October 27, 2021

Once you've decided how much to adjust your pattern (see our blog post on how to determine the amount of length to add or remove), you need to cut the pattern and either add space in between the cuts (to lengthen), or overlap the pieces (to shorten).

Where to Add/Remove the Length

There are two ways to determine where to add or remove the length from:

Using the Shorten/Lengthen Lines on the Patterns

Many patterns come with a shorten/lengthen line (or several) marked on the pattern. This makes it very easy - just cut and off you go!

Drawing Your Own Shorten/Lengthen Lines

Where you draw your lines is going to depend on what you're making, and your proportions. In general, if you are removing more than an inch (total) of length, it's best to draw multiple lines and add/remove the length in several places.

For example, if you are adding/removing 1.5" from a bodice, I would do it in two places - one around the bust, and one around the waist. For an inch or less though, I would just adjust at the waist.

It can be helpful to measure your body and compare it to the pattern. For example, if you're adjusting a pants pattern and it's obvious where the knee is meant to be, measure from your crotch to your knee and compare it to the pattern, then adjust to match. Do the same from knee to ankle.

The Basic Process: Video

Here's a video the covers the basic step by step process of adding or removing length.

YouTube video

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A Few Things to Keep in Mind:

  1. If your pattern has front and back pieces, make sure you adjust both in the same places
  2. If your piece doesn't already have a straight vertical line (such as center front/center back fold), draw one on your piece that is parallel to the grainline, to help you realign your piece after you cut it apart.
  3. If your pieces are fairly straight in the sides seams, you can just add/remove from the bottom instead of cutting.

I hope this post is helpful for you in adjusting your pattern pieces for a perfect fit!

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