A common adjustment many of us need to make – especially in this computer & smartphone age – is a high round back adjustment (sometimes rather unfortunately called a “dowagers hump”!). If your back doesn’t go up straight into your neck, but rather curves over a bit, you may have a high round back (the opposite of this is if you have a very upright posture). The key signs that you need this adjustment are a gaping neckline, and potentially a back hem that rides up. The good news is that when you sew, you can adjust for it!
This tutorial will use the yoke of the Springfield Top as an example for the high round back adjustment, but you could use the same approach on the Upton Dress, or other woven patterns.
- To decide how much length you need to add to the upper back, measure your back from your waist to the back of your neck where a necklace would sit. Now measure the center back length of the pattern (including the lower back and yoke, and excluding the seam allowance). Your back will be longer, so subtract the pattern length from your back length and that’s the amount you need to add. For instance, if your back length is 15″ and the pattern is 14″, you need to add 1″.
- Get a piece of paper and tape or secure it to your table. Draw a straight vertical line on your paper (shown in red below), and this will be our center back guide. Place your back piece against this line, with the center back on the guide.
2. Draw two lines onto the yoke. The first one should be about an inch up, parallel to the bottom of the yoke and at a right angle to the center back. The second should go from that line up to the neckline, about 3 inches in, and going at a slight angle – don’t worry too much about the exact distance and angle, as long as it resembles this picture it’ll be fine.
3. Now, carefully cut the first, horizontal line, starting at the center back and going towards the armhole. Just before you get to the armhole, stop, and leave a little hinge there. Move the top part of the yoke up gently, maintaining the paper hinge.
4. Cut the diagonal line, starting at the neckline and going down, again leaving a little paper hinge at the bottom. While maintaining the hinge, slide the right hand side piece over so that it is once again against the guide line.
5. Adjust the gap between the bottom and top pieces (where the arrow is) so that it’s the amount you calculated you needed to add in step 1.
6. Place a new piece of tracing paper on top of the pattern piece, and trace the new shape, smoothing out the neckline. Where the gap opened along the neckline, add a dart, about 3.5 inches long.
And there there you have it! When you sew the piece you’ll need to sew the dart first, and you’ll have more space in the back, combined with a nicely fitted neckline.
Have you used this adjustment before? Do you have any other tips?