Today, I’m going to go over a simple pattern adjustment that can give you a little more room in the tummy area of a skirt or pants: a Full Tummy Adjustment. A Full Tummy Adjustment simply adds a little bit of ease through the tummy area of a garment.
Although there are several different ways to perform a Full Tummy Adjustment that you can find in different fitting books and sewing tutorials, I prefer Kathleen Cheetham’s method. Kathleen’s method has several advantages over other methods:
- Adding both length and width over a full tummy
- Having some control over where you add the additional ease for this adjustment
- Being fly front and pocket-friendly (some Full Tummy Adjustment methods assume that you’re working with a simple, darted, flat front with no pockets)
How do I know if I need a full tummy adjustment?
You can fairly easily diagnose if a Full Tummy Adjustment will help improve the fit of your pants or skirt. If your garment is doing any of the following things, you might find it beneficial to do a Full Tummy Adjustment to your pattern pieces:
- Showing upwards-pointing “smile lines” through the crotch area
- Pockets gaping
- Straining or pulling at a fly-front zipper
To illustrate these points, the following photo shows a pant muslin that I made where you can clearly see the “smile lines” that I was talking about and pocket gape:
Pattern alteration for a Full Tummy Adjustment
To alter your paper pattern pieces to give you more ease through the tummy area:
- Prep your main pattern piece, if your pant or skirt pattern has pockets:
- If your pant or skirt pattern has pockets, trace the outline of the pockets onto the main pattern piece. This step makes it easier to transfer any necessary changes to your actual pocket pattern pieces at the end.
- If your pant or skirt pattern has a fly front with a fly extension, fold the fly extension back out of the way. This step both keeps the extension out of the way and ensures that your adjustment is carried over to the extension piece.
- On your own body, determine where you’d like to add the extra ease. You can use a measuring tape to do this, or Kathleen just measures using her hand/fingers (I’ll admit to fudging by using my hand/fingers, too). Find the fullest part of your tummy, and then figure out how far over that part is from where your side seam would be, and note this amount. Then, figure out how far down from your waistband this part sits and note that amount, as well.
- On your pattern piece, draw a horizontal line from the side seam to the CF at the same level as the fullest part of your tummy.
- On your pattern piece, draw a vertical line from the waist seam to the line that you just drew at the same vertical place as the fullest part of your tummy.
- If your pattern has seam allowances, place a piece of tape where the horizontal line that you drew meets the seam allowance. Also place a piece of tape where the horizontal line that you drew meets the vertical line that you drew. These pieces of tape will reinforce the area for when you create hinges in future steps.
- Cut into your pattern pieces:
- From the center front (CF), cut through the folded back fly shield (if applicable), and cut straight through to the seam allowance. Snip into the seam allowance to make a hinge.
- Cut on the vertical line from the waist seam, stopping just sort of the horizontal cut that you just made so that there’s a hinge at this cut, too.
- Spread the horizontal cut the amount that you want to add for your tummy. The amount might take some trial-and-error; I usually start with spreading about 1/2″ (~1.25cm). Spread the vertical cut the amount needed to true up your CF. Slide paper under the gaps and tape into place, making sure to avoid obstructing the fly shield.
- Unfold the fly shield, tape into place, and do your final trim of the backing paper:
- If necessary, transfer your changes to the pocket pattern pieces.
Congratulations! You’ve just made your first Full Tummy Adjustment!
You might be wondering what to do with the additional ease that you’ve just added at the waist seam. You have a few options, depending on the pattern and your fit preferences:
- If, like me, you have a thicker waist and typically need to add ease to waistbands, you can just leave your main pattern piece as-is and simply measure the seamline distance of the new wedge, and add that to your front waistband piece.
- You can sew the new wedge at the top as a dart.
- You can incorporate the added amount into an existing dart.
If you found this tutorial useful, Kathleen Cheetham covers this alteration and lots of other useful alterations in her Plus Size Pant Fitting class on Craftsy, which I highly recommend.