Fun With Fit- Part 1: an introduction and gather your supplies

Hello and welcome to Fun with Fit!

Contrary to my tongue in cheek title and illustration, fit is a serious business in a dressmakers world. A well fitting garment is flattering and comfortable to wear but not always very easy to achieve. It can be quite tricky to pin point what exactly  is causing a garment to feel so uncomfortable under the arm or look funny at the lower back and it is easy to attribute it to the wrong thing and make the wrong adjustments.

In this blog series I am going to help you learn how to identify and address your own fitting requirements so that you can alter patterns to fit your own body shape and proportions.

To do this we will be working our way through the Butterick fitting shell/ sloper pattern B5627. A fitting shell is essentially a block with seam allowances. A block is the most basic of all sewing patterns, it has purely functional darts and seams which fit it to the body.  All dress patterns are developed from blocks, each fashion brand and pattern company will be working from standard blocks to create all their garment patterns. By fitting this Butterick sloper to your personal proportions you will establish which adjustments you need to make to more complex sewing patterns in future.

In addition to this you will end up with a fitting shell/ sloper pattern that fits you. Trace this onto cardboard and remove the seam allowances and you will have your own, well fitting block which is the first step in drafting your own sewing patterns.

Even though you won’t have a pretty garment at the end like you would  from other sew-alongs I think you will be very pleased with the way our rather ugly, pen and pencil covered one fits! 😉 Just don’t plan on wearing it to anything other than a halloween party!

Are you in?

If so, you will need to gather up the following supplies:

Fun with Fit supplies


Butterick B5627 Fitting Shell/ Sloper: these patterns are not multi-sized so you need to take your bust, waist and hip measurements before purchasing one. DO NOT go by the dress size listed based on what you buy from the shops as they will likely be a good dress size or two different.  Annoyingly no website selling it seems to have the sizing chart listed so I have popped and image of it at the bottom of the post for anyone who wants to order the pattern online.

To take your measurements wear well fitting underwear and nothing more than a tight fitting vest and leggings (ideally just bra and knickers). Make sure the tape measure stays parallel to the floor for its entire circumference. If at all possible employ the help of someone else so that you can remain standing straight and still. Do not breathe in or pull the tape measure too tight, it should be flat against your skin but with no perceptible pressure.


The waist and hips are easy to adjust so it is more important that you start with a fitting shell size close to your upper body/ chest size. SO if you are a size 10 on the bust and a 14 on the waist and hips buy a size 10 sloper pattern and we will adjust the waist and hips.

HOW DOES MY CUP SIZE EFFECT THINGS?: The Butterick fitting shell is drafted with a B cup and we will be covering small and large bust adjustments. If you have a larger or smaller cup size then you are better off going for a pattern size that is in keeping with your back and general upper body frame size. We are aiming to begin with a sloper that fits nicely across the back and upper chest. There is a simple way for you to work out whether your cup size is about to make you order the wrong sloper size.

1: Measure your upper chest. To do this measure you circumference just below your armpits. Like when taking a bust measurement make sure you keep the tape measure parallel to the floor and don’t pull it tightly. The butterick pattern’s circumference is 2cm smaller at upper chest than at bust level. Take 2cm off the bust measurement of the pattern you are about to buy and compare this to your own upper chest measurement to make sure they are similar. If they are not then go with the pattern size that has a bust measurement 2cm bigger than your upper chest and we will work through the small or large bust adjustment that is required.

Anu questions on this please leave me a comment below 🙂

If you have another brand of fitting shell at home you can use that but I will be referring to the Butterick specifics.

Large sheets or a roll of thin paper: kitchen greaseproof or flip chart paper can both be good options here. This is so you can make a tracing of your fitting shell to apply your adjustments to. Never alter original patterns, that way if you make a mistake you will still have your original untouched pattern to refer back to/ begin again with.

Calico or medium weight unpatterned fabric: Part of our fitting process will involve drawing horizontal lines at various places on our fabric and assessing them when our fitting shell is on the body so you really don’t want any pattern on your fabric as it will make this process far less clear. Make sure your fabric isn’t too light weight and that it has a good close weave as it is very important that it doesn’t get stretched out as you are working with it. A medium weight calico is ideal here, it is also nice and inexpensive.

Bright felt tip pens or markers: these are for making markings on your fabric, the brighter the better but nothing too chunky. I like Sharpies but beware they are permanent and do soak through fabric!

Ruler or Patternmaster 

Notebook: for jotting down your measurements and other notes about the steps you take along the way.

The following regular sewing supplies:

Tape Measure

Sewing Machine


Sewing Thread

Fabric scissors large

Embroidery/small scissors or seam ripper

Pins (lots of them!)


I hope you are looking forward to getting stuck in! Next time we will cut out our fabric, mark it up and begin the fitting process! 🙂

Thanks for reading

5627 size chart
Butterick B5627 sizing chart



58 responses to “Fun With Fit- Part 1: an introduction and gather your supplies”

  1. I’m really excited about this series Ami. I actually got a book for Christmas to draft my own blocks from my measurements so won’t be following exactly but will be keeping a keen eye on your fitting tips for when I’ve made up muslins from my blocks!

  2. I would like to join in with this but am unsure what size pattern I would buy. What do you if you are the size 12 for bust, but say size 14 for hips and waist? Thanks Ami

    • Hi Claire, that is a very good question that I probably should have mentioned in the post….oops!
      The hardest areas of the body to fit are the shoulders, upper back and chest and bust so go with the pattern size that most closely matches your upper body. I will cover adding size to the waist and hips and the sloper makes this really easy as it has giant seam allowances to give you plenty of scope for alterations. Any extra room necessary on top of these big seam allowances we will cover by slashing and inserting extra fabric. Hope this helps 🙂

  3. I’m keen to join this too but I was wondering what size you should buy if you have a small bust. My bust measurements put me at a 6 but my waist and hip are closer to a 10. I think I have wide-ish shoulders as well. Thanks

    • Hi Taz, the butterick pattern is drafted for a B cup so if you are an A or AA cup then I would go for the size 8 which will probably fit your back better and you can follow the instruction for the small bust adjustment the week that we cover that. Alternatively if you are a B cup then go for the 6. The butterick front and back pattern pieces measure nearly the same at bust level so you could always pop a tight stretchy vest on and make sure it’s side seams are positioned correctly on your body- as in not too far forward or too far towards your back and compare the measurement of your front from side seam to side seam to that of your back side seam to side seam. If they are nearly equal then go for the size 6, if they aren’t and your back measures a bit more than your front go for the 8.
      Don’t worry about the waist and hips as I will be showing people how to increase or decrease these areas before even cutting the fabric out. They are much easier to correct than the upper body. The shoulders can be addressed with a broad shoulder adjustment which we will cover too.
      Hope that makes sense, please let me know if you need any further clarification 🙂

  4. I’m really looking forward to following along! I’ve had some major issues trying to fit a bodice sloper before, so I’m very excited!

      • I believe so. I’m a G-cup, so I usually start with the 16 (who’s bust measurement corresponds to m High Bust), however, I think the shoulder area still tends to need a bit of finagling.

  5. Hi, thank you for hosting this, I have made clothes for my children and really want to start for me but I am plus size so struggle with getting patterns to fit and working out what will work for me, my bust size is 46 is there any point getting the size 22 and trying to join in or will that be adjusting things too much, thanks.

  6. What a brilliant idea for a sew-along. I’ve resolved not to make any more dresses for a while as I have too many and don’t wear them all – probably because I should have made a sloper first so that they fit better 😉 If you had done one for a skirt, I would have joined in. However I will still read along with your posts and, once I get my mojo back for dresses, I’m sure I will follow along retrospectively. Also, I’ve lost quite a bit of weight recently and want to make sure I’m going to stay the same size before embarking on such a project.
    Thanks for doing this.

    • Ah yep- def don’t want to go to too much fitting effort and then change size! I have done that myself and its very frustrating!!
      No need to follow along as like you say you can always dip in and out reading bits later on 🙂

  7. Hi Ami,
    I really want to join you on your new venture, could you tell me where I could get hold of the pattern? Having difficulty finding one online….(I’m very old….lol)

    • Hi Anna, I will be posting the next installment next Thursday but all the posts will remain on the blog for people to read as and when they can so don’t panic if you haven’t got things by then 🙂

  8. I really enjoyed this post. I will be keeping up with all your details and try to apply them to vogue shell pattern. I’ve taken 2 online classes on fitting and they both have different methods so I look forward to reading your way of fitting. Thanks!

    • I am sure that will be fine Joanna- especially if you have delved into fitting twice before. My method is a concoction of all the things I have learnt along the years that have helped me- hopefully it will help other people too! 🙂

    • Hi Susie, nope you will want to get the size 12 as it is much much easier to adjust the waist and hips up than it is to adjust the back and upper chest down. I will be covering adding size to the waist and hips beofore you even cut out your fabric 🙂

      • Thank you!

        Wow! I would’ve thought adjusting down a size would’ve bern easier. Already learned something new. Looking forward to learning how it’s all done.

  9. This is a great idea. I’m in the middle of sewing an Anna dress at the moment but will definitely be starting this once that’s finished!

  10. Hi Amelia, I should have checked this before I ordered the pattern (too excited!!) if my upper bust measurement is 95cm and bust is 101cm is size 16 the right size to get?

  11. Just bought the pattern. I am really looking forward to this sew-a-long and learning as much as I can so I can sew my own clothes!

  12. Hi Amelia,
    My upper chest is 31 1/2 and my bust is 33. I am a B cup. Not sure if I should purchase size 8 or 10. Thank you so much for your help. – Susan

  13. Hi Amelia,
    I am having difficulty choosing my pattern size.
    My underarm measure 36 inches.
    Bust measures 39 inches.
    Waist measures 32inches.
    Hips measure 38 inches.
    Please can you help.

  14. Long-time lurker here – but super excited to join in this.
    Late to the party (as usual) but I’ll trail along behind (maybe learn from everyone else’s issues as well!) Pattern ordered and on way. Thanks for this 🙂

  15. Hi Amelia,

    Thanks for doing this! I seem to have so many fitting issues. Anyway, I’m in California, so forgive my metric math. I have a 36″ (91.44 cm) upper chest and 37″ (93.98 cm) bust. I’m approximately a B cup. Not sure whether to get a 14 or 16.


  16. Hi Amelia,
    I’m joining this super late as I only just found your blog. dress making is a fairly new hobby for me, and something I’ve gotten into precisely because I struggle to get a good fit in high street clothes. My slightly weird measurements are: high bust 92cm, full bust 108 cm, waist 86cm, hips 108 cm…. So a size 14 pattern due to high bust measurement??? Thanks jo

  17. Actually I forgot to take off 2 cm for their B cup so maybe a 16. It might even out my supposedly size 20 waist measurement!!! ( I’d buy 14 on the high street)

  18. Hello! I’m uncertain which size to buy as I’m 93cm high bust and 100cm full bust (GG cup). Hips and waist size 18 on the chart. Thank you for your help.

  19. Hi Ami, Where do you normally buy your paper roll from and under what name? I know you have written about it before, but I can’t seem to find that post.
    I’m a little late to the party… 🙂
    I’m off to get some Sharpies.
    I hope you are well!
    Many thanks!

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