Sway back

A sway back is a body posture deviation where the natural inward curve of the spine at the back waist is exaggerated. Strangely enough, this inappropriate figure is often complimented as the sway make you appear upright and taller. Call it as you want, but it is neither correct not good for your back and very often translates into pain in back already at an early age.

How to check if you have a sway back? Try standing with your side to a mirror or ask somebody to take a photo at your side. Is the line of your back straight? Really straight? Or do you have a distinctive curves, making your back almost the shape of an S? If you see an S … than you most likely have a Sway back.


The final check is to compare you back length with the standard measurement for your body height. If your measured back length is shorter than the benchmark – this is another indication of a sway back. MySizePatterns size charts – Ladies

Quite surprisingly a large proportion of women has a sway back. So do not panic if you are one of them. So it is even stranger that commercial garments and sewing patterns are made almost exclusively for regular backs and have usually a straight centre-back seam.

What are the fitting issues for a sway back posture and ? In close fitting garments you will easily spot horizontal wrinkles across the back waistline. These wrinkles will be most pronounced at the center line of the back (spine) and they will stop shortly before the side seam. In looser garments you will have a balloon above the back waist, and an uneven hemline around the hip level (longer at the centre back with side seams swinging forward). You really can not miss it.


But do not be too quick in jumping into conclusions about having a sway back as you may confuse the shorter back measurement (alone) with the following fitting issues:

  • shorter upper body – this is when your torso is simply shorter in relation to a body height. In such a case not only your back length but also your front length is shorter than the standards. Consequently, you have horizontal wrinkles in the back that extend into the side seams and continue on the front of the bodice. The fix this – you should shorten the the upper part of the garment or use sewing patterns for a lower body height. Check some comments on that in Which height to choose
  • If your back and front lengths are in line with the standards but still you can see some excess of the fabric above waist and some wrinkles blow the waist level –  you may have prominent buttocks or relatively wide high hips. They will cause the fabric to ” ride-up” due to the tightness at the area below the waistline. So you simply need to widen the bottom part of your garments.
  • non-standard bust size -insufficient fabric length and width in the upper front part of the garment/pattern may pull up the front waist, causing drag lines towards the back waist. Here you may have a standard or non-standard back length but your front length will most likely be longer than the standard. To fix this – issue you need to have a pattern for a non-standard bust size. Read more in Bust size matters

As we  take fitting issues really seriously and we want to make you understand why the things are the way they are, we need to tell you also that a sway back may exist in conjunction with the fitting issues mentioned above (and others as well). So you may have a sway back combined with shorter (or longer) upper body, together with larger high hips or most likely with a non-standard bust size.

We do not want to make you upset about all these issues coming your way. We DO want to make it clear to you why you may be be getting frustrated with the fitting results of your garment, wasting lots of time in sewing by endless adjustments and still not getting there. This could be as you are using the pattern that is not a good match for your body shape. In most of the cases you are simply not able to get the proper results. This really kills love for sewing.

Our patterns address the most common combinations of fitting issues. You have for almost all patterns for ladies an opportunity to combine the back type with bust size and the body height.


Therefore, first of all analyse your posture to find what fitting issues you may have.Take your time to do so. Pick up the right pattern and enjoy sewing!

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