Tutorial

Tutorial: How to remove a back pleat and do a swayback adjustment

Welcome to Part 3 of my Archer adjustments.  This post is “coming home” from the Sew the Show blog.

***********************

Creative Counselor: How to remove a back pleat and do a swayback adjustment

Thanks for joining me for part 3 of my Archer adjustments!  You can find Part 1 (the FBA on a dartless pattern) here, and Part 2 (the sloping shoulder adjustment) here.

Today’s installment is mostly aesthetic on this pattern.  The Archer is drafted with a back pleat, so if I was having issues with the pattern fitting over my hips and bum, I could easily have added an inch or two to the pleat and that would have solved the problem.

But where’s the fun in that??

I was strolling around J Crew a couple of weeks ago in a rare moment on the Plaza without children and found myself admiring their collection of flannel button downs.

They had an impressive collection and the quality looked really nice (if you’re not inclined to make a flannel button down, check them out!).  As usual, I found myself examining the construction and techniques used in the garments.  They had a number of shirts with a back pleat and some with a single back piece sans pleat.  But the look I liked the most was the shirts with a center, flat-felled back seam.

I knew that this was the look I wanted in my flannel Archer.  An added plus — the center back seam would accommodate my swayback adjustment quite nicely!

So the task: Remove the pleat in the back piece of the Archer and adjust to accommodate my swayback.

Step 1: Remove the back pleat.

Sounds simple — just line up the pattern piece at the beginning of the pleat on the fold of the pattern, right?  Wrong.

The thing about the back pleat is that while we want to remove the excess fabric in the pleat at the top of the pattern piece, we still need that width in the hips.  If you doubt me, try it.  I actually did, just to be sure, and without those extra two inches at the hip, I could barely get my muslin closed over my hips!

Creative Counselor: How to remove a back pleat and do a swayback adjustment
I traced a new back piece to work with.

So we can’t just cut trim an inch or so off our pattern piece all the way down.  We need to taper it.

The pleat is nicely marked on the pattern piece, so we know the amount that needs to be removed from the top of the piece.  Start there and draw a long diagonal line down from the inside of the pleat down to the edge of the hemline.  That removes the most fabric up top, tapering to nothing at the bottom.

Creative Counselor: How to remove a back pleat and do a swayback adjustment

Step 2: Add a seam allowance.

The Archer back piece is drafted on the fold, and we’re adding a back seam.  That means that we need seam allowances.

Creative Counselor: How to remove a back pleat and do a swayback adjustment

I planned to use a flat-felling method that requires a 3/8 inch seam allowance, so that’s the seam allowance I added to my pattern piece.  In the photo, the blue line is my stitching line and the red line is my seam allowance.

Step 3: Make a “quick and dirty” muslin.

Yes, we all detest making muslins, but you really need to make one here.  It’s an unfortunate reality of sewing that if you want nicely-fitting clothes, you need to get used to making muslins.

So do a quick muslin — you only need the front pieces, yoke and back piece.  Don’t bother with sleeves for this muslin.

Step 4: Pinch the excess out of the back seam of your muslin.

So far the back piece we drafted had a straight seam at the center back.  But if your body is like mine, it’s not a straight line from your mid-back to below your bum.  I, like many women, have a swayback, so I need to adjust that center back seam to avoid wrinkling at the small of my back.

Put the muslin on and pinch out the wrinkles at the center back.  I pinned the chunk of fabric that I pinched out so I could mark it when I took the muslin off.

Creative Counselor: How to remove a back pleat and do a swayback adjustment

Step 5: Mark the new center back seam.

Lay out your muslin and trace along the dart you just pinched out of the center back seam.  Transfer the new center back to your pattern piece.

Creative Counselor: How to remove a back pleat and do a swayback adjustment

Creative Counselor: How to remove a back pleat and do a swayback adjustment
The pencil is the new sew line.

Step 6: Add seam allowance.

The curve that you marked is your stitching line so once again you need to add seam allowance.  I’m using 3/8″ so I added that to the modified version of my back seam.

Creative Counselor: How to remove a back pleat and do a swayback adjustment

Creative Counselor: How to remove a back pleat and do a swayback adjustment

And that’s it!  So much shorter than the sloping shoulder adjustment, amiright?  You now have a new back piece without a pleat, the same width at the hip and adjusted to fit nicely over your bum without wrinkles.

Creative Counselor: How to remove a back pleat and do a swayback adjustment

The bust fits, the shoulder fits, and the back fits — now go sew up some Archers!