Waist Seam pinned out as a wedge at the Centre Back going to nothing at the sides so there is nothing to resolve on the Front.


This photo shows the markings after the pins have been removed and the measurements for the width of the alteration drawn on in green pen. This shows ½” required above and 3/8” required below. For a Sway Back adjustment I would always start by adding the amounts together and just removing the excess from the Waist Shaping below and do a test to see how that looks. ​​

This photo shows where the extra has been added onto the Waist Shaping changing it from the usual 3/8” to 1 2/8” in total required in this case, drawn in green.

Here is the same alteration with the Back Shaping redrawn to accommodate its width keeping the Back Shaping at 3/8” wide all the way down the Waist Shaping before angling down to the Centre Back. But on an extreme Sway Back sometimes this seems to not resolve the excess fabric above the Waist Seam and then excess needs to be taken out above the Waist Seam in which case I would experiment with drawing the line for the excess above the Waist Line from Centre Back level to the outside Dart Leg and then angling down to the Side Seam to reduce it to nothing and linking back up to the original Waist Line, this would give the Waist Shaping a mirror image above and below the Waist line. It does seem on the draft that this may affect the position of the Waist Line but it still usually looks straight on a body with this issue.

There are other more extensive ways to deal with Sway Back alterations that you could google but you should not have to do this if you follow the above instructions, I have tested it somewhat and have been happy with the results.

The complexity with a Sway Back is that for a good fit in a fitted garment you will always need to create a garment with a Waist Seam in the Back.

We need to keep in mind that after this alteration we still want the Waist to be parallel to the floor in the same position all the way around the body so it does not look like the garment is tilted when you look from the side.

Shoulder Seam

During the fitting process you may determine that the Shoulder Seam may be in an incorrect position, at the wrong angle or that excess needs to be taken out from the Front and or the Back to resolve excess fabric or gaping in the Armhole.

In a first fitting usually in the Shoulder Seam the Front is folded along the Seam Line with the Seam Allowance to the back and pinned to the Back Shoulder Seam along the Sewing Line. Which means that excess is not pinched out as it has been folded under. Unless you have decided to sew the Seam or are on a second or subsequent fitting and have pinched out the excess.

This photo shows a side view of the Shoulder Seam which during this fitting has been altered in position the angle has change and has extra fabric required in the Back but has an excess in the Front at this point in the fitting. The Shoulder seam can get a little bullied during fitting and might change position a number of times until you are satisfied.

This photo shows the resulting alteration requirement drawn in red for both the Front and the Back sides on the Shoulder Seams.

You can see that the Front side has ½” excess at Shoulder End in this photo and the Back requires 2/8” extra at the High Shoulder Point. ​​

The amount is defined on the Front Draft and the new line for the Shoulder Seam is drawn.

The position of the Shoulder Dart is checked and redrawn if necessary and then the Dart can be trued.


The Back Draft is altered in the same way with the Back marked out.


Then the Shoulder Line drawn.

The Dart position is checked to ensure it is still central.

Then the Dart is redrawn.


The Dart is finally trued. ​​

As you work on each alteration tick them off on the Test Garment.

Under the Bust in the Princess Seam This adjustment is a special adjustment made in the Dart and can actually be made in any Dart to get a closer fit for example in the Shoulder Dart to get the garment closer to the body as some shapes are a little hollow at this point. The Waist Dart has been taken up into the Princess Seam in the Base template and so it is cut out and invisible in the Test Garment but we know that we have it on the draft to play with.

You are not increasing the width at the base of the Dart rather you are bowing out the legs of the Dart to pinch a little extra to get a closer fit. Under the bust this may be required to get a closer fit to the body to accentuate the bust for a corset or a strapless garment that needs to be a very close fit to help it stay in position. How close you need to get is dependent on the client and the type of clothes they will need. By setting a close fit on the Base Template with the bowed out Darts you will always have this as an option. Obviously then it would be up to garment design and personal choice as to whether you would use them or not. Keep in mind thought that the alteration for this Dart cannot be used to hold the breast up. Breast support is not the job of the garment it is the job of the under ware (although a corset is obviously a different matter).

In this photo you can see where some excess under a large G Cup bust on one side has been pinned out, however this has not been fitted too tightly to the body. The larger the bust the bigger the bowed out darts will need to be. Incidentally in this photo you can see the outline of the breasts which is not flattering, later during the fitting the Princess Seams were opened up to allow excess fabric to be added. So this is another example where 1 alteration flows down into an alteration that requires the opposite treatment, excess fabric required leading to excess fabric requiring to be removed.

The excess is shown here drawn on the Test Garment and the measurement at the widest point from the Princess Line to the green bowed line on either side (not shown), the measurement shown has been measured up from the current Waist Line to show where the excess comes back into line with the Princess Seam. These figures would then need to be compared to the 2 measurements on the other side of the garment and a decision made as to an average figure or which measurement will be used on either side of each Dart.

The following photo shows the Waist Dart with the approximate measurement marked either side of the Dart Legs for the extra width needed. The Darts were then redrawn using the French Curve from tip to base hitting the measured out width on either side to create a bowed out line, shown in Blue. To get the same curve on either side take note on the measurement on the ruler for the starting point of the curve then once drawn flip the ruler over and line up the starting point to the same measurement. There are a few lines here so it is starting to get very busy so you can see how important it is to be clear which lines you have settled for on the draft.

Other Possibilities for Dealing with Excess Fabric You may have an occasion where you have pinned out fabric not in a Seam or a Dart as it is not possible to shift the fabric into a Seam or a Dart.

This could happen for example across the chest from side to side or across the Shoulder Blades on the Back.

Here is a comprehensive way to remove paper from a draft to mirror any fabric that you pinned out in the Test Garment if you are cutting out a strip across the draft horizontally or vertically not in a Seam.

For the purposes of this explanation a sample copy of a Base Template has been drawn out.

From the location measurements you have made on the Test Garment decide where the Cut Line is going to be, and if there is no existing line then draw the line on the draft across the length or width of the draft ensuring that the Cut Line is squared up to any key guidelines such as the Waist or the Centre Front/Back.


In this example a Cut Line has been drawn in 2” above the Waist.

Draw a line squared off and perpendicular to the new Cut Line drawn around 4” in length with 2” either side, this is going to be a guideline to help you reposition the two pieces back together again.


Then cut along the Cut Line all the way across the Draft.

Measure the position for the reduction in length shown in green here.

Lastly reposition the bottom part lining up the guidelines to get the piece in the correct position and this would be taped in place. All outlines and Darts affected would require redrawing.

You will need to determine if this reduction is to be dealt with on both the Front and the Back Drafts.

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