Pattern Alterations

 

If your measurements do not fit one of our sizes you should go with either the closest chest or hip measurement, depending on the pattern in question. We recommend that you choose the size with the closest chest measurement for tops, dresses and coats, and the closest hip measurement for pants and skirts. This way the other measurements in the pattern will be easier to alter.

Always remember to measure the pattern and compare the measurements to your own. You should always check the measurements of at least the bust, waist and hip, and on skinny trousers also the thigh, knee, calf and ankle. In addition to these, it is always good to check the length from shoulder seam to hem, and from pants the length of inner leg.

You can also try the pattern by making a toile from a different material before cutting the actual fabric. The toile does not need to be an actual finished garment – just sew the most essential seams to see whether the garment fits or not, and make the pattern alterations according to that.

Altering the length:

If the garment is too short or too long, you can lengthen or shorten the pattern before cutting the fabric. Usually you can make the alterations on the horizontal dashed lines marked on the patterns, such as elbow line, waistline or a hip line. On sleeves you can alter the length on the elbow line, on dresses on the waist and hip line and on trousers and skirts on the knee line.

Shortening a pattern:

  1. Measure the length of the pattern and take the same measurement on your body.
  2. Compare the pattern measurements with your own measurements and calculate the difference.
  3. Draw a horizontal line on the pattern at the level where you want to shorten it (for example waist, hip, knee etc.)
  4. Draw a parallel line the required amount above the first one.
  5. Cut the pattern into two parts from the lower line. Move and tape the lower piece straight up on the level of the upper line. Make sure that the center front/back remains straight.
  6. Draw the sides of the pattern smooth and continuous.
  7. Check that seams that will be sewn together still have the same length.

If you shorten the pattern a lot, it is good to divide the difference into more than one line, for example on the waist and hip or hip and knee, in order to keep the proportions correct. You can also measure the actual length from waist to hip so that you will know how much to reduce from that part.

Lengthening a pattern:

  1. Measure the length of the pattern and take the same measurement on your body.
  2. Compare the pattern measurements with your own measurements and calculate the difference.
  3. Draw a horizontal line on the pattern at the level where you want to lengthen it (for example waist, hip, knee etc.)
  4. Cut the pattern into two parts through the lengthening line. Place a piece of paper under the pieces and tape the lower part on it.
  5. Draw a parallel line on the paper, the required amount above the edge of the pattern.
  6. Tape the edge of upper pattern piece on the line. Make sure that the center front/back remains straight.
  7. Draw the sides of the pattern smooth and continuous.
  8. Check that seams that will be sewn together still have the same length.

If you lengthen the pattern a lot, it is good to divide the difference into more than one line, for example on the waist and hip or hip and knee, in order to keep the proportions correct. You can also measure the actual length from waist to hip so that you will know how much to add to this part.

Altering the width of a pattern:

Altering the width of a pattern from seam:

  1. Measure the length of the pattern and take the same measurement on your body.
  2. Compare the pattern measurements with your own measurements and calculate the difference. If the difference is significant, you can reduce or add part of it from/to the waist darts, depending on the garment.
  3. Divide the difference evenly to all seams on the level you are adjusting, and mark the difference with a dot on each part that you are changing.
  4. Draw the outline of the pattern through the dot, adapting to the original shape.
  5. Check that the new line is not too steep or curved – in that case it will not set nicely after sewing. If this happens, you can reduce or add part of the difference from/to the waist darts.
  6. Check that seams that will be sewn together still have the same length.

Note that the patterns of slim garments that are made of elastic fabrics can be slightly smaller than your own measurements.

Altering the width of a pattern from waist darts:

  1. Measure the waist of the pattern and your own waist.
  2. Compare the pattern measurements with your own measurements and calculate the difference.
  3. Add or reduce the difference to/from all waist darts so that you add or reduce the same amount from the side of each dart and draw new lines towards the tip of the dart.
  4. Check that the sides of darts are the same length and that the edge of the pattern continues smoothly over the darts.

Note that the darts should not be too wide. The back darts closest to center back should be wider than the other back darts – the width should not be more than 3-4 cm. Front darts should not be wider than 2,5 cm.

If there are two back darts, the darts closer to side seam can be left unsewn; this gives the waist more fullness. In this case, draw the edge of the pattern smooth above the dart that you are not sewing.

Altering the proportions of a pattern:

For altering proportions, follow the shortening, lenghtening and width altering instructions by shortening, lengthening and adjusting the width of the pattern on each part according to your own measurements.