Fit Issues – Bunching at the Back


One of my readers commented on a post about common issues with fit:

I’ve had problems with certain tops bunching in the back, too. What’s up with that? 

Most bunching comes from your body shape being not related to the shape that the garment was cut for.  Too much fabric in an area that doesn’t have the:

  1. flesh to fill it out
  2. length to let it hang without bunching

Bunching fabric on tops
This is often created when someone has either a sway back, so the fabric can’t fall straight over the derrière, instead it appears to bunch around the waist.

Or it can happen when you are very short waisted (or they cut the garment for someone who is very long waisted) and so there is too much fabric for the area that it was designed to cover.

You may be able to put darts in the garment at the back to get rid of the excess fabric, or possibly shorten the hem, depending on why the fabric is bunching.

Bunching fabric on bottoms
Trousers that end up with a bunch of fabric just underneath your bum is really common with flat bottomed girls.   The rise is cut with too much fabric and we just don’t have the  curves to fill it out.  This is very hard to fix in an already constructed garment, more possible if making from scratch.  I find that apart from jeans, which I buy with a good level of stretch, I pretty much wear skirts and dresses so that the bunching issue is not a problem

Would any of you sewers out there like to leave comments on how best to fix either/both of these bunching issues?


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  • Ah, no. I have a round butt and all pants crawl up my butt. Someone in a blog somewhere referred to it as having a C cup butt and pants are made for B cup butts. In your case, it's an A cup in a B cup pant. I'd love to find a solution too!

  • Robin – I find that garment manufacturers for the more mature figure tend to make pants with fuller seats – in Australia that's Anthea Crawford, Perri Cutten, Carla Zampatti etc. Pants are notoriously hard to fit and I find that many of my clients find it better to have them tailor made (which often isn't as expensive as you'd think).

  • I would advise not to buy clothing that bunches, it's a problem hard to correct by tailoring after the fact and not during construction, especially pants. If you have a sway back and a top bunches, chances will be better to have it corrected if it has a center back seam. Often, particular brands have particular style AND particular fit i.e. suit some body types better than others. Over the years, I learned to know what fits me best and barely buy from the others. Esprit pants, for example, are rather made for a boyish figure. But my curvier self loooves all pants and jeans from the canadian brand Parasuco.

  • Imogen, I think you explained the fitting issue quite well.
    The very reason I sew for myself is that I carry height in the area between bustline and neckline and nothing from the stores fit unless they are made from stretch material. I bet stretch material is the number #1 solution for most fit problems. You are 100% correct that having pants custom made can be the best solution. When I did not have time to sew my own clothes, I went to a local tailor for pants and paid $150 US per pair. That really is not a bad price for well made pants in excellent quality fabric. (After 7 years they are still going strong).

  • Hi Imogen,

    I recently discovered a similar, but opposite problem: fitted or sheath dresses that are cut too short for a long-waisted woman. I tried on a cute dress at H&M last week, but it was clear that the "butt" part of the dress was a couple of inches above my own hips, and there was extra fabric bulging out around my lower back.
    Is this something a tailor could quickly fix? Or do I have to keep searching for the perfect dress?

  • Robin – a classic pant won't necessarily look matronly (fortunately) is worth considering.

    Lin3arossa – thanks for your tip.

    A little sewing – see how reasonable a pair of pants made for you can be? And how much better they last and that you get your wear from them!

    I think that's why so many of us spend our life in stretch fabrics, just so much easier to fit!

    TB – unfortunately if a garment is too short (so the butt is too high) you can't do anything about it, your proportions are obviously different from the garment manufacturers (which is COMPLETELY NORMAL).

  • I have the same problem with bunching. Dresses and tops fall straight from my bosom in front, but hit my "high hips" in back and just puddle. The garment needs to be smaller at the waist and fuller at the hips, but just in back (Think "bustle").
    I don't see how vertical darts are going to fix this on an existing garment, but if the bodice and skirt of a dress are sewn together at the waistline, you can shorten the bodice in back a little. On sleeveless dresses, I've also had the bodice in back pulled UP and the excess taken in at the shoulder seam–usually less than an inch. This pulls the waistline up to the right level, and usually doesn't affect the rest of the garment significantly.
    If these solutions don't work, you can also try adding a horizontal back dart in some garments.

  • You know, girls with proportionally curvier bottoms may also have bunching below the rear of their pants. The reason for that is that when you buy the pants to fit your rear, there is more space in the thigh below the rear than you need because you have more of a curve than the space allotted by the pants. I hope this picture helps:

    If you get the pants big, they’re too big everywhere but the rear. If you get them too small, you get “butt squishers”…if you can get the pants up at all.

  • Recently I’ve been trying a pair of trouser jeans, they fit nice from the front but I’m not sure how they should fit from the back: should they curve under the buttocks and fit snuggly around this area (what I think would be more attractive) or should they fall straight from the bottom as classic trousers?

  • This article and the comments are very helpful in understanding why I have so many fit issues. In fact, I was debating what to do with a particular shirt just this evening. It’s a button down 2p yet still manages to billow out in the back. I’m quite limited on funds and quake at what the alterations might cost. The shirt was thrifted, so I don’t have a large investment in it. Now I’m wondering if I have a sway back!
    I have the same problem with pants bubbling under my rear, and I’m definitely not flat-ended. I think it may be from the comparatively large size of my rear to smaller thighs? It winds up as the rather unfashionable saggy butt look.
    I’m really trying to move away from stretch fabrics to all cotton, so while my stretch pants may fit better, I’d really like to find an all cotton pair that doesn’t bubble. I fear they may not exist.
    But thanks to all for the insight.

  • Although I’m of average height, I’m short waisted and most fitted tops bunch at the back on me, even if it’s in my correct size. For years I’ve wondered why this was but now I know it’s because the “waist” part of most tops are tailored for longer waisted women and fall below where my natural waist is. It then creeps up into my waist so I have all this fabric and extra bunching in the back.

    To remedy this, I buy a size up and tailor it to fit my proportion. That means giving it a new “waist” area. I get the best result with stretchable fabrics. I sew so I do most of my own tailoring. Of course when I size up, it also means I have to take in the sleeves a bit but only if they end up being too big. I also shorten the hem. So far I’ve had really good results doing it this way. For harder projects, I bring it to a tailor.

  • For all your various fit issues you could try consulting FABULOUS FIT by Judith Rasband (available Amazon ).
    There are lots of fit problems considered and solutions offered. The book is for home sewers but the info is relevant to all of us with multiple fit issues!!!
    It helps to see what is possible and when a garment is a lost cause!

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