Prepare to Alter your Pattern

PREV: Identify Hem Lengths Next: Flat Pattern Adjustments


The bodice is crucial to a good fit.

  • Compare your bust, waist, and back waist length measurements to those listed on the pattern envelope for your size. If the measurements differ, you must make the proper adjustments.
  • The shoulder seam of the pattern and your shoulder length should correspond. Also compare neck circumference.
  • For the bust point, find the target symbol on the main front pattern piece. Compare your personal measurements with the pattern.
  • Bust darts should point directly toward the bust point and end 1/2 to 1” (13 mm to 25 mm) from the point.

bodice measurements


For sleeves it is important to determine both the proper sleeve length, including any cuffs, as well as the correct elbow dart placement.

  • It may be necessary to alter the sleeve length either above or below the elbow or in both locations.
  • Sleeve circumference should allow for wearing ease of about 2” (5 cm), with a greater allowance for heavier arms than for thin ones.

sleeve measurements

(continued below...)

Are you looking for sewing or crafts-related items such as sewing machines, sergers, yarn, and knitting supplies? Try our online catalog pages here.

Or see what products on our site the popular search engines have chosen to list...

Recommended Reading


Recommended Products

5 Drawer Foldaway Desk: Perfect for your sewing machine or serger! Constructed from durable melamine laminated particle board the Mobile Desks will offer a life time of reliable service.

If you need specific sewing supplies, browse through the products on pages like these:


For skirts, both the waist and hip measurements can be compared with the measurements on the Envelope.

  • The hipline is established on a pattern at 9” (23 cm) below the waistline for Misses’ and Women’s sizes and at 7” (18 cm) below the waistline for Misses’ Petites.
  • It is essential for a comfortable and attractive fit that you have the right hip fit in the exact spot. Find the target symbol for the hipline and compare the measurement to your measurements.
  • Usually the garment’s finished length is given on the pattern envelope or you can measure the actual pattern pieces along the center back. Compare it with your personal skirt length measurement.

skirt measurements

The following pages explain all the specific procedures you will need for personal fitting pattern adjustments. The changes you will make are divided into two categories. Adjustments are minor changes that are made “in the flat” on your pattern tissue before you cut your fabric or muslin.

Note: Test any changes to a pattern first in a fabric other than your fashion fabric. This test fabric should have the same general characteristics as your fashion fabric. Once you become familiar with the differences in your body contours and the patterns, you may be able to skip this step.

All the changes are clearly illustrated for you. Only the front pattern pieces are shown for adjustments, since equal changes are made for the front and back pattern pieces. So that you may relate your adjustments to everything you sew, we will also show you how to make them on other basic shapes, (princess lines, raglan sleeves, etc.) when applicable.

Alterations are major changes that are made on the muslin fitting shell to ensure they will relate to your body contours. Alterations are more localized, may not require changes on both front and back pieces, and thus only the affected pieces are shown. Our dedicated section, Advanced Pattern Alterations, has more details on alteration.

PREV: Identify Hem Lengths Next: Flat Pattern Adjustments HOME

Monday, 2008-06-09 13:03 PST