Adjusting a Pattern

Few people have exactly the same measurements as those listed on a pattern. Therefore, some minor adjustments may be needed.

For loosely fitted garments, minor differences in measurements can be overlooked. For fitted garments, your measurements should correspond very closely to the body measurements for your pattern size.

Before laying pattern pieces on fabric, check to see whether the pattern needs to be adjusted.

After the fabric is cut, it's too late to add extra” to any part.


Pattern sizes are designed for the body measurements listed on the pattern envelope. Only such garments as bodysuits and swimsuits, how ever, measure exactly the same as those body measurements. Most garments have wearing ease added to the pattern.

As you read earlier, wearing ease is the amount of fullness added to a pattern to allow for movement and comfort. For fitted garments, most pat terns have the following amounts of ease:

• About l” (2.5 cm) at the waistline.

• 2 to 2½-inches (5 to 6.5 cm) at the hips.

• 2 1/2 to 4” (6.5 to 10 cm) at the bust or chest.

For fuller garments, designers have added extra fullness to create a particular style or silhouette. This is called design ease.

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Personal Measurements Chart



Bust/Chest Waist Hip Back/Side Length

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Compare your own measurements to those listed on the pattern envelope. Make a chart like the one in Fgr. 1, which lists both sets of measurements for bust or chest, waist, hip, and back or side length. If any measurements are not the same, enter the plus or minus difference in your chart. When complete, the chart shows where to make adjustments and how much to take in or let out. For example, if your waistline is 1” (2.5 cm) larger than the pattern size, you will have to increase the pattern pieces at the waistline a total of 1” (2.5 cm).

Some measurements are not listed on the pat tern envelope. For these, measure the actual pat tern pieces. Be sure to measure only from seam line to seam line. Since seam lines are not marked on multisized patterns, draw them in before you measure the pattern pieces. Most seam lines are 5/8” (1.3 cm) in from the cutting line. Check the general directions on the front of the guide sheet.

Do not include any darts, pleats, tucks, or over lapping edges. For total width, measure both the front and back sections and then double the amount. For length, measure only from seam line to hemline. Do not include the hem allowance.

Fgr. 2 Lengthening a Pattern

Fgr. 3 Shortening a Pattern

Underhanded Uniquizing Effort Sub-Series:

Wiki Sewing

Thread the Sewing Machine

All sewing machines vary slightly in how they're threaded. Your manual is the best resource for how to thread your machine. Your goal in threading the sewing machine is to get the thread from the spool to the machine needle, through all the guides so that the machine will sew even stitches.

Many older sewing machines have a threading diagram inside the end of the machine.

New sewing machines may have threading diagram arrows on the machine to follow as you thread the machine.

The following steps are general instructions for threading a sewing machine.

1 Place the machine presser foot up. When the presser foot is down, the tension discs are engaged, and the thread will not sit properly in the tension discs with the foot down.

2 Place the thread on the sewing machine.

Thread is held on the spool holder. Spool holders come in assorted varieties.

Horizontally built-in spool holders also have a vertical spool holder option. Use the appropriate spool holder for your spool of thread.

3 The next step is usually a thread guide.

Thread guides come in various shapes and forms. It may be a hook design or a button design. Drawing thread from the spool, run the thread to the thread guide, which is closest to the spool of thread.

4 Watch for another thread guide as you move the thread downward to the tension discs.

Slide the thread into the tension disc and upward.

5 Guide the thread upward to the take-up lever. The take-up lever may have a slot in it to slide the thread in, or you may have to thread it like a needle eye.

6 Once you have the thread through the take up lever, guide it downward toward the needle. There are usually two thread guides before the thread goes to the needle. One may be on the front of the machine, and one is just under the machine body, almost hid den if you aren't looking for it.

7 Guide the thread to the needle. Just above the needle, there is usually a guide you must take the thread through.

8 Thread the needle, and place the thread tail under the presser foot toward the back of the machine.

9 Thread the bobbin and bring the bobbin thread up through the throat plate.

10 Test the stitching on a scrap of fabric.


The two most common pattern adjustments are for length and width. Be sure you make them on both front and back pattern pieces. As you do so, check that grain lines remain straight. Also, redraw any darts or design details. Blend sizes by drawing a new cutting line that tapers from the smaller to the larger size.

When making pattern adjustments, accuracy is critical. If you make an error of just 1/4” (6mm) at each side seam of a pants pattern, for example, it will become a 1-inch (2.5-cm) error when all four seam allowances are added together.

Adjusting Length

Many patterns have adjustment lines for length printed on the pattern pieces. Other pat terns are altered at the lower edge. See Fgrs. 2 and 3.

• Lengthening at the adjustment line. Cut the pattern apart at the adjustment line. Place paper under the opening and spread the pieces the necessary amount. Keep cut edges parallel across the entire opening, verifying this with a ruler. Also check that the center-front line and grain line are straight. Tape pattern pieces in place. Redraw the cutting line along the outer edge. Redraw any darts or design details. For pants, first adjust crotch length and then adjust overall length.

• Lengthening at the lower edge. Tape paper to the edge of the pattern. Measure down the necessary amount and draw a new cutting line parallel to the lower edge. Extend the cutting lines along the side edges.

• Shortening at the adjustment line. Measure up from the adjustment line the necessary amount to be shortened and draw a line. Fold the pattern along the adjustment line and bring the fold up to exactly meet the new line. Check the grain line. Tape the fold in place. Redraw cutting lines and any darts or design lines.

• Shortening at the lower edge. Draw a new hemline above the original line. Redraw the cutting lines.

Adjusting Width

Fgr. 4 Adjusting Width on a Pattern: These diagrams show how to increase and decrease the width of pattern pieces. On the pattern for a top, the changes are made at the waistline. On the skirt and pants, changes can be made at the waistline as well as the hip.

A total width adjustment of 2” (5 cm) or less can be made at the side seams. Because a garment has two side seams and four side-seam allowances, the amount to be adjusted on the front pattern piece is 1/4 of the total amount.

For example, to increase the waistline by 2” (5 cm), you add 1/2” (1.3 cm) to the side seam of the front pattern piece and 1/2” (1.3 cm) to the side seam of the back pattern piece. Thus, each side seam increases 1” (2.5 cm), and the total waistline increases 2” (5 cm).

Width adjustments larger than 2” (5 cm) require cutting and spreading or overlapping the pattern pieces. For these, check the procedure in an alteration book or a detailed sewing book.

Methods for increasing and decreasing pattern width are shown in Fgr. 4 and described here.

• Increasing pattern width. Tape paper along the pattern piece edge. Measure out 1/4 of the necessary amount at the area to be widened. Redraw cutting lines and seam lines, tapering gradually. For a waistline, taper side seams up to the armhole or down to the hipline. Be sure to make the same adjustments on the waistband pattern. For the hipline, continue the adjustments down to the hemline to retain the original shape of pants or skirt.

Above the hipline, taper side seams in to meet the original waistline. For pants thigh, add 1/4 of the amount to each inseam and side seam, extending the lines straight down to the hem edge.

• Decreasing pattern width. Measure in 1/4 of the necessary amount on each pattern piece.

Redraw the cutting lines and side seams, tapering gradually. For a waistline, taper the side seams up to the armhole or down to the hipline. For a waistband, fold 1/2 of the necessary amount out of each side seam marking.

For the hipline, taper cutting lines and side seams up to the original waistline and straight down to the hemline. For pants thigh, take in 1/4 of the amount on the inside seam and side seam, redrawing the lines straight down to the hemline.

Blending Sizes

Multisized patterns are helpful to people who are a different size on top and bottom. For example, a person might have a size 10 bust and size 12 hips. To blend two sizes, draw a new cutting line that gradually tapers out from the smaller size to the larger size. See Fgr. 5.

Fgr. 5 When blending two sizes on a multisized pattern, draw a new cutting line. Taper gradually from one size to the other.

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Friday, 2012-06-01 11:20