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Matilda Broad Back Adjustment

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Matilda Sewalong: Broad Back Adjustment

We absolutely love supporting people on their sewing journeys and we also really love when people let us know what they’d like help with! We had an awesome sewer ask a question in the comments section of the blog a little while ago about how to do a broad back adjustment for their Matilda dress and we thought we’d whip up a little tutorial to help them & any other sewers who might need this adjustment!

How do you know if you need a broad back adjustment?

Backs & shoulders come in such a wonderful variety of shapes and sizes which means that the fit of a pattern straight out of the packet isn’t going to be perfect for everyone. If you feel restricted when reaching for things while wearing your Matilda Dress or just a general tightness across your back and shoulders, then you might have a broader back than the block the pattern is drafted on. Not to worry though, with the adjustments we’re covering today the perfect fitting Matilda is absolutely within your *comfortable & unrestricted* reach!

Adjustments to the Back

For either the sleeved or sleeve band version of Matilda, you can create more room for your back by slashing & spreading your back yoke pattern piece at the notches that align with the back seams. To ensure your back & side back pieces still fit with your yoke and to give extra width for your lower shoulders, divide the increase you made to the yoke between the back & side back edges. Taper the increase from the top edge stitch lines to nothing at the notches.

If you are needing more room in your lower back as well though, you can continue these increases down further. If your waistband is fitting well, then taper your adjustment to nothing before you reach the waist seam allowances. Alternatively, you can slash & pivot the top of your waistband or slash & spread your waistband and skirt pieces if you’re needing extra width there too.

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Matilda Sewalong: Broad Back Adjustment | Adjustments To Your Back Pieces

Adjustments to fit things back together

Because we have increased the width of the back yoke, we will need to make adjustments to make sure that it will still fit together with the front bodice pieces. Different methods are going to give you different results, so have a read and decide which adjustment is going to be best for you.

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Matilda Sewalong: Broad Back Adjustment | Fitting Your Pieces Back Together
  1. Easing: Because the shoulder seam is angled and almost on the bias, the top edges of the yokes can be manipulated slightly to stretch or condense. This means that for small increases you may be able to simply ease the larger back to fit the front. Pin the neckline & armscye edges of the back yoke to sit in place on the front, then gently work it into shape. Don’t be afraid to use lots of pins to hold it while you sew to prevent any tucks or pleats.
  2.  Shoulder Dart: For larger adjustments where you don’t want to add any extra width to the front (for example for rounded backs & shoulders), you can pin out the increase you made in the back yoke along the top shoulder edge into a dart. You can determine the position and length of this dart by placing your tissue pattern or actual fabric yoke on your shoulders and seeing where the excess wants to be pinched & removed. Everyone’s shoulders have a different curve & shape and making the adjustment against your body will mean the finished product is perfect for you. Check that the dart is removing the amount that the back yoke was increased by at the shoulder seam stitch line, not the pattern edge.
  3. Slash & Pivot: Instead of fitting the back into the front, you can alternatively adjust the front yoke to fit the back. Slash the front yoke in the same place as the back yoke & pivot on the stitch line until the shoulder seam matches. This method will give you more width in the front as well as the back which can help if your shoulders are broader, not just your back.
  4. Broad Front + Back Adjustment: If you are needing more space in your upper chest as well as your back & shoulders, you can also use the same method as the back adjustment to increase the front. Slash & spread your front yoke to match the back alteration and then divide the increase between the front & side front.

Increasing Your Sleeve Head Width

The last option we are looking at today is creating a little more room for your shoulders by adding to the width of your sleeve head. This method is best used for small amounts though as the increased sleeve head must still be small enough to be eased into the armscye without causing tucks.

Megan Nielsen Patterns | Matilda Sewalong: Broad Back Adjustment | Increasing Your Sleeve Head Width

And there you have it! A few quick adjustments you can use to create a little more back & shoulder space in your Matilda dress. If you have any other questions to do with broad back adjustments or anything else to do with your sewing projects, let us know in the comment section below!

Naomi xx

The Matilda Sewing Pattern is Now In Extended Sizes - 0-34!


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About Author

Naomi is the Design Assistant here at Megan Nielsen Patterns, and our resident helping hand. She stays busy assisting Meg with pattern development leg work, getting super excited about good instructional diagrams and making green coloured fabric suggestions for every sample we make. She’s a problem solver, a fabric addict, a serial tea-forgetter and a passionate maker.

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2 years ago

Beautifully written and illustrated. Well done.

Anne Baughan
Anne Baughan
2 years ago

My broad shoulders thank you, thank you, thank you! Cheers and I own so many MN patterns due to these well written posts!