Many of you have asked for a tutorial on the swayback adjustment. This is how I do this alteration on nearly all of my dresses and it results in a smooth back, making my dresses look good coming and going. This is a fitting adjustment that I’ve only been doing a couple of years as I’ve spent more time focusing on fitting my figure and making my clothing fit me better.
What is it?
This type of swayback adjustment is basically a tuck in the fabric that takes out a wedge in the back of the garment that has caused a back wrinkle.
Why do I need it?
If you’re curvy and blessed with a larger bum or your back inverts a little, your back waist measurement will most likely be a little higher than the front. This means that the front of your garment will hang nicely, while the back will have some pooling due to excess fabric. You will not only have wrinkles, but also a zipper that doesn’t sit flat on your back. My back inverts with some “padding” below my waist and this adjustment fixes my issues with excess fabric.
How do I do it?
This is a quick and easy adjustment on a simple bodice back of a dress. First, either make a muslin of a pattern or examine an existing garment that you’ve sewn to figure out how much of an adjustment you need. You’re probably going to need help with this, but you can definitely do it on your own with experimentation.
- Pattern piece
- Ruler/seam gauge/measuring tape
- Pins or tape
Start out by laying out your bodice back pattern piece. Next, begin folding at the center back, taking a tuck in your needed amount. Pin or tape the tuck into place and crease the tissue down, tapering to the side of the bodice piece. You may need to move your tuck higher or lower than where I’ve positioned mine.
The tuck should taper to the side and disappear, as you want your back and front bodice pieces to be the same on the sides where they connect.
I usually just tape the tuck on the tissue paper, but it’s less permanent if you pin it. After I’m done, I will draw a new dart line with my ruler (not demonstrated here), starting at the point and angling down.
For a princess seamed bodice, I pin the two back tissue pieces together at the stitching line and do the same tuck that I did to the above bodice back piece. For a sheath or shift or another dress with one pattern piece for the back, I figure out where my waistline is on the pattern and do the same tuck above it. I have not tried a swayback adjustment on a skirt nor a pair of pants. The only patterns that I’ve found that I haven’t had to do a swayback adjustment is with Cashmerette Patterns, where this adjustment is built into the patterns.