How to Lengthen or Shorten a Paper Sewing Patterns

back length for pattern alterations
If you need to make simple length adjustments to your paper sewing patterns. Then follow these simple tips, using the following diagrams, and you can adjust your patterns exactly the length you need to. 
 
Most commercial standard ladies patterns are made for an average height between  167cm (5´6″) to  173cm (5´8″).
 
If you are outside this range, you will probably need to adjust the pattern. 
 
The first measurement needed is your back length, from the nape of the neck along the spine to your waist.  Shown in this diagram marked in Purple. 
 
Compare your back length to the sewing pattern, allowing for different necklines. Use a body sloper (block) pattern as your go-to template. This will help with getting the best results out of every pattern.
how to lengthen or shorten pattern

To Lengthen a Sewing Pattern

Modern printed patterns will usually have lines marked at the correct places to lengthen or shorten.

To lengthen, cut this line and spread it apart. Then place it on tracing paper and tape with the extra width added.

how to lengthen and shorten a sewing pattern

To Shorten a Sewing Pattern

To shorten the pattern fold on this line, remember to only take half the required length as the paper is folded double. 

Measure again to check it’s correct and tape or pin the folded pattern.

lengthen dress pattern

To Lengthen a Dress Pattern

Use the lines marked on the paper pattern.

For older vintage patterns without printed markings, then mark lines yourself above the waistline on the bodice. Then do the same just below the hips on the skirt. 

Cut and spread them apart, then place tracing paper underneath and tape once the length has been added.

shorten a dress sewing pattern

To Shorten a Dress Pattern

To shorten a dress pattern use the lines marked on the paper pattern or for older vintage patterns without and printed markings, mark lines yourself  above the waistline on bodice and just bellow the hips on the skirt. 

Fold along the line and measure half the distance you want to shorten as the paper is doubled. 

Pin or tape the fold in place once the new length is correct. 

alter a one piece sleeve

To Shorten a Sleeve Pattern

To shorten a one-piece sleeve pattern use the lengthen/shorten lines printed, or make your own lines, positioned as indicated in the diagram.

Fold on these lines and tape or pin once the desired adjustment has been made.

lengthen shorten two piece sleeve

To Shorten a Two-Piece Sleeve Pattern

For a two-part sleeve, proceed exactly the same as a one-part sleeve above.

The only difference is, you need to check the two pattern pieces against each other. Make sure the adjustments are exactly the same and the seam lengths are the same. 

Remember that a two-part sleeve may well have ease added to a curved edge, so check pattern seam lengths both before and after altering and make sure you do no eliminate this ease by mistake. 

lengthen shorten kimono

Simple Adjustment for a Kimono Top

A kimono style top is one of the simplest, and the adjustments are as shown in the diagram.

A single fold/extension to body length and sleeve is sufficient.

lengthen shorts pattern

Lengthen/Shorten Short Patterns

To adjust shorts, the adjustment line is across the rise section, from gusset to waistband.

Either add or subtract length along this line in the same way as above for the other pattern pieces. 

Lengthen/Shorten a Trouser Patterns

Full-length trousers will need to be adjusted in both the rise section, between gusset and waistband and also in leg length, as shown in this diagram.

Either add or subtract length along this line in the same way as above for the other pattern pieces. 

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