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Saturday 14 January 2012

How to add extra room for your backside - skirt

There's no escaping it no matter how hard I fight it. Each year I swear this christmas will be different.

I will not eat enough for four people.
I will not consume my body weight in Christmas pudding.
I will not succumb to the delicious, delicious turkey.

Fight as I may, when I put my two feet on the scales in January (with a drum-stick in one hand) I know who won the battle in the 'Julia Vs Christmas' fight.


Logic would have you think that if you're already well endowed in the backside area, that a few extra pounds would lodge them selves somewhere where I'm lower in fat; the elbows for example or my arms. But oh no. That extra stuffing goes right where I don't need it ... like my backside is handing out pamphlets around town saying that it's the best place for fat to visit. Thanks so much.

So, instead of wearing my sweat pants everyday for the next month and resigning myself to a dinner of carrot sticks, cardboard and dust particles I decided to embrace the extra 'junk in my trunk' and make my skirts with just an itty bitty extra space.  This adjustment will add extra room without changing the side seams or hem. That way no one is the wiser. Yes Shakira, sometimes hips CAN lie.

I just made this adjustment on a dress that I'll be posting this week.

So let's get busy:

1. Trace your back skirt piece onto tracing paper and get your scissors and markers ready. The pattern piece I'm using is for a short skirt just to give you a bit of context.

2. Draw a straight line right through the hip line from the side seam to the centre back (CB). I've done this in a blue marker below.

3. Draw a straight line right from the waist down to the hem. I've done mine right next to the waist dart.

3. Now you'll see a blue cross on my pattern piece above. With your scissors, cut down that blue line that you made starting at the waist and all the way down to the hem stopping about 5mm above the hem creating a 'hinge'.

4. Now cut across your hip line starting at the CB all the way to the side seam, but being careful to leave a hinge at the side seam.
The whole point of this adjustment is to add extra room without affecting your side seam or hem.

5. Your pattern piece is now effectively divided into four pieces. If you've done it correctly you should have two hinges; one at the hem and one at the side seam.

Spread your pattern pieces out by the extra amount that you need.

6. You'll see that the side seam and hem have not changed, but the CB has lengthened and so has the waist. We'll be altering the waist dart in the next few steps to retain the original waist.

Tape paper underneath your opened pattern piece. I always did love cutting and pasting as a kid.

7. Now we want to get that waist back to it's normal length.
Measure the amount that you added at the waist. You'll see in the picture below that 15mm was added.

8. Split the measurement in half and add it to either side of your original dart. The amount I had added to the waist was 15mm, so I added 7.5mm to each side of my original dart (7.5mm + 7.5mm = 15mm).

Draw a new line from your markings to the dart point. I've done mine below in red. This is now your new dart.

And now you have a new skirt back with extra room at your seat without affecting the side seams, hem or increasing the waist.

 Maybe I can hold of on getting back into my exercise regime for a few more days now.

Happy eating sewing!


  1. Thanks a lot for the explanation with pictures! No matter if I gain or loose weight, my backside always tends to be bigger than the actual size I'm wearing. This will help me!

    1. It's nice to know there are others out there with the same shape issues as me! Glad you found the post helpful. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Aahhh, I can finally breath out and make a skirt to cover the extra Xmas pudding!!! This is soooo much easier than exercising to loose those unwanted kilos.....excellent pictorial tutorial....

    1. Thank you for the kind feedback and thanks for reading! :)

  3. Great tutorial! Exactly what I needed...

  4. No joke, I was JUST thinking about this in bed last night. I have a skirt sitting in my UFO pile because it's too tight across my backside. I love the looks of the pattern, but I was afraid I'd never be able to use it again because I had no idea how to adjust it to fit my backside. Thanks a bunch!

  5. Sigh, I understand your problem very well. Every gram I gain goes straight to the derriere. My only solace is that at least I don't have a belly!
    Thank you so much for the tutorial and good luck with the excercising!

    1. Thank you!! It's the bane of my existence. Thanks for your comment :)

  6. At the risk of sounding like even more of a newbie than I already am- where did you get that fantastic spotted tracing paper? Canberra is sadly dearth of paper like that (or it is hiding somewhere like a ninja!)I'd really like to give this tutorial a go and I have a feeling that may help a little. Thanks for the great info!

    1. Hi Amanda! Firstly, dearth - fantastic word.
      Secondly, I know what you mean about the tracing paper! I actually cheated and bought mine off a friend who had purchased a heap a while back. However, it is 'Kwik sew tracing cloth' and my friend bought it online from Autumn threads, but unfortunately their site is now closed until July! However another lovely reader elerted me to the fact that you can purchase this online from the following site http://www.nancysnotions.com/product/kwik+sew+kwik+trace+pattern+tracing+cloth.do and it's very cheap.
      Lastly, there is a lincraft store near me that aparently sells tracing cloth by the metre so it's worth checking to see if the Canberra store sells it as well. Good luck!

  7. Dear Julia,

    Last night i was trying to draft a block from a standard pattern for my friend. The difference between her hip measurement and the hip measurement for the pattern size (based on the waist) was 7cm.

    When i cut and spread i added the 7cm to the CB length. Was this correct? I then increased the waist dart as suggested. This worked but i wonder if this was the correct way of doing it?

    Please help!

    Sandra (a subscriber via Bloglovin!)

    1. Hi Sandra!

      The 7cm is quite a lot extra to add the CB length so it might not work perfectly but should still be relatively OK. This adjustment is better used for differences of 3 cm's or less, and usually if the extra area is at the seat of the dress. If her hips are wider it might be best just making the side seams slightly wider from the hips down.

      Good luck with the adjustments!

  8. Hi

    Just happened acorss your website from a facebook ad and I found this tutorial which I can't wai to try (later this year after I have had my third baby!) I always struggle to get skirt and trouser patterns fit my behins - why are so many modern patterns made for straight up and down and no backside figures (at least it's like this in the UK!)! I took to dressmaking when I was in my early teens and nothing fitted my waist to hip ratio! I can't wait to try this and it's bookmarked to give it a go! Thanks! I shall be wathing your website for more hints and tips in the future.

  9. Wow! Internet is fantastic! And so are you! :) for sharing explanations and thoughts!
    BIG thanks for this tutorial! :)

    1. I have always had a large "booty" even before J-Lo and Beyonnce were even born and know the handicap of it. Thanks so much for the pattern and pictures exlaining the sure fire way of correcting what I have been blessed with all my life. It was such a surprise to see how easy it can be. Thank you muchly. Karen

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  11. I have just used your tutorial, thank you so much it has worked a dream.

  12. I like this! I've always had to have more length in the back; I hate that dreaded hiked up in the back look. But what I like about your method and will try next skirt I make is you put the extra length right at the "booty", I had just been adding it at the bottom hemline. Plus it seems to have tilted the bottom slightly inward which I like as well because I've always been working on the pencil skirt look. I want it to follow what little curve I have naturally instead, again, of hanging off that big bump at the back.

    They never taper in as much as I like so I've always been tapering them from about hip level to bottom 1" or so on each side seam.

  13. I will give this a try! It looks easier to follow than some tutorials online! My full buttocks have always been my problem since my teens. At 16 I'd already had a load that was too much for my teenage build. I'm 28 now, a fully shaped hourglass figure and just AWKWARD to dress from bodice to skirt area. Took up sewing in 2015, on and off, in the hopes of dressing myself better. Sometimes I wished they are as flat as my stomach. Duh! Thank you.