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Kim Dress Sewalong - Alterations - Full butt adjustment (Variation 1 only)

Aloha Sewists, and welcome to the Alterations section of the Kim Dress Sewalong! Throughout these posts we will be going through as many pattern alteration tutorials as we can physically crush in, relevant to the Kim Dress. But it doesn't end there - the extra great news is that a lot of these tutorials will be applicable not only to the Kim, but to a huge amount of other patterns too as we tackle most of the common issues surrounding pattern fitting. 

*To be taken to all the posts in the Kim Dress Sewalong, please click here!*

Having done the bulk of the bodice alterations, we can now tackle some common issues that can arise with fitted skirts. First up, for all the big booty girls out there, a full butt adjustment.

What you'll need:

  • Your traced and cut out skirt back piece of the Kim Dress (Variation 1 only). Make sure you trace the pattern pieces according to your waistline measurement
  • Tape measure
  • Pens
  • Paper scissors (not the fabric shears!)
  • Extra paper
  • Tape

Please note: We are using itty bitty replica's of the pattern pieces to illustrate the alterations as simply and clearly as possible - please make sure that you alter your real-life pattern pieces, complete with notches, pattern info and grainlines!

How do I know if I need a full butt adjustment?

There are a number of tell-tale signs to let you know that a full butt adjustment is in order - firstly, and most obviously, if you already know that you have a full, muscular, or particularly juicy booty! Other indications might include:

  • your hip measurement (around the fullest part of your butt, not around your hip bone! See this post for more on how to measure yourself accurately) falls into a larger size category than your waistline measurement
  • you find that shop bought pencil/fitted skirts that fit on your butt are too big at the waist
  • Pencil/fitted skirts that do fit your waist tend to be very much on the snug side around your butt, and as a result they ride up and pool at the small of your back.

Ok! Let's dive right in! 

Step 1

To adjust your skirt pattern to get the best fit, we need to add/remove volume to all the areas that are affected by a full butt: namely, the hip measurement and the centre back length. 

In the same vein as a full bust adjustment, we can determine by how much we need to increase the hips by starting with your waistline measurement and the size category that falls into.

For example, your waistline measurement is 26" making you a size UK 8. However, your 38" hip measurement is 2" larger than the 36" hip dictated by the size UK 8. You'll need to increase your total hip measurement by 2", making that a 1" increase to the skirt back pattern piece (which then doubles as you cut two skirt back pieces).

Start by taking your Variation 1 skirt back piece and marking out the side seam allowance (shown in blue), as well as a point about 8-10" down from the waistline (shown in pink x). It is across this width that the butt is at its fullest, and where we'll need to be creating some more space.

Step 2

Draw a horizontal line through your marked point all the way from the centre back and out to the side seam. Stop when you hit the seam allowance line, draw a little circle to indicate a pivot point (or hinge) and continue the pink line from the circle out to the edge of the side seam.

Now draw a vertical line going through the dart and all the way down to the hem, creating another pivot point at the hem allowance line (1" up).

Step 3

Take your paper scissors and cut down the vertical line from the waistline to your hem pivot point, and snip into the hem allowance up to the pivot point.

Cut horizontally from the centre back and out to the side seam pivot point, and again snip from the edge of the side seam to the pivot.

Your pattern piece should be looking a little something like this:

Step 4

Slip a piece of scrap paper underneath your skirt back pattern. We can now begin the process of spreading the pattern to create that added space we need in the butt area.

Step 5

When you've spread the skirt out by an 1" (or by however much you need to increase your hip measurement by) both horizontally and vertically, tape it all down, redraw the centre back seam and the waistline at the dart.

You'll see that in doing this, you will have increased the hip measurement and the centre back length (to allow for a more exaggerated curve at the derrière), all the while keeping the side seam and hem the same. 

Step 6

To keep the waistline the same, we simply need to redraw the dart - draw a new dart point exactly in the middle of your split dart, and redraw the dart legs by joining your new dart point with the original waistline notches. The dart itself has become wider, but once it's all sewn up, the waistline will remain the same measurement.

Tip from the top: Always check your adjustment by making another toile to check the fit. Once you're happy with your newly adjusted pattern, copy it out onto some card for extra safe keeping! Although this is a straightforward adjustment to make, no one wants to have to do it twice...

Comments on this post (7)

  • Apr 13, 2020

    Perhaps the dart intake could be divided into two closely placed darts?

    — Jeanne M Hnilicka

  • Mar 10, 2020

    Thank you, this is helpful, I will try this, very clear and easy to follow instructions.

    — Tara Lynn Scheidet

  • Jun 07, 2019

    Thank you!! This is an issue I have faced my entire sewing life, I’ve just started getting back into sewing more and resolved to spend some time refining my fitting knowledge, your instructions are fantastic and clear.

    — Nancy

  • May 30, 2018

    Thank you your instruction! My daughter’s friend has 29" waist (flat tummy) but big butt!! 45" hips measurement…

    They live in NY and she want me to make her friend a Mad Men dress (not available for fittings)
    So I will have to just wing it with the measurements I asked for a hip measure across the fullest part of just the back side.

    Again , thank you for instruction. I will let you know how it turned out :)

    — Diana Mullen

  • May 14, 2018

    This is fantastic – clear and beautifully done. Thank you

    — Tessa

  • Jun 15, 2017

    Thanks! Good ideas and clear markings.

    — Mimi

  • May 14, 2018

    Thanks for the tip that was really helpful! Can’t wait to try it out

    — Colleen

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