Swayback Adjustments – Can They Be Avoided?

Hello and happy Wednesday!

Something I wanted to talk about today is the swayback adjustment. It’s something that I have noticed many people need and really loathe having to do.

First, what is a swayback adjustment?

This is the adjustment concerning your lower back. If you’re bootylicious enough, there’s often a hollow right above your tailbone that can lead to gaping in your patterns, especially for tighter fitting bodices and high waisted skirts. To fix this issue requires you to take out that excess fabric, often by pinching it out on your mock up and then transferring that to your pattern.

Some tutorials I like are from Gertie’s Blog for Better Sewing and By Hand London.

How do you know you need a swayback adjustment?

If you notice your fabric rippling and pooling in just your lower back, chances are you’ll need the adjustment. If you are having the same issue with your front, then just reducing the length of the pattern in general is probably a better solution. It may even be a mix of both needed, especially if you are petite like I am.

Example of what it looks like before your adjustment, taken from the Pattern Scissors Cloth blog.

Example of what it looks like before your adjustment, taken from the Pattern Scissors Cloth blog.

Considering that this is such a common problem, I wonder…can this really be avoided? I think the answer may be yes for many people. This is because your swayback issue may be cause by none other than plain poor posture!

That’s right, poor posture is a major contributor to the swayback dilemma. It’s a very common and serious problem among office workers, or really anyone who sits in a chair for long periods at a time. Who do we know that does that I wonder… Basically, you’re sticking your butt out farther than you should and it’s causing that dip. Take a look at the difference in my own posture.

This is before I adjust my posture. Can you see the large dip in my lower back?

This is before I adjust my posture. Can you see the large dip in my lower back?

When I focus on standing correctly, that gap is greatly diminished, meaning I won't have so much pooling fabric.

When I focus on standing correctly, that gap is greatly diminished, meaning I won’t have so much pooling fabric.

That’s quite the difference, considering all I’m doing is tucking my butt in where it belongs. This has been tough to correct though and I’m not there yet in perfect posture all the time. I have to mentally think about it and correct myself. I’ve actually considered wearing something to make it easier, as there are posture aids out there you can wear under your clothes. I haven’t decided yet though and want to see how well I do on my own.

So if you think your posture may be to blame for your lower back problems, see if there’s a physical therapist that can give you some exercises or techniques for you to practice. Aside from no longer needing to do an extra adjustment when sewing, proper posture can help promote healthy muscles and help relieve back pain. I won’t tell you what exercises/techniques I use because this is something you should consult a professional about and I am not a professional by all means. Definitely consult someone to see if this is something you need to do and enjoy no longer needing to do a swayback adjustment!

Are there any other common issues that we crafters get that can possibly be avoided? Tell me what you think in the comments. As always, you can subscribe for updates or follow me on Instagram @costumesandfashionbybethany.

Until next time,

—Bethany Out

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