My Quick and Dirty Hollow Chest Adjustment for Comino Cap


As I sat writing the meat of this post I kept thinking of a twitter conversation I had with Jo_Sews. She mentioned that he mother sewed for years, but had no idea about fitting.  She assumed that if a pattern didn't fit her out of the envelope it was because there was something wrong with the pattern. This stuck in my brain because it made me think, "How many people out there right now think the problem is with the pattern? When actually the problem is that they aren't aware of their own fitting issues?"

I distinctly remember in high school making a red brocade dress. (Tone on tone floral from JoAnn's. Probably polyester.... uggh) It was Asian inspired with a neru collar, frogs along the neckline (the decorative kind you know, not the fluffy kind that sits on my table) and a long slit up the leg. Even though the pattern measurements clearly showed I should have been blending two sizes, it never occurred to me to do so. I made the size that fit my hips and which made the bust area was way too big. The fit on the final dress was horrible and I never finished it, but didn't really put two and two together about why the project was a disaster. It was college that made me realize that garments need to be fit to particular bodies, even if they didn't really show us how. It took a lot of book reading, experimentation and muslining for me to figure out how to solve most of my problems, and I'm still learning new things.

Guess this is the long way of saying, "This is why I talk about my fitting changes all the time." I don't want someone to think there's a problem with the pattern, when the real problem is that we're all differently shaped. Showing my fitting fixes is something I like to do because I've been helped by other people doing the same thing. Sew smarter, not harder. :)  So let's actually get to the sew smarter part and talk about my hollow chest adjustment for the Comino Cap. Sorry for the unplanned long winded detour.

I think it's safe to say that we all have indie favorites based on style, but also based on how close our figure is to the designer. After all the designer is the "fit model" used for the drafting of the pattern. If our figure is close to theirs, then the amount of alterations needed to get the pattern to fit us are minimal.  I'll freely admit that this is one of the reasons I'm a big Kitschy Coo fan girl.  I need to make very few adjustments to Amanda's patterns because our body type is fairly similar.  But there is one area were we are completely different and that is where our bust fullness is. Amanda's bust fullness is fairly high on her torso, where as mine is working it's way down to my waistline. (Thanks for the genes great grandma.) On a one piece top I don't really notice this. However with the added visual interest of the sweet heart princess line the excess ease bothered me.  Cue the visual examples.....

Comino Cap without any changes - I get some pooling of fabric at the mid point of the bust and over towards the arm.
To figure out how much ease to remove for the seam line, I pinched out the amount of fabric naturally folding up on the seam. On me that was 1.5" of extra ease.  Then I went back to the pattern and removed that amount from the sweet heart seam.

Comino Cap with sweet heart seam line ease reduced - Smooth baby, smooth.
So now I'll show you the "quick and dirty" method used to reduce the ease on this seam line.  It's quick and dirty because instead of slashing and closing the pattern, I'm darting out the excess ease.  You can do this kind of half assed alteration to knits because the stretch gives you a larger margin of error. But It's not the "correct way" and my pattern drafting teacher would dock my grade.

This fix will work on bodies with large busts with lower fullness like mine.  I'm not so sure it would work well as a SBA type of adjustment. Amanda is going to write up a tutorial on adjusting the pattern for small busts on her blog. If a SBA adjustment is one of your standard alterations then you might want to wait for that.

It might also be helpful for everyone to know that I did not make any kind of hollow chest adjustment to the one piece version. Without the seam line to attract the eye to that area the extra ease didn't bother me.

How to Modify the Comino Cap for Hollow Chests
I'll be demoing the fitting changes on the dress bodice pattern piece. The process is the same for the shirt version.

1. Trace off a copy of the front contrast piece and the front dress/shirt piece.

2. We'll be marking out the amount of ease to be removed on the lower piece first.  The amount of ease I'm removing is 1.5".  Because this is a rather large amount for on "dart", I decided to break it up into two 3/4" segments.   The first is 1" away from the side seam.  The second is measured from the bust matching point. I used the notch as one side of the 3/4" marking.

3. Fold the first marked out area like a dart and tape it shut.

4. Repeat step 3 with the second marked out area.

5. Now we need to remove the same amount of ease from the top contrast piece. Mark out the two 3/4" (or your measurement) in the same areas of the pattern.

6. When folding the first marked out area like a dart be sure not to take very much length out of the armhole. You might want to angle the fold like this.

7. Fold the second marked out area like a dart, letting it go up into the shoulder like so.

8. The fitting adjustments are done but the patterns "as is" would be a real pain in the butt to cut. You'll want to trace new copies.

9. For the lower piece I suggest first tracing the vertical fold line, then trace the modified sweet heart line off of the adjusted piece. "True" the seam line so that it is nice and smooth and remember to transfer the center bust matching point

10. Now take the lower piece and place it on the original pattern. Trace the waist/hem seam and then blend the original side seam from the bottom up to the new edge of sweet heart neckline.

11. The upper contrast piece is relatively flat compared to the bottom, but you might still want to retrace it to smooth out the sweet heart seam line and the armhole curve.

12. Cut your new traced copies out and you're ready to make a spiffy new Comino Cap.
Ahhhhh, doesn't fixing fitting problems make you feel good? Like dancing? Then get down with your bad self. "She's a fitting freak, fitting freak, she's super freaky now...Yooewww."


  1. aaawww the dancing! so cute!

  2. can't think of nothing you wrote about after seeing this little guy makin' tha moooves.
    want to squeeze him!

    *I totally relate to your detour, and it wasn't until recently I understood why my sewing didn't fit me as I expected. It's an accomplishment to understand we all need to learn a bit of that to make it work!
    great post!

  3. Oh my goodness, the dancing gif of Des is adorable!! I love that you share your fitting issues and fixes - you inspire me to make more and more muslins so that I can get patterns I really like to look good on my body. I'm just a beginner, but I have hope that I will get better with practice and I just ordered that book you said was awesome - Woo hoo! Great tops by the way - will you still wear the one that doesn't fit perfectly?

  4. hehehe Desmond!

    I had the same problem when sewing as a kid - my mom didn't know how to teach me to fit things. Until I was introduced to mockups in college, most of my clothing sewing was so meh I hardly wore anything I made. Now I like to tell people "Sewing is easy. It's the fitting that's tricky."

    I had to do an SBA for this pattern. Since it's a knit, all I really needed to do was lower the armhole (this adjustment is pretty typical for a small bust) and reshape the curved seam so I didn't lose most of the upper bodice on the side. After making that adjustment, I found that I also needed to angle the shoulder seams slightly. I'll blog the details when I have a chance.

  5. My mom didn't teach me how to fit patterns either, but I did blend sizes from time to time. I'm still learning fit. It isn't so easy sometimes, but I'm learning.
    Oh, Des! That is just the best gif ever!

  6. Awww Des! He's so cool! Now I can hardly remember what I was going to say :-)

    Um, yes - it was that you are a fitting inspiration, and almost every single one of your detailed posts has been in some way invaluable on my own learning curve. This summer I have FINALLY got bodices that actually fit well, and it's entirely thanks to advice from the sewcialists. High fives all round, but most especially to those like you who put the effort into explaining things so well for the rest of us! Thank you!

    OK now I'm going to watch Des dance some more.

  7. I appreciate your fitting posts more than I can say. I gave up on sewing for myself years ago because the Big 4 patterns were certainly not made for me & fitting books weren't easily accessible back then (heck,,,the internet hadn't even been dreamed of at that point! really aging myself here!) I have started sewing for myself again (LOVE Indie pattern makers & the web!) and thanks to great bloggers like you, I've pulled off some perfect fits in the past few years. Thanks so much (now,,,who's Amanda who is going to do a SBA for women like me??) Love your tee btw.

  8. Hee heee, couldn't resist when I got a bunch of photos of him jiving around.

  9. I don't think my mom did much fitting either, though I don't remember her home made clothing being ill fitting. I do remember her always making stuff for us out of super scratchy wool. LOL.

    Yeah, blog that SBA stuff and I'll point people toward you if they ask.

  10. So true, learning to fit is a real pain in the ass sometimes. I wish we could download that knowledge. You can do it Laura, with a little extra Des dancing.

  11. Hooray!!!! I'm so happy for you about getting well fitting bodices. There's so many garments you can make once you have that area figured out. I'm glad that I've helped a little bit with that. Des says he'll dance a special dance for you.

  12. So very helpful Heather - thank you! My great granny passed the large n' low boob gene to me as well and I've been stymied by how to deal with the fabric pooling in that region. Imagine me dancing like Des with excitement to try this fitting fix!

  13. Thanks so much Heather. I know I'm not the only girl in the Itty Bitty Titty Comittee,,(sometimes it feels like I'm back in high school), but it's often difficult to find help for SBAs. I'm off to check your recommendations now!)

  14. Hee hee, I am imagining you dancing like Des. :) Glad to how out other low boob garment maker.

  15. Aha! That is the problem I have with KC's patterns! My lady skaters and pennys all have this problem, but I couldn't pinpoint it. It ends up pooching under my arm, and the shoulders try to slide off. After the first one of each of these patterns, I adjusted the others by doing a sloping shoulder adjustment (I basically hoiked everything up) and also grading to a smaller size on the shoulder. Although I think I should have actually just moved the neckline in that equivalent amount.

    Part of it IS my shoulders, but I should have known it was a bust issue when my self-diagnosis of what's going on was 'it looks like I'm wearing the wrong bra'. Even though I was wearing a well fitting bra. It doesn't bother me in a solid, except that I knew something was off and I didn't know what. So now I do! And I will know to look out for it in future. Thanks!

  16. Hooray! I'm glad to have helped you to diagnose a fit problem. That's usually the most annoying part. :)

  17. Thanks for the tut! I have similar proplem - and i fell madly in love with the pattern as well. Will be making a dress next with the yoke made up in stretch lace :-)

  18. You're welcome Susanne. A stretch lace yoke sounds sexy. :)


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