There are lots of problems with the fit of commercially made garments, these are things that if you’re making the garment you can alter out of the pattern.
But before you buy, make sure these are not problems built into the garment for you. There are some common issues with fit that are reasonably easy to avoid.
Most Common Issues with Fit
Pants/Trousers are one of the hardest garments to fit as there are so many fit points and women’s bodies are so uniquely shaped. Creasing at the crotch can either mean there is not enough fabric (pulling) or if there is a big pouch of fabric at the crotch, then the rise is too long (can’t be fixed).
Sleeves should end at the wrist, not halfway down the hand (it makes you look like you haven’t yet grown into your clothing).
Waistbands should fit so you can slide two fingers between your flesh and the garment, too lose or too tight and you won’t get a nice line (and it won’t be comfortable either!).
Busts are the other tricky fit point for many women.
If you have a top that has a horizontal seam across the front it should either sit just under the bust or at the waist, never across the bust (this is a particularly common problem if you have a large bust.
Shirt buttons shouldn’t pull or gape, particularly across either the bust or stomach. If they do the shirt is too small and you need to go up a size and potentially have the shirt altered to fit your shoulders or waist.
I often get the crotch creasing problem. Do you mean that the cause is that the seat is too tight?
Amber – yes, if you get the crotch creasing it's because there isn't enough fabric in the seat for you (the rise has been cut too wide for your shape).
The whole empire line going across the middle of the bust (as opposed to its rightful spot underneath it) just drives me bonkers. It's one of the worst fashion errors around. Not flattering on anyone…
I get the crotch creasing problem all the time when I go jeans shopping. My legs are so short, and when I'm at departments stores and places where the short variety is lacking, it's so annoying that I have to size up for my hips while the pant legs are still fully enveloping my feet. Good thing I can sew well enough to hem them, but how about showing some more petite love, Kohl's?
Fit is something I am obsessed about. I make clothes to order and I see every ill-fitting garment in the crowd…
Thanks, Imogen, but I'm still a bit confused! I think of the rise as going up and down, what is a too-wide rise? If there's not enough room for the rear, I would think the pant is too narrow? In other words, if I'm in the shops and I try on a pair that's creasing in front on my A-shape, how should the next pair I pick up differ from the one that didn't work? Should the rise be taller in the back? Or is it the rise to cheek-width ratio? Help!
Hi Imogen – speaking of badly cut garments – do you think we can look forward to some sort of updated, standard clothing sizes in Australia – it's a real mess out there!
I wish more clothes were treated like men's suits, where they don't even do the hem and do many alterations as part of the sale. Ordering something to be made from scratch runs the risk of not liking the result sometimes.
At least knits fit more easily, most of my tops are knits.
– tall & slim anon
I always have trouble finding long enough sleaves. They all seem to be that crucial bit too short. I've finally given up, and just change them all to 3/4 sleaves. I'd love long sleaves, but not at the expense of fit.
Oy, I have that "smiling crotch" problem in almost all pants.
I'm with K.Line; under-bust seams that are Not UNDER the bust are very, very bad.
Thank you for this post!
Thank you for the simple tip with the see-through-pockets. I owen one white skirt and light-coloured camouflage pants where you can see through the pockets. I never would have come up with the idea, very useful!
What does it mean when tops bunch/crease slightly at the waist, but only from the back?
Does it mean it's too short/long, or too tight in general?
Thanks so much, your blog has been incredibly useful!
I've had problems with certain tops bunching in the back, too. What's up with that? My guess is that it means there's a problem with the cut of the garment, like when once in a while you see a garment with sleeves long enough to fit an ape. Most garments I buy fit correctly, so…
Thanks for answering my question so quickly, Imogen. I somewhat suspected that, for me, the bunching was a length issue. I have a short waist and a long rise.
As far as alterations go, I'm not sure that's an easy fix. My mother was a professional seamstress, and she didn't ever bother to alter anything that bunched like that. Then again, like I said, the problem rarely comes up… perhaps because I generally stick to the same style tops… the ones I know will fit. LOL!
Again, thanks! 🙂
Hello, I’ve already made 2 pairs of shorts (practice) and they both have the same problem; bunching up in the front crotch when i walk. I couldn’t figure out what the problem is. I am disappointed 🙁 Thanks.
Get a pair of pants that fit you well in the crotch area. Turn them inside out and put one leg through the other so you can trace the shape of the rise and use this as a template for your shorts.
My solution for getting pants that fit properly on my short-waisted but slightly longer legged petite form was to adopt “skinny jeans” or ponte pants.The form fitting style in a stretch fabric eliminates bunching, creases, and pockets, except for the flat pockets in the rear, even on my “8” figure. I still need to alter the hem a bit, either up or down, and have had to take in the sides or crotch area only slightly for some styles. I’m a huge fan of alterations, especially since following your blog. Since I can sew, I do my own.
My arms seem to be too long for most sleeves. It bothers me in jackets, blazers, and cardigans when I look like I am wearing a jacket that is too small or I buy a tall size and the jacket is to long. Any suggestions?
That’s tricky. It may be worth investigating different brands to see if some make longer sleeves (some will). Alternatively how do you feel about 3/4 sleeves? By making a sleeve 3/4 then it looks purposeful not ill fitting.
Do you think a 3/4 sleeve would look good on a blazer or suit jacket? I usually try to push them up and of course they don’t stay where I put them. I have a short torso and long legs and I feel most comfortable with the 3/4 sleeve.
You can buy 3/4 sleeve jackets and blazers so I don’t see why not. The other option is to push up the sleeves so you don’t notice they are a bit short
I often have a problem of creases in my shirt on the sides of my body under my breasts due to the shirt being too big in that area. I have a relatively short but tiny waist and my boobs are average to big (size 8E). Would you know the exact cause of the creasing in this area?
Also, do you know a good webshop in Australia (I just moved here) where they sell bras small in band size and big in cup?
I would suggest getting some additional darts added into your shirts to take out the volume – it’s just the difference of the amount of fabric needed to go over your bust and then there is too much for your smaller waist. I don’t know of any good Australian mailorder bra websites- I have bought from Bravissimo in the UK who deliver here.