How to Resize a Pattern

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No matter how well designed a pattern may be, it cannot fit each individual perfectly. Each human body has its own quirks, and each person has different fitting needs. You may find that you need to enlarge a pattern beyond the sizes available on the sheet, or you might need to shrink it. Perhaps you would like to reduce a woman’s pattern to fit a little girl. Or maybe you found an out-of-print pattern you’d love to make … but the sizes are too small for you. Anything is possible once you know the basics of resizing patterns! And it isn’t hard at all — it just takes a bit of time and work. I’m here to show you how it is done so that you will never be limited by pre-printed pattern pieces again!
The method for shrinking or enlarging the pattern pieces is similar for each piece. Throughout this section, I will assume you are starting from a size 12 and will show you how to size down one size (to a 10) and up one size (to a 14). From there, you will be able to do all the rest of the sizes!


The Tools of the Trade

Before you begin, I recommend that you have the following tools at hand:

  • Cardboard cutting surface with one-inch grid (available at any fabric store)
  • French curve(s) — plastic curves to help you trace your armholes, necklines and other curves (you can get these from Sew True)
  • Swedish interfacing (available at Birch Street Clothing) or heavy-duty pattern paper (like vellum)
  • Tracing paper (available by the roll from architectural supply stores)
  • Sharpie markers for tracing
  • Pins
  • Scissors

Getting Started: The Bodice

First, let’s start with a bodice front. If you want to enlarge the bodice, first trace the bodice piece onto Swedish interfacing or sturdy tracing paper, so you have a piece you can slash for resizing. To size up to the 14, slash the bodice front like this:


Notice that you are splitting down the center of the underarm, the center of the shoulder and the center of the neckline/bust. You will split the back bodice piece in exactly the same manner. Now, the difference between size 12 and size 14 in the bust area is two inches (12 is 34″; 14 is 36″). You want to add evenly to the front and back bodice pieces, which means adding a total of one inch to each piece. Now half that again, since you are adding to only one half of the bodice, and that means you have a total of 1/2″ to add to the bodice front and back pieces. Here is what the pattern piece will look like when you spread it apart:


In your typical Simplicity pattern, the computer splits up the half inch and adds 1/3 of it at each place where the pattern has been split. I do not recommend this! This method often creates a very bad fit, particularly in the shoulder area. The biggest complaint I hear from women over a size 22 is that shoulders on most modern patterns are way too wide for their size. Just because someone’s bustline is larger does not mean she has linebacker shoulders! So my suggestion is that you size the shoulders up only slightly and only for size 18 or 20 (then just keep that new width for the rest of the big sizes unless you do happen to be particularly broad in the shoulders). Same with sizing down — just make them smaller for sizes 10 and under — and only slightly smaller. I’d recommend that you add nothing to the shoulder split to go from size 12 to size 14 (or 16). Instead, add 1/4″ to the bust split and 1/4″ to the underarm split. For size 18, add 1/8″ to the shoulder split, then 1/8″ to the underarm split and 1/4″ to the bust split. Most women find they need more room in the bust — not in the shoulder area.
To draw the newly sized pattern piece, first roll out your tracing paper (not interfacing) on your grid board. Pin the starter pattern piece (in your starting size) to the tracing paper, using your grid lines to help you keep things straight, like this:


Now trace around it so you have your first piece “set in stone.”


Now split your first pattern piece and spread it as I explained above to go up to your next size:


Here’s a close-up so you can see the 1/4″ spread:


Now trace all the way around the spread piece, omitting the shoulder for now, and you end up with this:


Here’s a close-up of how the shoulder and neckline will look:


Now, most patterns add about an eighth of an inch to a quarter of an inch to the top of the shoulder and the neckline, since you assume that larger sizes need more room in the bustline and will need more length in the bodice front. Even this small amount at the shoulder adds a helpful amount to the overall fit of the bodice. Now, you add to the neckline because you added to the shoulder — if you didn’t add to the neckline, it would be lower, and you don’t want to do that.
So, adding to the shoulder looks like this:


Adding to the neckline looks like this:

Okay, let’s go ahead and size down before we talk about some other issues around the neckline and shoulder area.
Pin your split pattern down again, this time overlapping where you had spread the pattern last time, like this:


Here’s a close-up of that overlap:


Trace around this pattern, then “shrink” the shoulder and neckline, so your final pattern looks like this:


Okay, now you’re probably wondering about that shoulder area. The shoulder “moves” a bit with each size, as you can see. You end up with a jumble of lines running from the neckline to the shoulder as you go. If you’ve looked at my patterns (and practically any other pattern on the market), you know that I have one smooth line running from the neckline to the shoulder for all sizes together. That’s because doing things “by the numbers” (which is what a computer design program is going to do) always turns out patterns like that. What you want to learn to do is to smoothly blend the pattern pieces together so that you don’t have a neckline that is “all over the map.” The first way to learn to do this is to trace each new pattern size individually (not on top of the last one). When you have all the pattern sizes traced out, you can lay them down, one on top of the other (largest on the bottom, smallest on the top) and line up the neckline edges so they meet. Then you trace your master pattern off this conglomeration, and it will look something like this:


After you’ve been working on pattern sizing for a while, you’ll just get an eye for how sizing works, and you will not even need to split patterns any longer. You will be able to trace your master piece, then add to it at the appropriate places (armhole, shoulder, side seam, neckline). Splitting patterns and spreading will be your “training wheels” until you become confident enough to just draw out the new sizes using your measuring tape and french curves!


Special Help for Long- and Short-Waisted Ladies

If you are as short-waisted as I am (15″ from nape to waist), you already know that the waistline of just about every average pattern hits you on the hipline. To correct this, there is usually a “Miss Petite” line across the pattern to show you where you can shorten the bodice (or lengthen it if you’re long-waisted). You can do this on any pattern with or without the “Miss Petite” line. Just pick a spot about two inches above the waistline and draw a horizontal line across the pattern, like this:


If you are short-waisted, you can just fold the pattern down at this spot to match your waistline (plus 5/8″ for a seam allowance). If you are long-waisted, you just slash and spread like you’ve been doing above.

For bodices of unusual shapes, like the one in my 1940s “Swing” Dress pattern, you’ll need to tweak a few lines after folding down the bodice. I’ve illustrated this below:

This image shows the bodice as-is with the lengthen/shorten line across the center in red (you can click any of these images for a larger version):

In the next image, you see the bodice folded down to accommodate a short waist. I’ve circled the “problem” area this creates:

As you can see, the long line of the bodice front no longer matches. To fix this, simply use a straightedge to redraw the line so that it runs smoothly from above the shorten line to the lower point:

As you see, this shaves off that problem line that is sticking out, but you still have the continuous line of the bodice front from top to bottom. For the bodice back, you’ll do the same thing. First, here’s the bodice back with the fold line in red and the arrow pointing down to show that you’ll fold the bodice down the required amount for your nape-to-waist measurement:

The next image shows the bodice shortened, and I’ve again circled the “problem” area:

The size lines no longer match up at the side seam, so you’ll once again grab your ruler and simply smooth them back out:

That’s it! Always start at the top and work your way down to keep the sizing accurate, since the size just below the armohole hasn’t been altered in any way by shortening the bodice. By the time you reach the bottom of the bodice side seam, your new line matches up perfectly.


Further Tips for Making a Child’s Pattern

To shrink an adult pattern down to fit a child, you will slash and spread not only vertically, but horizontally, as shown here:

The armhole of an adult pattern is going to be far too large for a child, so you will need to shrink it by overlapping the pattern at the upper line (you can fold, but I think it is easier to slash and overlap). To determine the correct depth of the armhole, measure the child from the top of the shoulder down to her underarm “seam.” An easier way to do this is to find a garment that fits the child nicely (a tailored shirt or dress with a comfy armhole), then measure that from the shoulder seam down around to the underarm seam. Add 5/8″ to the shoulder and side seam for your seam allowance, and there is your front armscye (armhole) measurement. You can repeat this for the back, then just double-check to make sure the side seams of the bodice front and back match correctly. Use your french curve to redraw the armhole curve (which will look a bit funny after you’ve overlapped the bodice at this point!). The old armhole will be a guide to help you see where the new curve needs to go…only the new curve will be a miniature of the old.
The rest of the adult bodice is going to be too long-waisted for a small child as well, so that’s where you’ll use the other vertical line. Just shorten the bodice as you would for a short-waisted woman, taking up as much as is necessary to place the waistline at the child’s waist (or empire waist, as the case may be), plus 5/8″ for your seam allowance. Ta-da!


Make Muslin Your Best Friend!

Now, obviously, testing pattern pieces in muslin plays a very important role here. You want to test your new pattern pieces and fit them to a properly sized mannequin (or yourself or the person for whom the new pattern was made). You sometimes discover fitting quirks (like shoulders that are too wide for the average) when you do this, and you can adjust the toile to fit. When the toile is to your liking, you take it apart and trace it as your final pattern piece.


The Rest of the Pattern

Okay, I can close up this section with a few quick instructions on sleeves and skirts. Skirts are easiest to size up, particularly if you are just using a basic two-piece skirt (front and back). You don’t need to split the skirt at all, just add the appropriate amount to the side seam, like this:


Obviously, your french curves will be your best friend on hipline curves!

Now, for a gored skirt, you only need to add to the gores that have the side seams (side front and side back, usually) until you get up around size 22. At that point, it is a good idea to distribute the amount you’ll be adding evenly between the side seam gore and the center front gore (so the center front doesn’t look ridiculously small in comparison).

Now, if you are one size in the bust or waist and another in the hips, you’ll need to “grade” between sizes in order to make the skirt (particularly a more fitted skirt) work properly. This is not at all difficult. Here’s an example using my Regency Gown pattern. Let’s suppose you measure at a size 20 in the bust for this empire-waist style, but you measure at 24 in the hips. My original pattern goes up to size 18, but you can use the 18-26 supplement to give you the larger bodice. From there, you just need to draft the skirt, sizing up from the original. First, measure out from the 18 and mark a line for a 20 “waist”:

Now go down to the hip and measure out to the correct amount for a size 24:

Now use a hipline curve tool to connect the 20 waist to the 24 hip, smoothly transitioning between the two, then following the 24 all the way down to the hem:


What about resizing sleeves?

For sleeves, you split the pattern piece in three to spread it, like this:


You will add to the sleeve only the amount that was added to the side seam of the bodice, since only the armhole enlargement affects the sleeve. Measure that amount (say 1/4″) and divide it into thirds. You need the least amount added at the curve and the most at the underarm/sleeve seams. On the smallest sizes (6-12), you really don’t need to add to the curve at all — you can just add 1/8″ at the splits on each underarm curve. For the larger pieces where you’ve added more to the armhole of the bodice, you can add 1/8″ to the curve, then divide the rest of the amount evenly between the splits at the underarm curves. These rules apply to any kind of sleeve — long, short, fitted, puffed. Whatever you added to the bodice armhole must be added to the sleeve. Obviously, you can get away with fudging a puffed sleeve, but that won’t work on a fitted sleeve! And, obviously, if you’re making a child’s sleeve out of an adult sleeve, you’ll need to slash horizontally as well as vertically to shrink the sleeve overall.

That is it! It really isn’t hard at all — just work. I freely admit that this is the part of pattern drafting I like the least. It is just “grunt work.” But once you have your final pattern, the sense of accomplishment is immense! There is nothing like a custom-fitted pattern to take your sewing to new heights of accomplishment!

252 Comments on How to Resize a Pattern

  1. Raine
    May 16, 2010 at 8:09 am (5 years ago)

    Thanks, this is a great help! I often buy vintage patterns that are beautiful, but just two sizes too small, or vice versa. Now I know how to fit them to me.

    Reply
  2. Your Name Vintage Values at Ebay
    May 16, 2010 at 4:25 pm (5 years ago)

    What a wonderful service to all sewers. It takes the mystery out of re-sizing. I am glad to refer my customers to your site to help them out.

    Reply
  3. Heidi Lange
    May 17, 2010 at 3:06 pm (5 years ago)

    Thank you so much for posting this! I’m upsizing a vintage pattern, and I’ve looked through about fifteen sewing manuals (including old ones from the 1940s) without finding anything nearly as helpful as your website. Thanks again!

    Reply
  4. Jennifer
    May 19, 2010 at 2:40 am (5 years ago)

    This is SO helpful!

    Most women in the thirties through sixties did not wear size eighteen like me. The only question now, is figuring out what the vintage size is in modern terms, before I buy them to upsize. because twelve in the sixties and twelve today are not the same. Hmmm.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      May 19, 2010 at 8:53 am (5 years ago)

      Hi, Jennifer! Vintage sizes changed radically over the years. Back in the 1910s and into the ’20s, the size was your bust measurement, so you could be a size 36! That was later considered off-putting, so measurements were assigned to a number (like a 36 bust to a 12). As with all patterns, check the measurement chart to see where you line up. Then you’ll be ready to resize from there! :-)

      Reply
  5. Corrine Loyola
    May 21, 2010 at 10:13 am (5 years ago)

    I like three quarter sleeves rather than short sleeves. Can you recommend the proper way to lengthen a sleeve? How do you up-size collar pieces at the neckline after you have up-sized the bodice? One more question, how do you properly reduce a waistline in comparison to the hip? When I get patterns that are appropriate for my hip size I always need to drastically reduce the waist. How is this properly completed? Finally, I am having problems finding quality fabrics. It seems that everything is made to be a quilt. Which is fine if you want to make a quilt but not if you want to make a wool suit. Any suggestions? – Thanks

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      May 21, 2010 at 10:58 am (5 years ago)

      Hi, Corrine! Here are answers to your questions in order:

      1. To lengthen a sleeve, you simply slash it in half horizontally through the middle and spread the pieces apart the amount desired.
      2. You size up collar pieces the same way you sized up the bodice — slashing vertically in the center, then vertically at the side curve (which corresponds with the shoulder area). If you have a pattern piece that calls for cutting on the fold, you just back it away from the fold the proper amount, then slash and spread the curved edge (which adds to both sides of the collar, naturally).
      3. To see how to grade a pattern for different sizes in two areas, see my Easy Alterations article. While the method is applied there to a Regency gown, the same principles work on other styles. Very few of us are a single size–most of us are one size in the bust, another in the waist, and sometimes yet another in the hips! Grading between sizes ensures a perfect fit.
      4. Finally, there are wonderful sources of wool online, including Denver Fabrics, which has a wide selection of wool. Also see my Sewing and Fabric Links for more!

      Hope this helps,

      Warmly,
      Jennie

      Reply
  6. Vanessa Peters
    May 21, 2010 at 8:20 pm (5 years ago)

    This is a great site. The re-sizing information is really helpful. I have lots of vintage patterns that are too small that I can now size up.

    Reply
  7. rhiannon
    May 26, 2010 at 10:20 am (5 years ago)

    Wonderful, thanks for this information. Now all those beautiful patterns I have bought can be made to fit me. i am so excited and cannot wait for my order from you to arrive so I can start upsizing and sewing. Wonderful site.

    Reply
  8. Jodieth
    May 28, 2010 at 3:19 pm (5 years ago)

    Thank you so much for this information. I need the upsizing on top, but still same on bottom of my old patterns and vintage ones I have bought

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      May 28, 2010 at 4:32 pm (5 years ago)

      Sure thing! Very few of us fit one standard “size” as-is. Most of us need to make adjustments between bust, waist, and hip. See my “easy alterations” article for how to grade between two different sizes on the same pattern. :)

      Reply
  9. beth
    June 5, 2010 at 2:05 pm (5 years ago)

    How can I resize a child’s pinafore? The vintage pattern I have consists of only two pieces -one for the pinafore and one for some bloomers. I need to size it down. My pattern is a size 3, but the child I’m making it for is age two; however, she is slim, and her measurements are between that of a size 1/2 and a size one. So, I need to keep the length for it that of a size 2, but I need the pinafore a bloomers to fit her measurements. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      June 5, 2010 at 4:53 pm (5 years ago)

      Hello, Beth!

      Without seeing the pattern pieces, it’s a little hard to tell you where to resize, but the principles I’ve given here are the same across all pattern types — you basically just need to take it in by slashing in the center front, shoulder and underarm (then center back, shoulder, and underarm) and overlap the pieces to take up the needed amount. If you’d like to email me some photos, I can give you a little more help on where to slash and overlap.

      Warmly,
      Jennie

      Reply
  10. Leslie
    June 21, 2010 at 9:09 am (5 years ago)

    My local fabric store also sells rolls of that white paper they use at doctor’s offices on the exam table. It’s inexpensive and a good width for tracing patterns. It’s somewhat opaque but sturdy.

    Reply
  11. Marlene Lovett
    June 25, 2010 at 11:09 am (5 years ago)

    I have a size 12 that I wish to reduce to a size 8 only on the neck line, collar, shoulders. It is a vintage pattern #7898 western shirt. If there was a size 10 someplace, that would be great.

    Thanks,

    Marlene

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      June 25, 2010 at 1:32 pm (5 years ago)

      Marlene,

      You can use my instructions to reduce only that area. If you’ll check my tutorial under “Easy Alterations,” you’ll see how to ease between sizes when you need a larger size on bottom than on top (or vice versa).

      Hope this helps!

      Warmly,
      Jennie

      Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      August 7, 2010 at 9:33 am (5 years ago)

      Hello, “Me!”

      I actually have that book and have used flat pattern-making techniques for years. What is in this tutorial is the result of 15 years of pattern resizing, pulling together several vintage and modern approaches to get a process that requires a minimum of fuss or technical expertise. I have further fitting tips to tweak areas that crop up due to particular body shapes and styles, since no two women are identical when it comes to getting a lovely custom fit.

      What I don’t like about a lot of modern pattern sizing techniques is that they add too much room in the shoulders and bust as the sizes go up. This is especially true for plus sizes, which often end up with “linebacker” shoulders–LOL! So the method here is designed to prevent oversizing in key areas. Where ladies do need more room, those adjustments can easily be made during the toile-making process in front of a mirror. I’ve found this especially key for vintage styles that do not fit like conventional modern garments.

      Hope this helps, and book recommendations are always good to share. I also recommend Rene’ Bergh’s book, Make Your Own Patterns.

      Warmly,
      Jennie

      Reply
  12. Moira
    August 8, 2010 at 4:35 am (5 years ago)

    How about resizing for busty ladies?

    Reply
  13. Elaine L. Duerre
    August 9, 2010 at 10:18 pm (5 years ago)

    My Dear Lady, Jennie:
    Thank you for this site. For the past week I have been working on sewing for my Great-grand-daughter who is 5yr. and starting school. I have many vintage patterns (45 years old and older) Is that vintage? The patterns are size 8 and I need to resize down to a size 6…your resizing is very helpful. Thank you. During my week long search I emailed Simplicity and asked them for help, in how to resize a pattern. Today I got a reply that rather shocked me. They told me to take my pattern to Kinko’s and percentage wise make it smaller. I was about to write back and give this adviser a peice of my mind…when I found your site. I think I will still email them back, just so they don’t tell some poor sewer to do that. My gilrs patterns are simple little A line dresses with no waist or sleeves just a simple little dress. Thank you Elaine

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      August 10, 2010 at 1:39 pm (5 years ago)

      Yikes, Elaine! It is illegal to copy copyrighted patterns, so I cannot imagine Simplicity sanctioning that. You are right! I hope you enjoy this tutorial, and have fun sizing your vintage patterns!

      Reply
  14. Sabrina
    August 21, 2010 at 8:20 pm (5 years ago)

    Thank you , thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been struggling to figure out how to properly resize patterns! I make cloth diapers and trainers and other cloth products from my own patterns I have created. I create them for my own child, and have been having such difficulty adjusting the sizes up and down for other children. But reading this over makes me realize what I was doing wrong and where I need to put my cutting lines. THANK YOU!!!! Also, now I understand why every dress I resize for my mom in the top has been very ill fitting in the shoulder area! I was following other resizing instructions and they weren’t quite working. I am going to try this out the next time I make her a dress! THANK YOU! I will be recommending you to all my friends!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      August 21, 2010 at 8:47 pm (5 years ago)

      You’re welcome, Sabrina! I am so happy to help. Be sure to also see my page of fitting tips, because they address other problem areas (like narrow shoulders, low bust-point, and short-waisted silhouettes). Have fun!

      Reply
  15. Peggy
    August 25, 2010 at 11:26 am (5 years ago)

    Thank you for putting this up, but I was wondering how would you make a pants pattern larger or smaller would you cut it in 2, the center of the crotch and the center of the waist?

    Reply
      • Peggy
        September 3, 2010 at 2:03 pm (5 years ago)

        Thank you, I was able to download it. I was wondering if you know how to adjust a pattern that has an elastic waist to a pattern that has a zipper in it? I was told to convert from a zipper to elastic in the pattern you just have to make the waist line bigger, do I just make the waist smaller to convert from a elastic to zipper by putting in darts and reshaping the waist line?

        Reply
  16. Jennie Chancey
    September 3, 2010 at 3:08 pm (5 years ago)

    Hi, Peggy! You definitely do not want to make the waistline bigger if you are moving from elastic to zipper. It needs to be taken in with darts or gentle grading from hipline up to waist. Hope that helps!

    Reply
    • Peggy
      September 4, 2010 at 4:11 pm (5 years ago)

      Hi Jennie, thanks for all your help, I appreciate it very much.

      Reply
  17. Laura
    October 9, 2010 at 11:05 pm (5 years ago)

    Can you share instructions on:
    -how to make the long sleeve for the normal regency dress pattern fit an extremely chubby upper arm, yet still fit into the armhole.
    -how to expand the elbow length sleeves for the ELC regency dress for a chubby upper arm as well so it fits the bodice.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 10, 2010 at 10:09 pm (5 years ago)

      Hi, Laura! Because the long sleeves are supposed to be gathered, you can just enlarge them by slashing from the upper curve diagonally toward the center of the sleeve just below the bicep area — meaning the slashes will look fan-shaped rather than like stripes. You will slash in the same three places (center of curve and on either side). When you “fan out” the slashes, that will add room to the upper portion of the sleeve and not to the whole sleeve, so you’ll still get a good fit below the elbow. Make a mock-up in muslin and test it by basting it into the bodice. You may have to tweak the slashes a bit to get the perfect fit, but you’ll be glad you did. :)

      The ELC sleeve is a little trickier only because it is not shaped like a conventional sleeve at the top. That just changes where you slash. You need a slash at the center of the big curve then two slashes in the underarm curve (spaced about two inches apart). Again, a bit of experimentation with muslin will show you exactly how the slashes behave. Have fun!

      Reply
  18. Sophie
    October 17, 2010 at 2:32 am (5 years ago)

    Hi Jennie, Thanks so much for this article – I think, in theory, I’ve almost got my head around resizing! Just a query though – you mentioned sizing an adult pattern down for a child, but would you have any tips for resizing a 1960s girls’ size 14 (32-26-35) majorette dress up to a modern adult size 8 (36-28-38)? (I know it’s going to be something of an adventure, probably ill-fated, but really none of the more contemporary patterns appealed to me.) Any tips particular to this venture would be appreciated :)

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 17, 2010 at 6:12 pm (5 years ago)

      Hi, Sophie! If the girls’ 14 is designed for a girl who already has a woman’s shape, it will not be very hard to size up, because it already has the shaping in place for the bustline. If it is designed for a real child, though, then it will need significant alterations in the bodice. It would actually be easier in that case to find a similar bodice from an adult pattern and use it instead — then size up the sleeves and skirt to fit. Hope this helps!

      Reply
      • Sophie
        November 3, 2010 at 5:48 am (5 years ago)

        Hi Jennie,
        Thanks for that tip. It ended up being that the majorette dress bodice did already have a woman’s shape, so I just followed your instructions as per above. The dress turned out amazing. Thanks so much for sharing such clear, straight-forward guidelines for resizing! :)

        Reply
        • Jennie Chancey
          November 5, 2010 at 1:10 pm (5 years ago)

          I am so glad, Sophie!

  19. Gina
    October 28, 2010 at 3:23 pm (5 years ago)

    How about princess style, both front and back? I’m working on a 1850s bodice that has the extreme princess cut in back. How do I make it smaller?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 28, 2010 at 3:33 pm (5 years ago)

      The same principles apply, Gina, but you have to slash vertically all the way from top to hem if that’s how the gown works. If you want to email me some pictures, I will be able to assist you more accurately. Thanks!

      Reply
  20. debera Morrow
    November 13, 2010 at 3:30 am (5 years ago)

    Hello, I hope you can help me. I am have gone from a size 24 to size 32 and need new clothes. I have lots of size 24 patterns, but I don’t know how to change them so that they
    are size 32. Can this be done???
    Debera from Australia

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      November 16, 2010 at 7:21 pm (5 years ago)

      Hi, Debera! The instructions given here work for any size. Just follow the steps, taking careful measurements of the original pattern and doing the math to see how far up you need to size them. That will do the trick!

      Reply
  21. Jessica
    December 6, 2010 at 11:16 pm (4 years ago)

    Hi,

    Loved the explanations. I would like to sew from 1950’s patterns, however, the waists are too small and the hips too big. So, how do I make a 28 waist, 38 hip into a 31 waist and 36 hip? Thank you!

    Reply
  22. DeAnna
    January 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm (4 years ago)

    Thanks so much! I am currently sewing dresses for our nieces wedding and the candle lighter’s dress pattern needs to be sized down. This really helps!

    Reply
  23. Julia
    February 9, 2011 at 3:03 pm (4 years ago)

    Hello,
    I recently bought a vintage pattern off ebay which is about an inch too small for me in the waist and two inches too small in the bust. The whole bodice/skirt is separated into 4 front and 4 back pieces(vertical)and it has short puffed raglan-like sleeves. What is the best way to enlarge this type of pattern?
    Thanks :)

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      February 10, 2011 at 3:13 am (4 years ago)

      Hello, Julia! Sounds like a princess-line dress. Is it? That means the bodice and skirt pieces are together and the whole dress is joined with vertical seams. You can follow the same directions for enlarging the pattern, but you will need to grade out the bodice section to be larger than the waist. First enlarge each piece to match the correct measurement for your waist. Once you have those new pieces traced, pin-baste them for a try-on, because the bust might actually fit fine once the waist is enlarged (there is often much more ease in the bust area than in the waist). If you still find you need more room in the bust, you can slash the upper portion of each piece from neckline to waist (but not any lower) and widen the slash to make a pie-shaped wedge, adding more room in the bust but not to the shoulders or back. It will take some experimenting, because (depending on your cup size), you may also need to slash horizontally from side seam to bust to add more room there. I hope this helps!

      Reply
  24. Julia
    February 10, 2011 at 11:26 am (4 years ago)

    Yes, it is a princess-line dress then, i was wondering if that was what to call it, but i wasn’t sure. I will try what you said, Thanks alot and blessings :)

    Reply
  25. Heidi
    February 17, 2011 at 8:28 am (4 years ago)

    Thank you, Thank you!!!! This is wonderful to find this help. I am getting so frustrated with sewing and trying to get things to fit!! I will pass your site on to all my friends that sew.

    Reply
  26. margaret
    March 10, 2011 at 5:53 am (4 years ago)

    Hi there, Jennie. I have a modern dress pattern I wish to make, but holding it up to another similar shop-bought dress, the pattern armhole is a lot less deeper than the bought dress, and as I have quite large upper arms I know that the pattern won’t fit. Would it be easy to alter the pattern armhole? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      March 10, 2011 at 9:44 am (4 years ago)

      Hi, Margaret! Yes, older patterns do often have very small armholes. Trace out the bodice pieces onto interfacing or heavy paper (so you don’t destroy your original vintage pattern), then flatten the store-bought dress and line up its armhole over each piece (front and back). Trace the shape of the armhole (it will be different front and back), then recut the armholes on the new “master” pattern pieces. Test the fit in muslin to make sure the armholes are comfortable. Once that is done, you’ll need to enlarge the sleeves to fit the new armhole. Measure the difference between the old armhole and the new one, then add that amount to the sleeve curve, using the “slash and spread” method shown in this tutorial. Test-fit one sleeve in muslin to make sure it looks and feels right. That’s all there is to it!

      Reply
      • margaret
        March 10, 2011 at 11:31 am (4 years ago)

        Thank you, Jennie. I did not expect such a quick response to my query; you must have a busy lifestyle being a young mum. I feel a bit more confident tackling my dress. I haven’t done any dressmaking for many years. Thank you once again. I am keeping your website in my favourites column and will recommend it to another sewing forum I came across this week. Best regards, Margaret

        Reply
  27. Jennie Chancey
    March 10, 2011 at 12:39 pm (4 years ago)

    You’re welcome, Margaret! It helps that I am eight hours ahead of the Eastern Time Zone and three hours ahead of London. I check the site and answer email after the children are in bed, but everyone else is still in the middle of their day. 😉

    Reply
  28. Liz Hoffman
    March 24, 2011 at 11:14 am (4 years ago)

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! I can’t tell you how helpful this tutorial is. As a plus-size costume designer, I have been trying for years to figure out how to resize vintage patterns for myself for costumes. You = godsend

    Reply
  29. Jude Duenweg
    April 2, 2011 at 11:17 am (4 years ago)

    Hi. This was very informative, and I plan to use it to increase a J.P. Ryan Polonaise pattern from a size 8 to a size 12. Right now I’m hunting for a few of the required supplies.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  30. alana Simon
    April 17, 2011 at 9:47 am (4 years ago)

    Thank you so much! this was REALLY informative. I’m still searching for many of the tools you’ve mentioned, but I wonder, could you recommend a good dress form? Thanks so much :)

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      April 18, 2011 at 3:02 am (4 years ago)

      Alana, any old dressform will work (Twin Fit, Singer, etc.), but I strongly recommend buying Fabulous Fit’s foam fitting system (that works over a conventional mannequin). That will allow you to really get a custom shape on your mannequin (and it’s pinnable!). Hope this helps!

      Reply
      • alana Simon
        April 19, 2011 at 8:30 am (4 years ago)

        WOW! Thank you so much! You have no idea how valuable your expertise and advice is to me. I’ve been waffling back and forth as to which dress form to purchase since I’m in between the small and med. Now with Fabulous Fit I don’t have to knock my head against the wall trying to make a decision.I had no idea this stuff was available..THANK YOU AGAIN! :)

        Reply
  31. Bonnie Corley
    April 21, 2011 at 12:11 am (4 years ago)

    Love this, I have some old patterns my daughter wants dresses from, had no idea how to make them larger till now. But how would you enlarge a collar on a dress? Please could you help with that. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      April 22, 2011 at 8:49 am (4 years ago)

      Hi, Bonnie! It’s actually very simple. Since you enlarge the bodice at center front, shoulder, and center back, you will need to enlarge the collar in the same places. That means slashing the collar in the center, then midway (at shoulder point) and adding width at the front edges. Measure the new neckline curve after enlarging the bodice and double-check the collar’s new measurements against that for accuracy. You’ll also want to double-check the curve to make sure it will match accurately. Just experiment in muslin, and you’ll have it!

      Reply
    • Bonnie Corely
      April 22, 2011 at 11:31 am (4 years ago)

      Thanks so much, sounds like i might be able to make my daughter this wonderful dress after all! with your help. It will be great if it all works out, she loves vintage clothing but its getting harder to find peices that will fit or that or in good enough condition to wear. This is a great site, I will be back!!lol

      Reply
  32. Audrey
    April 21, 2011 at 8:22 am (4 years ago)

    Great article. Very clear and the pictures are especially helpful. Pictures are very rarely included in books that describe this technique. I got the link to this post from an Etsy vendor selling vintage patterns. A good marketing technique on her part since many of the older patterns are in smaller sizes. I have quite a collection of vintage patterns in a variety of sizes. I will definately try this method.

    Reply
  33. Raia Bryan
    April 28, 2011 at 1:31 pm (4 years ago)

    Looks like a great tutorial and I cant wait to try it, although I am confused about the sizing.
    You said the bust for size 12 is 34″. It says on the 50s pattern I have here that size 12 bust is 30″.

    Reply
  34. Raia Bryan
    April 28, 2011 at 1:36 pm (4 years ago)

    P.S.
    I am hoping to change my size 12 pattern (which says bust 30″ waist 25″) into a size 16 pattern (says bust 34″ waist 28″)

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      April 30, 2011 at 6:51 am (4 years ago)

      Raia, pattern sizes were different in the 1950s. Don’t go by size–go by measurements. Just note what measurements you are starting with on the vintage pattern and scale up from there. :-)

      Reply
      • Raia Bryan
        May 4, 2011 at 4:02 pm (4 years ago)

        I was wondering about sizing up the skirt front and back. I am going up two inches in waist size, do I then add one inch to the side seam of both the skirt front and back or just add two inches to the front or back side seam
        thanks!

        Reply
  35. Raia Bryan
    May 4, 2011 at 5:27 pm (4 years ago)

    One more question! :)
    I was wondering about the remaining pattern pieces I have:
    – sleeve facing
    – waist back facing
    – armhole facing front/back
    – and my dress pattern has a “peter pan” collar

    how do I deal with these pieces in terms of resizing?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      May 5, 2011 at 1:43 am (4 years ago)

      Hi, Raia! First, on the skirt, you can just add an inch to each side seam (front and back). If you were adding more than three inches, you’d need to slash and spread the skirt pieces both front and back as shown in the diagrams for the bodice pieces to proportionally enlarge the skirt. But for such a small amount, adding to the side seams is fine. You wouldn’t add the full amount to just front or back, because the skirt would not match the bodice at the side seams. 😉

      For instructions on the collar, jump up to my reply to Bonnie’s comment (second above yours). Instructions are just about identical for facings — you slash and spread in the same places as you do the collar to make the facings match the bodice neckline and armholes.

      Have fun sewing!

      Reply
  36. Sharon
    May 18, 2011 at 8:01 am (4 years ago)

    I am going to try your method to resize a shirt pattern, it is 28 inches chest at the moment and I would like to make it 36″ is that too much of a jump? any tips and I was wondering if I need to add to the sleeve curve and length of the body?
    many thanks

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      May 18, 2011 at 10:48 am (4 years ago)

      Hi, Sharon! Ten inches is a big jump, but if you are taking care to check your fit by making a muslin toile, you will be fine. You will definitely need to add to the sleeve curve to fit the larger armhole that will result when you enlarge the bodice. As for length, you will need to check that, as it depends on your bust measurement (cup size). If you’re an “A”, you will not have to add any length. Sometimes you won’t have to add it even for a “B” cup. But for “C” or larger, you will need to add length in a gradual curve from side seam to front to allow for “lift.” Hope this helps!

      Reply
  37. dragonzflame
    May 22, 2011 at 10:44 pm (4 years ago)

    This looks great! I just made a test run of a 1943 DuBarry pattern, which is in several long pieces, and I knew it was going to be a couple of inches too small in the bust. What I didn’t expect was that it actually fits almost right in the bust itself but is incredibly tight in the waist and baggy round the shoulders. Of course, it fits beautifully in the back!

    But this post might be just what I need, so thanks!

    Also – I trace patterns onto that imitation greaseproof paper you can get in the supermarket for wrapping sandwiches. It’s cheap as chips and all you need to do is stick pieces together. It’s also transparent enough that you can trace.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      May 23, 2011 at 6:35 am (4 years ago)

      Thanks for the comment! Resizing princess-lined patterns can be tricky, because it is harder to tweak separate areas. I frequently horizontally slash the long pieces in the center at the waist to allow for grading between bust and waist. You can also treat the shoulder area separately, but that is best done when trying on a fitting toile, as each individual has different shoulder shapes. See my tutorial at “Why Doesn’t This Look Like the Pattern Cover?” for more info. Thanks!

      Reply
  38. Emily
    May 25, 2011 at 6:54 am (4 years ago)

    Hi, this is fantastic help- thank you. I’m taking a vintage dress up a size. I have split the front bodice with verticle lines as you have shown but when I came to split the back bodice the waist tapers in so much that I’m unable to draw a vertical split down from the armhole as it goes off the pattern. Do I draw a line/split parallel to the side seam and just spread it across horizontally please? Hope I’m making sense!
    Many thanks, Emily :)

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      May 25, 2011 at 8:11 am (4 years ago)

      Hi, Emily! When you have a very nipped-in waist like that, it is okay to simply redraw the curved line (French curves will be helpful tools for this). So, if you need to add (say) 1/2″ under the arm, just redraw the side seam line 1/2″ away from the original. That does the trick!

      Reply
  39. Amber
    May 30, 2011 at 2:51 pm (4 years ago)

    I know this is an older post, but seriously thank you! I just picked up about 50 vintage patterns from a garage sale, and was wondering if I could resize them. Your directions make sense to me. The pictures help greatly. I am not as worried about this now! Since I just discovered your site, I can’t wait to peek around it more. Thank you so much for posting this tutorial!

    Reply
  40. Tammy
    June 1, 2011 at 11:27 pm (4 years ago)

    Hi, I am making little girls dresses for a festival and was told they were all size 5 to 8. Now I find it is up to hefty girls, young but obese. They are asking for 10 and 12s. The pattern only comes up to size . How do I enlarge that bodice, which is a sleeveless bodice with gathered long skirt, for the extra large little girls. Any help would be appreciated.

    Reply
    • tammy
      June 1, 2011 at 11:29 pm (4 years ago)

      sorry, up to size 8. This could be interesting.

      Reply
      • Jennie Chancey
        June 2, 2011 at 12:02 pm (4 years ago)

        Tammy, all you need are the actual measurements for the sizes they want, and then you can follow my tutorial on this page to go from what you have to what they need. It’s all about measurements–not “size.” :) Have fun!

        Reply
  41. Jessica
    June 29, 2011 at 6:44 pm (4 years ago)

    Thank you soooooooo much for this tutorial! I have a friend who needed a larger size and I was able to use your tutorial to resize the pattern.

    I love how you said it ‘isn’t hard, just work’…you were right 😀

    Thanks again!

    Jessica

    p.s. we love your Edwardian apron pattern–six of us have one to two each 😀

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      June 30, 2011 at 12:29 am (4 years ago)

      I’m so glad, Jessica! Have fun with all your sewing projects. Sounds like you stay busy stitching! 😀

      Reply
  42. Rehanon
    July 6, 2011 at 6:56 am (4 years ago)

    I have a sailor wiggle dress from advance patterns in size 12 I’m a modern size 16 with a fair old bust on me. Is this too much of a change to make? I’ve been sewing since February and I have made quite a few things dresses and separates but I’ve never resized a pattern. Any help gratefully received :)

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      July 6, 2011 at 11:05 am (4 years ago)

      HI, Rehanon! No, that’s not too big of a stretch between sizes. I’ve gone from a 12 to a 22 before. You just need to make fitting muslins and check the fit especially at the shoulder and armhole areas, as those can get a bit out of proportion if not tweaked. If you are over a “D” cup, you will probably also need to add length to the center front of the bodice. I have a tutorial for this in my Romantic Era Dress instructions. Scroll to the bottom for the “DD” appendix. :) Have fun!

      Reply
  43. Kate
    August 7, 2011 at 3:13 am (4 years ago)

    Did a slight resize but the darts aren’t pulling the fabric below the bust in enough. The only way I can see to fix it is to make a set of vertical darts (like the ones in your Romantic Era Dress instructions. The ones in this pattern are the angled side ones.. Can I put a 2nd set of darts or doesn’t it work that way? I can’t make the side ones pull in the right material..

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      August 8, 2011 at 1:45 am (4 years ago)

      Hello, Kate! I don’t know what kind of fabric you are using, but if it’s stretchy, that will affect the darts. Also, if you size up, the darts also need to be a bit wider. There should be no need to run multiple darts below the bust. If you are making for a larger cup size, you can, of course, make some new horizontal darts from the side seam/undearm area over to the bust (like the ones on my 18-26DD Tea Gown pattern supplement). However, adding darts there will lift up the lower edge of the bodice, so you do have to compensate by adding a bit of length. I’d just keep experimenting in muslin (or a fabric similar to your fashion material if that is stretchy). There’s no “wrong” way to add darts as long as you take in the amount of fabric you need to and have them center on the bust point. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  44. Rachel Crosswhite
    August 9, 2011 at 4:26 pm (4 years ago)

    does this work for making a childs size pattern to a ladies size pattern? I have a child pattern I’d love to use for myself but it’s not a ladies pattern!! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      August 10, 2011 at 2:57 am (4 years ago)

      Rachel, that really doesn’t work, because little girls are proportioned completely differently from women (no nipped-in waist, no bustline). It’s better to try to find an adult pattern similar to the child’s in style and tweak it to come closer to the original look you are trying to copy. I mean, you can put in the time and effort if you’re determined, but it means making a significant number of changes to add room for an adult bustline, narrow waistline, and hips. 😉

      Reply
  45. Okay now
    August 14, 2011 at 11:38 am (4 years ago)

    I love to sew, but I’m several different sizes. These tips are simple to read and follow. There are patterns I have that are back in style, but are 4 sizes to small (3 babies did me in). Now I can take them out and reuse them, thank you Jenny

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      August 14, 2011 at 1:40 pm (4 years ago)

      You’re most welcome! You’ll be encouraged to hear that very, very few women fit into one “standard” size. I am three different sizes, depending on what you measure. Being able to custom-fit patterns guarantees a beautiful fit no matter what size you are in which place! 😉

      Reply
  46. Kate
    August 14, 2011 at 6:55 pm (4 years ago)

    Hi, now im resizing a Nehru Jacket pattern which i confusing because it has front, back and side underarm panels, i have lengthened and will add a little to the seam, but i am having trouble resizing the armholes and the sleeves and keeping them matching.. I’m also in a hurry to get this done and have never sewn anything this complicated before.. Is there a trick to resizing armholes and sleeves together?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      August 15, 2011 at 2:59 am (4 years ago)

      Hi, Kate! Without seeing a picture, it is a little hard to visualize what you’re doing, but let me take a stab at it. If you add width to the pattern pieces by slashing and spreading, then you will also need to add width to the sleeve piece by slashing and spreading as shown in the illustration above to widen the curve and underarm areas just as you have widened the jacket at the underarm area. If you have widened the jacket at both back and side underarm, then that will affect the sleeve. Just make sure you add identical amounts of width in the sleeve at underarm and back. Test this in muslin to make sure the sleeve still matches nicely at the underarm curve (front and back) and at the top. Resizing sleeves does require careful testing, especially if they are set-in and have to match exactly. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  47. BVelvet5
    August 22, 2011 at 2:13 pm (4 years ago)

    Wow, we think alike. After reading other directions on how to enlarge and thinking that won’t work and was thinking along the same line as this but afraid to put it to use.

    You’ve saved me ty ty ty.

    Reply
  48. Gail
    August 23, 2011 at 4:27 am (4 years ago)

    Hello. I have been trying to enlarge the Regency Gown Pattern size 18 long sleeve to a size 26 long sleeve. Plus I have big upper arms. I have made 4 muslins for fitting but they either come out like mutton-leg sleeves or not fitting into the armhole at the sleeve cap. I’m making this dress to wear to a formal function soon and the sleeves are the only things that need fixing.
    I would appreciate any help or advice.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      August 23, 2011 at 5:06 am (4 years ago)

      Hi, Gail! If you could send photos, that would be helpful. It sounds like you need to enlarge at the bicep but not so much at the sleeve cap (or you end up with the “leg o’ mutton” look). To do this, you slash the sleeve vertically from bottom almost to top through the middle. Then you’ll spread the lower edge to accommodate a larger bicep without adding so much to the curve. If you *do* still need more room in the cap, then spread the sleeve a little at the top and more at the bottom (making a triangular gap rather than a rectangular gap). That will give more room at the bicep but not so much fullness in the cap. Hope this helps!

      Reply
      • Gail
        August 23, 2011 at 6:57 am (4 years ago)

        Thank you. That makes alot more sense than what I was doing, which was slashing too much at the sleeve cap. Two questions:
        1)To make a size 18 sleeve into a 26 sleeve, I just follow your instructions up above for enlarging the pattern, right?
        2)And can I add more length to the sleeve cap because I can get the top of the sleeve to set into the armhole from the bottom but it seems that I run out of sleeve at the sleeve cap.

        Reply
  49. Jennie Chancey
    August 23, 2011 at 7:06 am (4 years ago)

    Ah ha! (Smacking forehead!) As your armhole is larger, you will need to add length as well as width to your sleeve. Since you mainly seem to need the extra length in the cap, I’d slash the pattern piece horizontally across the cap about two inches below the top of the curve. Then spread the pattern pieces to add the needed length. Do this step AFTER you add the width to the sleeve as explained in my earlier comment, and you should be set! 😀

    Reply
    • Gail
      August 23, 2011 at 10:39 am (4 years ago)

      Lol, no need to smack yourself. I’m glad my pic helped. Thank you so much.

      Reply
  50. fraggle313
    August 24, 2011 at 7:48 am (4 years ago)

    Hi,
    Your infomration is very useful. I am trying to up size a vintage pattern that only comes in 1 size. I am wanting to make standard sizes for my children as they grow bigger than the size 1 pattern. Do you have any advice or calculations for how to make a pattern a whole size bigger for children? I am most concerned with the crotch/length as I do not know what their height/length will be.
    Thank you so much for a great info site, Jenny

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      August 24, 2011 at 9:22 am (4 years ago)

      Hello! All you need to size up to the next level is a set of reliable measurements. You can always use a “standard” measurement chart (like the one at THIS LINK), but I’d personally wait until the children grow bigger and you can take their measurements, as standard sizes rarely match the age they are supposed to. My 7-year-old daughter fits a size 5 in the chest but a 7 in length. My 9-year-old daughter fits a 7 in the chest but an 8 in length. So even with a set of “standard” measurements, it’s still better to measure the actual child for whom the pattern will be used. Then you can size up to those exact measurements for a perfect fit. Hope this helps! ~ Jennie

      Reply
  51. Jan
    September 11, 2011 at 7:45 am (4 years ago)

    Hi, i have a vintage pattern of a dress i wish to make, plus there are various designs from the one pattern.
    The thing is i want to upgrade it from a size 14 to a size 22, do i use the method you have given above, but adding the appropriate measurements? i am getting back into dress making after many years of not doing so, so would appreciate, your help. Many Thanks Jan

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      September 11, 2011 at 2:43 pm (4 years ago)

      Hi, Jan! Yes, you’ll just follow the instructions here to size up from the original 14. Just be sure to measure carefully and test your results in muslin to make any needed tweaks. Typical areas that call for tweaking are shoulder width and armholes. You want to make sure the shoulders do not end up so wide that the sleeves are hanging down off the shoulder instead of sitting at the shoulder edge. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  52. Lorraine
    September 13, 2011 at 4:45 pm (4 years ago)

    This has been incredibly helpful and I’m about to try it out for the first time on a fitted jacket. The problem I have is with my proportions. The bust needs to go up by 2 sizes and the waist by 4! I’ve mixed sizes before, but not on a pattern without a line to follow. Can you offer any advice please?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      September 14, 2011 at 2:20 pm (4 years ago)

      Hi, Lorraine! Sizing up differently in two different places just involves what is called “grading between sizes.” Size up for the bust first, as that is smaller than what you need in the waist. Then see how to grade from the bust up to the waist in my tutorial for the Regency Gown pattern alterations (the principles apply on any kind of garment). Hope this helps!

      Reply
  53. Ann-Marie Meyers
    September 15, 2011 at 5:55 pm (4 years ago)

    Jennie, thanks so much for this. I have a larger tummy, but am small everywhere else. I think I understand what I need to do now to fit a pattern to myself.

    Reply
  54. Tara Brian
    October 2, 2011 at 2:24 am (4 years ago)

    Do you think it is possible to re-size a doll dress pattern for an adult? I make costumes for a local Jr. high, and found the PERFECT costume wedding dress pattern. It is an old out of print pattern I found at the thrift shop, and would love to make it for the play. any advice?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 2, 2011 at 3:46 am (4 years ago)

      Hi, Tara!

      Fashion dolls tend to be proportioned rather unrealistically, meaning the waist will be much smaller in proportion to the bust. You can definitely size up, but you’ll also have to do a lot of tweaking to make the proportions more realistic. If you have a local architectural printer, call to find out if they can scan and enlarge the pattern for you. You’ll have to do some math to figure out how far up to scale the pattern pieces, but it’s not too difficult. If the bust measures 8″ on the doll and you need to go up to 32″, you can see at a glance that you’re just going to need to quadruple the size of the original pieces. Then you’ll need to tweak from there to get the proportions correct. I hope this helps!

      Reply
  55. Mirian S. Tatum
    October 4, 2011 at 11:02 am (4 years ago)

    I thank you so much for sharing your knowledge feely. I want to resize a renaissance outfit corset and skirt. This information is going to help me enormously.
    Thank you!
    MST

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 4, 2011 at 11:49 am (4 years ago)

      You are most welcome, Mirian! Have fun!

      Reply
  56. Tamela Vickery
    October 15, 2011 at 1:47 am (4 years ago)

    Hi Jennie,

    I am very NEW to sewing. I have found several vintage patterns that I will need to size up from a 16 to an 18. I am considering buying a dress form. Do you think this would better serve me for re-sizing patterns?

    Thank you,

    Tam

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 17, 2011 at 7:49 am (4 years ago)

      Hi, Tamela! If you plan to size up patterns for a wide range of sizes, an adjustable form is a good investment. If you only plan to size up for yourself, I recommend creating a Duct Tape Double instead–inexpensive and works great!

      Reply
  57. megan
    October 23, 2011 at 6:41 pm (4 years ago)

    Great tutorial, I learned all this stuff in school but have not had to use it until now and have looked every where for this information.This going to be so helpful, thank you.

    Reply
  58. Mary W.
    October 27, 2011 at 11:29 pm (4 years ago)

    I am new to sewing and am using your tutorial to resize a childs 7/8 to a size 4 for my daughters Halloween costume. The bodice has a yolk with a curved bottom that ends mid-chest, and has a gathered skirt. I’ve determined that I need to overlap 1 inch (to take off 4 inches total. I am not sure what to do about yolk, particularly the shoulder. I have three main questions: 1. When I move in, to line up the new piece with the bottom line or the shoulder line? 2. How much do I shrink the shoulder? 3. Do I consider the amount that I took off the shoulder, when shortening the rest of the dress to my desired length?
    This is the pattern if it helps: http://mccallpattern.mccall.com/m9424-products-7183.php
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 30, 2011 at 11:17 am (4 years ago)

      Hi, Mary! All you need to do is treat the yoke as the bodice piece slashing and overlapping at the neckline, shoulder, and underarm as shown in my illustrations. You need to take off two inches from the front and two from the back. If you divide that over the three areas specified, you’ll overlap 2/3″ at each spot. Treat the gathered area below the yoke as the skirt, since that’s what it really is. Since it is curved to match the yoke, you’ll need to slash and overlap at the same places along the curve (taking the gathers into account, as the skirt is obviously wider than the yoke). When you sew the yoke front to back, you’ll match it at the shoulders, since they will match after slashing and overlapping the pieces equally. Finally, yes, do consider how much you’ve subtracted from the shoulder when you alter the overall length of the skirt. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  59. Heather W.
    November 8, 2011 at 1:57 pm (4 years ago)

    I recently found a vintage sewing pattern at a thrift store that I want to use, but it is way too big. Is it even possible to downsize it from a size 22 to a size 6-8? The pattern is for a shirt-dress type garment if that helps at all.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      November 8, 2011 at 2:06 pm (4 years ago)

      Hi, Heather! Yes, it is completely do-able. Because there is such a big difference in the sizes, you will especially want to check the shoulder width and armhole size in muslin, as they will likely need extra tweaking for a perfect fit. Other than that, go for it!

      Reply
  60. Fran
    November 15, 2011 at 9:52 pm (4 years ago)

    I am looking for tips on how to make costumes that will fit up to 3 sizes since the same person will not always use the costume from year to year.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      November 16, 2011 at 2:13 am (4 years ago)

      Hi, Fran! It will depend upon the costume, but my advice is to make the garment in the largest size you believe you will need, then use drawstrings or ties to pull in fullness for a smaller wearer. For more fitted garments like men’s trousers or jackets, you can leave out the lining and sew the side seams with basting stitches. This allows the garment to be let out for a larger wearer in the future. I made costumes for a Regency Era play many years ago and used hook-and-loop tape for the fastenings, as it was easy to “take in” the dress at the center back by simply moving over the tape. Fake buttonholes and buttons were sewn onto the upper back closure to look like an authentic gown, but it was easy to adjust the costumes for a smaller person by simply overlapping the back more. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  61. Shanna
    November 17, 2011 at 1:24 pm (4 years ago)

    Hi, thank you so much for your tutorial. I am wanting to use a child PDF coat pattern and resize it to a women’s pattern. How challenging will this be since this is a PDF pattern and not a traditional one? Any advice would be helpful. Thank you

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      November 18, 2011 at 5:33 am (4 years ago)

      Hi, Shanna! You usually print PDF patterns onto paper and go from there. Or do you have a gridded pattern in PDF format? Let me know, and I’ll see what I can tell you. :)

      Reply
    • janet
      November 26, 2011 at 7:21 pm (4 years ago)

      Hi!
      I would like to know how to size up from 18 to 28 on a simple jumper pattern. It is a Butterick pattern. Please let me know. Thanks! janet

      Reply
      • Jennie Chancey
        November 27, 2011 at 12:22 pm (4 years ago)

        Hi, Janet! The same principles apply, even to a simple jumper. Just slash and spread from top to bottom through the neckline, shoulder, and armhole. Hope this helps!

        Reply
  62. Gigi Schnepp
    November 22, 2011 at 6:56 pm (4 years ago)

    When I reach forward, my sleeve hole binds….is this problem taken care of with your slashing the bodice method?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      November 23, 2011 at 2:14 pm (4 years ago)

      Hi, Gigi! This depends on the sleeve type and even the armhole type. Is this a historical design or modern? I’ve got some fitting tips online at “Why Doesn’t This Look Like the Pattern Cover?” that might help. See the section on shoulder width especially, as that will probably solve the issue. Let me know if you have any more details on pattern type, and I’ll be happy to help!

      Reply
  63. Carolyn
    November 25, 2011 at 9:45 pm (4 years ago)

    I bought 4 Child’s Christmas Vests. It’s a cloth pattern with a design on it that you cut out the pieces and sew it together. The size is for 6-8-10-12. What I needed was 3-4-5-6. So how do I cut the size 6 vests down to a size 3,4 & 5? HELP!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      November 27, 2011 at 12:25 pm (4 years ago)

      Hi, Carolyn! My instructions are for pattern pieces and obviously won’t work for fabric that’s already been cut out, or you’d end up with seam lines in odd places from all the slashing and overlapping. 😉 The best thing to do is to find a similar vest pattern in the right sizes and lay out the pieces over top of the fabric vest pieces you have to guide you in cutting them down. The shoulders and neckline will be cut down, as will the armholes and side seams. If you feel confident doing this from the smaller measurements without pattern pieces to guide you, you can do it, but you’ll want to pin-baste the pieces together for a try on first to see where the cutting down needs to be done. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  64. Joy
    November 27, 2011 at 5:27 pm (4 years ago)

    Carolyn, would so much appreciate any advice you could give me. I have a ‘gentle giant’ for a son-in-law. He wears a size 5XL shirt. I would like to make a simple vest for him but could not find a pattern that large, so I bought one that only goes up to XL in hopes of enlarging it. I do have one of his shirts here with me to give me a better idea, but need some expert advice. Thank you for any help.

    Reply
  65. vicki
    November 29, 2011 at 3:03 am (4 years ago)

    thank you very much,
    most usefull info,and so easy to understand .
    i will try this with confidence,and i thought it was tooo hard! hehe
    thanks :)
    have a nice day

    Reply
  66. Rainer
    December 4, 2011 at 7:15 pm (3 years ago)

    A newbie sewer here, and want to purchase a dress form any recommendations ?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      December 5, 2011 at 2:49 pm (3 years ago)

      Hello, Rainer! I use a Singer adjustable dressform with the Fabulous Fit system. FF will work with any inexpensive dressform and is utterly fantastic, as you can get the exact measurements/shape you need for your form. It’s also soft and pinnable, which is very helpful. Have fun!

      Reply
  67. donna
    December 5, 2011 at 12:12 pm (3 years ago)

    Hello, I am going from a chest size 30 to 38 on a nehru jacket, can you tell me what I should do about the collar and the sleeves. thank you for your help

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      December 5, 2011 at 2:51 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi, Donna! Any time you adjust neckline or armholes, you must also adjust sleeves and collar. Just follow the instructions given here, and you’ll be set. Split the sleeve in three places as shown. Collars are split in the center and then on either side. If your collar has a center back seam, you just add to the seam allowance, then split and spread the collar between the center back and the front point. Have fun sewing!

      Reply
      • donna
        December 6, 2011 at 8:58 pm (3 years ago)

        thank you for your help…

        Reply
  68. Jessi
    December 7, 2011 at 6:59 pm (3 years ago)

    Hey there! I’m going from a 12 to a 14 with a long, double breasted coat. I’m assuming the same divisions apply, but thought I’d ask first. Thanks so much! :)

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      December 7, 2011 at 11:37 pm (3 years ago)

      Yes, that’s right, Jessi! Have fun! :)

      Reply
  69. Francisca
    January 5, 2012 at 5:17 am (3 years ago)

    Hi Jennie,

    Thank you so much for your great tutorial! Suddenly I find myself in need of resizing because one of my pattern pieces doesn’t fit. This is the dress: http://www.etsy.com/listing/87245672/vintage-40s-mail-order-1808-shaped. The Front Waist (the part that has to be gathered) is just as big as the Yoke and the front Girdle. So there’s not much gathering possible.
    It’s an unprinted pattern so I don’t have any clue of the size it has now. Could you tell me how many sizes up the piece would have to be?
    Thank you so much and vriendelijke groeten uit Nederland

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      January 7, 2012 at 7:21 am (3 years ago)

      Hi Francisca! I checked the link. What a gorgeous pattern! By the bust and hip measurements, the dress is a US14 up top and a US14.5 in the hips. If the yoke needs more room for gathers, I recommend just adding that by splitting the pattern piece vertically down the center and spreading it one to three inches. The amount depends on how much fullness you need across the bust. I’d experiment in muslin until it looks right. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  70. Sandy Alger
    January 12, 2012 at 11:31 am (3 years ago)

    The neck area is too small, I need to enlarge only this area on a pajama top or would it be easier to cut it in the front to have a slit?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      January 14, 2012 at 12:34 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi, Sandy! You can just cut the neck opening wider or add a slit. I like the slit idea, personally. :)

      Reply
  71. Becky Starnes
    January 14, 2012 at 9:11 pm (3 years ago)

    Hello Ms. Chancey. I am so thankful I found your information as I’ve been searching for the best way to alter patterns. Your directions were so helpful and I am totally confidant now and excited to get sewing. Again,I thank you for sharing your knowledge.

    Reply
  72. Shakisha
    January 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm (3 years ago)

    Thank you for sharing this information. I have a daughter who loves girly clothes and is a little bigger than the patterns of the dresses she likes (pdf) now I can resize them!

    I do have one question my Daughter has a tummy that sticks out a bit…we have made a duct tape double but how do adjust the patterns to take care of this? Lastly, some pattern bodices stick out and don’t hang as nicely on her how can I correct that?

    I would love to hear back from you thanks so much.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      January 27, 2012 at 6:11 am (3 years ago)

      Hello, Shakisha! To adjust for a bit of a tummy, you just need to add a bit of length to the center front of the bodice and a little bit more width to the last two inches of the side seam. Basically, this is like “flaring” the side seams out a tad to accommodate the tummy, then the length prevents the bodice front from pulling up too high over the tummy. To adjust any bodice to fit perfectly, be sure to cut out a muslin bodice and baste it together for a try-on. This allows you to check the changes you have made and locate any other problem spots before cutting into your fashion material. Hope this helps!

      Reply
      • Shakisha
        January 27, 2012 at 12:56 pm (3 years ago)

        Thank you so much….I think I got it.

        – Make the center of the bodice longer
        – Make the last 2″ of the side seams wider….

        Reply
  73. beka
    January 28, 2012 at 7:49 pm (3 years ago)

    Do you have any tips on resizing a one shouldered dress or top? I only need to go up one or two sizes

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      January 30, 2012 at 2:01 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi, Beka! The steps are the same, as you want to slash and spread the pattern just as if there were two shoulder straps. All you need to do is “visualize” where the missing strap would be when laying out the pattern pieces and make sure the slash line runs through the same part on that pattern piece as it does on the piece that does have the strap. Hope that makes sense! As long as you are slashing and spreading the same areas symmetrically and spreading the needed amount over all the pieces, you’ll be fine. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  74. Ryan Erwin
    February 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm (3 years ago)

    Great post Jennie. Answered most of my questions.

    QUESTION: All of these systems like “Fabulous-Fit System” and “Singer Adjustable” Dress forms look amazing, but what kind of forms/auto-adjusting mannequins are available for men’s clothes?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      February 9, 2012 at 2:59 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi, Ryan! Fabulous Fit also sells dress forms for men, so be sure to check out their site!

      Reply
  75. Sherry Ramsey
    February 15, 2012 at 10:05 pm (3 years ago)

    how do I resize an adult wedding dress to fit a 22 inch doll?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      February 16, 2012 at 3:11 am (3 years ago)

      Sherry, if the doll is a half-sized fashion doll proportioned like a real woman, then you simply take a woman’s size 12 and reduce it by 50%. This is easier to do with a large format copier that can reduce, as it’s very time-consuming and tedious to do the math and reduce to grid paper.

      Reply
  76. morag
    February 18, 2012 at 10:04 am (3 years ago)

    I am short-waisted and would like to follow your advice. However the pattern has small pleats/gathers at one side of the lower bodice (between underarm and waist. Will I have to redo all of these, by making each a little smaller?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      February 18, 2012 at 10:34 am (3 years ago)

      Hi, Morag! Measure how much you’ll be subtracting from the bodice, then measure the tucks. If you need to take out one inch and have several quarter-inch tucks, then you can just omit two of the tucks (each quarter-inch tuck is half an inch before folding). If you prefer to keep the same number of tucks, you can, indeed, make them smaller. Hope this helps!

      Reply
      • morag
        February 24, 2012 at 11:17 am (3 years ago)

        re 18th February short waisted and tucks — thanks for the reassurance. I think I would like to line this dress — do I make the lining with all the same tucks? If so, do I iron them in the opposite directions from those of the dress, or do I slash them — to avoid the area becoming too bulky?

        Reply
        • Jennie Chancey
          February 24, 2012 at 12:56 pm (3 years ago)

          Hi again! I wouldn’t put tucks in the lining. Instead, you need to cut the lining to the actual length (so subtract all the tucks). Hope this helps!

      • morag
        February 24, 2012 at 4:14 pm (3 years ago)

        Does this not mean I will have a “flat chested” lining? (there are only two long vertical darts at the back of the dress, and the rest of its shaping comes from the tucks at the front side.)

        Reply
        • Jennie Chancey
          February 26, 2012 at 2:38 pm (3 years ago)

          Sorry–I thought you meant horizontal tucks across the front! If the tucks are vertical, you do not need to make any changes to them, as they will shorten when you shorten the bodice. You would only get rid of tucks if they were horizontal and adding to the length of the bodice. Inside the bodice, you can gather of pleat the lining rather than tucking it. Hope that makes sense!

    • Jennie Chancey
      February 20, 2012 at 10:52 am (3 years ago)

      Hello! All you need to do is cut the neckline a bit wider and/or deeper. Cutting a slit in the front would also work, but that would mean binding the slit or creating a placket, which is more work. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  77. Joan Howell
    February 25, 2012 at 7:57 am (3 years ago)

    I have a 1910 pattern which just says to include seam allowance. Does that mean that the the seam allowance is already in the pattern or must I cut the material biggier to allow for the seam.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      February 26, 2012 at 2:33 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi, Joan! If it tells you to include an allowance when cutting, it means you have to add it. A lot of early patterns did not include a seam allowance. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  78. Morag
    March 6, 2012 at 4:12 am (3 years ago)

    You were right first time– the tucks are mostly horizontal, fanning out like the rays of the sun!
    I agree I should omit these from the lining, but was asking if I should add two vertical darts to the lining to give a more shaped bust and waist (to the lining), or if I should just have it flat (to mirror the dress after it has had its tucks taken in). I do wish Patterns would give lining instructions too!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      March 6, 2012 at 4:47 am (3 years ago)

      Ah ha! Yes, I would add a dart in the lining to make it fit smoothly. Sounds good!

      Reply
  79. Jessie Filter
    March 13, 2012 at 10:42 am (3 years ago)

    Great tutorial! I am making the Simplicity 2373 (http://www.simplicity.com/p-5094-misses-sportswear.aspx) for someone who has a 54.5″ bust and 55″ hips. How do I change the top because the front is in 3 pieces. She lives in a different state, so I can’t easily try it on her either. Also, for the back would I just add on or cut it?

    Thank you for all your help!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      March 13, 2012 at 1:48 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi, Jessie! If the three bodice pieces cover each area you’d normally slash, just slash each one and add the needed amount. If you have a bodice front that includes both neckline and shoulder edge, you can slash that one twice, then slash the underarm piece once. The third piece would, presumably, be the side front of the bodice and only contain the shaping for the side of the bust–so no need to slash that one if the front is spread in two places. Definitely slash the back as shown, since you want the additions to be evenly spread over the entire piece rather than all at center back or side seam. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  80. Klaske Adema
    March 19, 2012 at 2:22 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi,

    I would like to know how to make a pantalon wider from the waist till knee (not longer or shorter).
    Can you please help me out, thank you!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      March 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm (3 years ago)

      Hello, Klaske! Since pantaloons are just straight up and down, you can split the pattern piece vertically down the middle and spread it to add the needed width. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  81. KMccalope
    March 28, 2012 at 2:01 pm (3 years ago)

    Such a great tutorial! I have a ton of vintage patterns that I would love to size up.My question is, if the back bodice is done in the same way? From the looks of things it is I just want to be certain.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      March 28, 2012 at 2:06 pm (3 years ago)

      Yes, indeed! You split the bodice back in the same three places (neckline, shoulder, side seam). Have fun!

      Reply
  82. Betty
    April 1, 2012 at 2:47 am (3 years ago)

    Hi there,

    I hope this isn’t a silly questions, but I am completely new to sewing and dressmaking!

    I have a vintage pattern that is fine on the bust but needs to be at least 2in bigger on the waist. What would I do about this?

    Please let me know (in as simple terms as possible). Thanks!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      April 1, 2012 at 9:28 am (3 years ago)

      Hi, Betty! I show how to grade out from one size in the bust to another in the hips (it would work for the waist as well) at this link. The tutorial shows the Regency Gown, but the principles work for any pattern. Just test (and retest, if necessary!) in muslin or inexpensive cotton before cutting into your fashion fabric, and you’ll be fine! And remember to add the extra two inches to the skirt (if there’s a skirt) as well. Have fun!

      Reply
      • Betty
        April 1, 2012 at 12:15 pm (3 years ago)

        Thanks, Jennie! though I’m a little confused- I had read that other article, but I thought it was about altering the bodice so that it opens in the front… am I missing something? I must be! Could you clarify? Thanks!

        Reply
        • Jennie Chancey
          April 1, 2012 at 1:05 pm (3 years ago)

          Scroll down to where I show how to “grade” the size between bodice and skirt. :)

  83. someone
    April 3, 2012 at 9:53 pm (3 years ago)

    What about vertical darts on the bodice? how do you move and resize those?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      April 4, 2012 at 2:31 am (3 years ago)

      The best way to determine where the darts go is to simply resize the full bodice, trace off your new piece in interfacing, then pin-fit to your mannequin (or yourself), placing the darts where they fit best and marking them when you remove the toile. That’s how I do it, and it’s far more accurate than just trying to eyeball the darts! :)

      Reply
  84. someone
    April 3, 2012 at 10:58 pm (3 years ago)

    Also, I also couldnt find the grading thing in the regenecy article, unless you’re talking about the gathering? Also, I have a bigger bust area, but a smaller waist area, and the pattern is an empire waist pattern.http://mccallpattern.mccall.com/m3954-products-2117.php?page_id=521.(the pattern i have is a size 10) I need to add 4 inches to the bust, but only 2 inches to the waist. Sorry about all these questions, but I need the dress by Easter!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      April 4, 2012 at 2:42 am (3 years ago)

      Well, I am sitting here with my mouth open, as I just realized those photos aren’t on the page anymore! They really belong in this resizing article, so I am putting them up now!! Thanks, and I apologize for the confusion. 😛

      Reply
  85. Jennie Chancey
    April 4, 2012 at 3:16 am (3 years ago)

    Okay the photos that show how to grade between sizes are now back in place above the last image of the sleeve. :)

    Reply
  86. someone
    April 4, 2012 at 10:00 am (3 years ago)

    Thanks for your quick response. You must be very organized, doing this in addition to 9 kids and homeschooling. You’re amazing!

    Reply
  87. jena
    April 9, 2012 at 10:14 pm (3 years ago)

    hey i found some patterns on a store online but they are kids pattern but its just soo cute! i can technically fit into the 14 they have but it would be close i just want to go up two sizes to make a better fit. is this possible?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      April 10, 2012 at 2:48 am (3 years ago)

      Hi, Jena! Yes, if you are already pretty close to the size 14, you can just size up from that one. Just be sure to double-check the room in the bustline by making a muslin toile of the bodice and trying it on. Should work fine!

      Reply
  88. Jillian
    April 13, 2012 at 10:16 am (3 years ago)

    Quick question for you, Jennie. If I only need to add an inch to the waist of a bodice, is it wise to size up the entire piece and adjust from there or is there a way to just add to the waist?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      April 13, 2012 at 12:46 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi, Jillian! If you need to size up the waist and not the bust, then you “grade” between sizes as I show above (look at the images just above the last illustration of a short sleeve with slash lines). That’s the best way to go if you don’t want the upper part of the bodice to be too big. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  89. Jenna
    April 13, 2012 at 6:58 pm (3 years ago)

    I am unable to find a dress shirt pattern to fit my son that I like. He is apparently a size that nobody designs dress shirts for right now! LOL He needs a junior 14, the closest I can find is a 10/12 boys or an x-s men’s. I have 2 questions.
    1. which would be easier to re-size to fit him?
    2. Are the steps/instructions the same as above or do I need to take additional things into account for a dress shirt?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      April 14, 2012 at 4:06 am (3 years ago)

      Hi, Jenna! If he is broad through the shoulders, I’d go with the men’s XS and size it down for him. I have a 14-year-old son as well, and he seems to outgrow everything in a month these days, so I’d be more inclined to choose a men’s pattern anyway! And, yes, the instructions above apply to a dress shirt as well. Have fun!

      Reply
  90. Holly
    April 21, 2012 at 7:59 pm (3 years ago)

    I am a beginner first of all and have found moat of what was said about increasing patterns very helpful. But I didn’t see anything about pant patterns.

    Reply
  91. Susan Wales
    April 22, 2012 at 3:34 pm (3 years ago)

    Thanks very much for this. I bought a dress pattern online but when it arrived I found it is a size 8 and I need 12 to 14. I think I can manage to follow your instructions – thank you again.

    Reply
  92. Elizabeth
    April 22, 2012 at 4:32 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi,

    I have a question. I want to make a dress, but my measurements don’t match up to one pattern size. My bust measurement is 32″, which falls under XXS in the pattern. My waist is 28″ and hip is 38″ which both fall under size S in the pattern. How do I adjust for this? I plan on making a muslin first, but I am fairly new at sewing with patterns. Thank you!!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      April 23, 2012 at 6:09 am (3 years ago)

      Hi, Elizabeth! You can “grade” between sizes to make the bust smaller and the waistline larger. See the images of the skirt cutting lines I have just above the last illustration on this page of the sleeve. Essentially, you can size the bodice down (using my method), then draw a graded line between the underarm and the waist so the waist is larger. The hipline will follow naturally from the waist (if the skirt is separate, you can just size it to a S to match the waist). Hope this helps!

      Reply
  93. Lisa Bruce
    April 26, 2012 at 8:08 pm (3 years ago)

    Im a virgin sewer of clothes, and I need help please. I have a pattern in a 1 and would like to up size it (standard is fine) to a 2 and also a 3. How do I do it?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      April 28, 2012 at 2:54 am (3 years ago)

      Hi, Lisa! Just follow the instructions in this tutorial, and you’ll be able to size up your pattern to a 2 and a 3. :)

      Reply
  94. Tina C.
    May 18, 2012 at 12:56 pm (3 years ago)

    Hello! This tutorial is great and makes total sense! I have one quick question, however.

    I’m a full busted lady (my cup measurement is a C/D). Moat patterns are drafted with a B cup in m ind. Is there any way, when grading a pattern up a size, to also include a FBA?

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      May 19, 2012 at 9:54 am (3 years ago)

      Hi, Tina! I have instructions for going up to a D or larger cup in my Romantic Era Dress instructions. The same principles apply in taking a B to a C/D, but you won’t need as much length. If you’re making a tailored blouse or something with a more fitted bodice, you’ll also want to see about adding a horizontal dart from the underarm area to bust. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  95. TSLF
    May 23, 2012 at 12:05 am (3 years ago)

    Hi!
    I am making a child’s sundress which buttons from the top to the bottom. The pattern calls for 1″ buttons, but the buttons I have selected are about half that size (14-16 mm.)
    Should I stick with the pattern markings for button placement or place them closer together? What is the rule of thumb for downsizing or upsizing buttons?
    Thanks for your help!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      May 23, 2012 at 4:57 am (3 years ago)

      Hi there! You can keep the same pattern markings/spacing, even if the buttons are smaller. I’d only suggest adding more buttons if the jumper is fitted firmly to the body, as you don’t want any gapping. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  96. GEM
    August 11, 2012 at 8:36 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi,
    What a wonderful website I stumbled upon while trying to find culotte patterns for kids from size 6 to 16. I have found one that is for an adult and wonder how to go about sizing down for the sizes I need. Would there be any special concerns to be aware of? I also found a pattern in a child’s size 4. Which pattern do you think would be easier to adapt to the sizes I need? Thanks very much for your tips!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      August 12, 2012 at 12:38 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi, Gem! My recommendation is to use the child’s size 4 to size up to a child’s 12. Then use the adult pattern to size down to the 16 and 14, particularly if the wearer(s) have already reached puberty and gotten their adult shapes. Just remember to test-fit in muslin before making any garments, as you’ll be able to catch anything funky–like hips being too tight, which is common when you size up from a toddler size to a larger child’s size. Hope this helps, and have fun sewing!

      Reply
  97. Natalie
    September 9, 2012 at 11:49 am (3 years ago)

    Hi Jenny, I sew for my two boys who are 6years apart and often end up having to buy two of the same pattern in different sizes so I can make them both something and it gets expensive. I’m most concerned with grading the crotch area for trousers. If I buy only one size what are some tips to size up or down the crotch area? I’m very confident in resizing hip and waist and length. By the way made my swing dress and thank you for your tips. I have to say it is the best fitting an flattering garment I’ve sewn myself! Thanks Jennie I’ll post a pic of it.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      September 10, 2012 at 1:19 am (3 years ago)

      Hi, Natalie! In resizing the crotch, you basically treat it like you do an underarm area on a bodice. Slash it through the curve and spread it to add more room front to back. You also need to check the vertical seam, as a taller boy will need a longer “rise”–the area between the crotch and waistband. That can be slashed horizontally and spread. But I find you do not need to add as much room as you think vertically unless you’re grading between a size 3 and a size 6, for example. Sizes closer together aren’t that much different. Hope this helps!

      Reply
      • Natalie
        September 10, 2012 at 2:26 am (3 years ago)

        Thanks Jennie!

        Reply
  98. Kelli
    September 11, 2012 at 12:43 am (3 years ago)

    Jennie,
    Do you have pattern grading guides for slash method on men’s vintage patterns? Men surely get bigger differently than women!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      September 11, 2012 at 1:14 am (3 years ago)

      It’s identical, because slashing and spreading doesn’t change the manly proportions of a guy’s pattern. Women’s patterns have curves in the right places. Men’s don’t. Just slash and spread to add the needed room, and the other lines remain the same. Hope this helps!

      Reply
      • Kelli
        September 14, 2012 at 9:30 am (3 years ago)

        Yes, thank you for the response. I’ll be giving it a try.

        Reply
  99. susan
    September 25, 2012 at 10:12 am (3 years ago)

    Hi there Jennie,

    Wow ! Just discovered your site!
    It’s maaaaarvelous!
    I’m wanting to enlarge a circle skirt pattern … 2 pieces plus waistband.
    Is this best done at the sideseams or can I adjust at the center fold?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      September 25, 2012 at 11:29 am (3 years ago)

      Hi, Susan! Yes, that is the best way to enlarge a circle skirt. Have fun!

      Reply
      • Catherine
        October 18, 2014 at 7:20 am (7 months ago)

        Sorry, I am a bit thick…WHICH way is the best way? Adjust the circle skirt at the sideseams or at the center fold?

        Reply
        • Jennie Chancey
          October 18, 2014 at 3:45 pm (7 months ago)

          Hi, Catherine! If you’re doing a real full circle skirt, divide the amount you’re adding between the front fold and the side seams to keep the waistline circle perfect. Happy sewing!

  100. Lynn Brooks
    September 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi Jennie,

    I think your website may have just saved my sanity. My father taught me how to alter patterns when I was a lot younger and unfortunately he is no longer with us to ask advise from and I have been trying to remember everything he taught me for over a week now, you’ve just helped me out big style.

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      September 29, 2012 at 3:31 pm (3 years ago)

      Hurrah, Lynn! Thanks for taking the time to leave such a lovely comment. My mother always lamented that her grandmother never passed down her sewing skills (Mom had to teach herself), so she passed everything on to me and encouraged me to do the same. I’m so glad this tutorial was a help to you!

      Reply
  101. Sarah Duprey
    October 12, 2012 at 8:42 am (3 years ago)

    Hi Jenni,

    Thanks a bunch for this tutorial! I have a question about resizing if there are darts on the bodice pattern… would you slash the bodice as normal and go right through the dart at the waistline? Or would you go about it a different way? How about for a side dart? Thanks in advance for any help! :)

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 12, 2012 at 10:39 am (3 years ago)

      Hi, Sarah! Yes, you can slash and spread as usual, then reposition the darts. This takes a bit of experimenting in muslin (but it does anyway, since none of us have a perfectly symmetrical bustline!). Side darts can be trickier as they are usually shaped at the side seam, but try ignoring any “protrusion” at the side when you slash and spread (making a straight side seam instead). Then lay your new pattern piece over the dart and trace it into position after measuring for your bust point (shoulder-to-bust measurement). You can then add the protruding bit back onto your final pattern. Hope this helps!

      Reply
      • Sarah Duprey
        October 15, 2012 at 8:58 am (3 years ago)

        Thanks a bunch for the explanation about resizing with darts… it makes complete sense. :) Also, as I have been working on pattern grading, I’ve come across two other problems that I thought you could answer:

        1 – It may seem rather obvious, but can I leave the seam allowances on a pattern when resizing, or will it completely throw off the measurements?

        2 – when I’m reshaping the neckline so it is, as you put it, not “all over the map”, I come across a problem… When I line up the neckline edges, the center front of the smaller pattern consequently moves inward from the center front of the larger pattern. I know that the center front is all one line for every size, so I’m not sure how to trace this so everything lines up, and still retains the proper measurements for each size. Hopefully this isn’t too confusing to you; let me know if you need a photo of the issue for clarification. :)

        Reply
        • Jennie Chancey
          October 18, 2012 at 7:14 am (3 years ago)

          Hi again! Definitely leave the seam allowances there! Way, way too confusing to take them off, resize, then add back in again!

          For #2, I *think* I know what you mean, but could you send a photo to clarify? My general rule of thumb is to keep the center fold line the same and line all the bodice pieces up against it, then trace the neckline and shoulder lines in their respective places. Does that make sense?

      • Sarah Duprey
        October 26, 2012 at 6:20 am (3 years ago)

        I’m sorry it has taken me this long to respond you! I was hoping I’d get to it before we went on our vacation, but I guess that didn’t happen! Anyways, here is the photo as requested.

        https://www.dropbox.com/s/91rj9t0ue1e6w3k/DSC_0002.JPG

        If I understand you correctly, I would trim off the top pattern piece that juts out at the neckline so both the top and the bottom pattern will have one even neckline at the high shoulder point?

        Reply
        • Jennie Chancey
          October 28, 2012 at 12:46 pm (3 years ago)

          Hi, Sarah! Nope, you actually want to keep the different shoulder widths in place. When I have a pattern like this, I draw dotted and/or dashed lines from the high shoulder points to connect with the correct neckline curve so people can clearly see which neckline curve connects with each shoulder size. Hope that makes sense!

      • S
        October 31, 2012 at 7:36 am (3 years ago)

        Thanks for your help, Jenny! I very much appreciate it!

        Reply
  102. Fran
    October 20, 2013 at 7:04 am (2 years ago)

    Thank you so much for your very sensible description of resizing or grading patterns. You have explained it in such a down to earth and sensible manner, that it actually makes sense to me, rather than being some kind of arcane art that only the secretly initiates can every hope to master. Thanks again! Fran

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 29, 2013 at 11:28 pm (2 years ago)

      You are most welcome! Happy sewing!

      Reply
  103. Tiferet
    December 22, 2013 at 1:00 am (1 year ago)

    I have one caveat with regards to bodice alterations. It matters WHY the bust measurement is bigger. If someone has a 44″ bust and a 38″ waist, and you’re altering a pattern with a 40″ bust and a 38″ waist, you really don’t want to distribute the extra bust width equally among all the pattern pieces, because chances are that this person wears a DDD/F bra or bigger, and she’s going to need more extra room in front, whereas her back may not need much extra. I am into Japanese street fashion and I see this all the time–people making dresses for large-busted women who add the extra width all the way round or add more shirring to the back when the bulk of the extra room needs to be up front, and it isn’t an attractive look on anyone. The extra back shirring is particularly awful because the dress is pulled tight across the backside, the bust is flattened and the side seams and sleeves of the dress are 2-4″ to the front of where they belong.

    Reply
  104. Lisa
    January 18, 2014 at 1:19 pm (1 year ago)

    Hi Jennie! I’m quite new to sewing and I have a lingerie/nightwear pattern for a babydoll playsuit in a UK 14. I am hoping to be able to resize this to a UK 10 to fit myself, with a view to resizing it to virtually anything for other people.. in order to make this pattern smaller, do I just need to work out the difference in measurements between a 14 and a 10, and follow your instructions in reverse? (i.e. split and shrink, instead of split and spread!)

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      January 18, 2014 at 3:14 pm (1 year ago)

      Exactly, Lisa! Works in reverse like a charm. Just remember to test in muslin prior to cutting into fashion fabric. Happy Sewing!

      Reply
  105. Laraine
    January 31, 2014 at 4:06 pm (1 year ago)

    Hi Jessie
    Thank you for your instructions. I have decided to start making my own clothes again after about 20 years. My basic patterns are all to small and I am most definitely going to give this a try. My hips are much the same, its just the bust and waist that has expanded. I have been pondering for months as to how I am going to make the changes without drafting from scratch. THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      February 5, 2014 at 10:49 am (1 year ago)

      You’re most welcome. Happy sewing!

      Reply
  106. Lexi
    February 12, 2014 at 7:38 am (1 year ago)

    Thanks Jennie for all of this information! I have a question regarding high-waisted clothing. The pattern I’m trying to resize is currently 28″ waist and 37″ hips. I need it to be 26″ waist and 36″ hips. Do I rezise the parts separately as the difference is different, then join the parts using my own lines (if that makes sense?)? Thanks =)

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      February 13, 2014 at 1:19 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi, Lexi! High-waisted dresses are so forgiving in the hips that you should just be able to size down the waist and not worry about the slight difference in the hips. If you find the hips are a bit too roomy, you can always take that area in slightly on the machine when you’re sewing. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  107. Rosemary
    February 28, 2014 at 2:16 pm (1 year ago)

    Hi Jennie. Thank you so much for your instructions on resizing patterns. You made them really simple and easy to understand. I purchased a pattern that is a multiple size pattern with the largest size being US size 18. I need it to be a US size 22. My first question is 1). Do I add all the measurements at one time or do I size it up four times since I want to go up four sizes. 2). As for collars, how would I resize the collar to the pattern. I know it’s a simple answer but it is not coming to me right now. Thanks for any help you can give.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      February 28, 2014 at 2:49 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi, Rosemary! You can add all the needed room the first time, since you’d just be slashing and spreading the same areas each time. Don’t forget to make a toile for fitting (out of muslin or another toss-away fabric), as you’ll doubtless need to make a few adjustments to the new pattern pieces, particularly at the shoulders and neckline. What shape is the collar? For a Peter Pan collar, you’ll need to line it up with the neckline and make slashes in the places that line up with the bodice slashes. For a notched collar, it’s similar, but without the curve to line up with the neckline, it’s a bit trickier. Let me know if you need more help!

      Reply
      • Rosemary
        March 1, 2014 at 5:34 pm (1 year ago)

        The top has a stand up collar so I can follow the same rules for a Peter Pan collar. Thank you so much!

        Reply
  108. Laurraine
    March 7, 2014 at 9:06 am (1 year ago)

    Thank you so much for this VERY helpful tutorial! It’s exactly what I was looking for. I’m trying to resize a Girl’s dress pattern that only comes in 6T to size 12 or 14 girls. Do you have any tips? Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      March 7, 2014 at 1:10 pm (1 year ago)

      Hi, Laurraine! You don’t mention what size you are trying to reach with the final pattern. Another child’s size…or are you going for an adult version? If the latter, you’ll have more of a challenge, since you’ll need to add room in the bust. But these steps will still work; it will just take a bit more tweaking for a womanly shape, so stock up on muslin! 😉

      Reply
      • Laurraine
        March 12, 2014 at 8:40 pm (1 year ago)

        The pattern is a 6T and I’m trying to make it fit a girl 12 or 14. She is 9 yrs old, slim and tall but mostly wears 12-14 at the moment…no bust yet!

        Reply
        • Jennie Chancey
          March 12, 2014 at 10:34 pm (1 year ago)

          No worries, then! Follow instructions as given, and there you go! :-)

  109. Ana Abril
    May 18, 2014 at 10:44 pm (1 year ago)

    Thank you so much for this information! I never knew how to do it right.

    Reply
  110. Janaki
    August 4, 2014 at 11:43 am (10 months ago)

    Hello Jenni,
    I am very new to sewing, despite my age (62) so I’m trying to learn stuff on my own. This tutorial is so awesome and I can’t believe how much patience you must have in you to explain in such a concise, crisp yet detailed manner. This would be something new for me to try out…in India we don’t really get published patterns – you need to buy a Burda or foreign magazine if you want one. A very BIG thank you!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      August 4, 2014 at 9:12 pm (10 months ago)

      I am so glad this was helpful to you! Happy sewing!

      Reply
  111. Ashton
    August 14, 2014 at 8:54 am (10 months ago)

    Hi Jennie!

    Wow, this post is 4 years old and I see that I’m not the only one still asking questions, how helpful!!!

    I am a novice sewer looking for some help on resizing just certain areas of a pattern – I am looking to sew a costume for a Disney Halloween party and I would really like to go as Merida from Brave. Unfortunately there are no patterns for the exact dress in adult sizes. There are very close patterns, but none I have seen have the same sleeves and I hesitate to modify anything too much – consider my lack of expertise, it could be a total train wreck! However, I did find a Disney licensed pattern for “older girls” that I think I can tackle, and luckily, I happen to be just small enough to have almost the exact measurements of the largest size. The only problem areas are the chest (I am 2″ larger) and the length (I am 1″ taller).

    Firstly, the “chest measurement” says 32″, the “finished garment measurement” for the chest is 35 1/2″, and my chest measurement is 34 1/2 – with my measurement coming under the finished measurement, will I actually be okay without adding to the chest? This seems very basic, but again, I am very inexperienced so I figured it’s better ask, just in case!

    If this will not suffice, is it proper to just add 2″ of fabric to the chest area (distributed evenly to the front and back)?

    And as far as the length is concerned, will it be okay to just add 1″ to the length of the skirt fabric?

    This seems to make logical sense to me but because of my lack of experience with how pattern alterations translate to an actual garment, I hesitate to “just go for it.” So here I am, looking for advice :)

    If it helps, here is the pattern:

    http://www.simplicity.com/p-9585-childs-and-girls-disney-brave-costume.aspx#t-1

    I appreciate it so much!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      August 15, 2014 at 7:41 pm (10 months ago)

      Hi, Ashton! You still need to size up a bit, or the dress is going to be so tight you won’t be able to move. “Ease” is needed to allow for freedom of movement (though not 3.5″!). My recommendation is to grade up the chest area by two inches and add length to the skirt (just as you said). Just be sure to try this out in muslin first so you can adjust for a perfect fit. Happy sewing!

      Reply
  112. Maggie
    August 19, 2014 at 3:12 pm (9 months ago)

    Is it the same technique to go from a size 12 pattern adjusted to a size 28, or would that distort the pattern too much? I’m trying to resize patterns for shirts, pants, skirts, and undergarments. Thank you for your help!

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      August 19, 2014 at 10:51 pm (9 months ago)

      Hi, Maggie! Jumping that many sizes can lead to fitting issues in the bust and waist. My recommendation is to first adjust up to size 20 and test the fit on a mannequin (or willing friend!). Then go from there to the 28. This will allow you to work out any quirks (like shoulders being too wide or waist too baggy) before moving up to the final size. Hope this helps, and happy sewing!

      Reply
      • Maggie
        August 20, 2014 at 12:59 am (9 months ago)

        You mean from a size 12 straight to the size 20? Or several others in between?
        Thanks again!!!

        Reply
        • Jennie Chancey
          August 20, 2014 at 2:17 pm (9 months ago)

          Sorry about the confusion! Yes, you can go from 12 to 20. That’s the beauty of this method — you don’t have to size up one size at a time. But I wouldn’t make the leap from 12 to 28. Better to make a smaller leap first and tweak, then leap again from 20 to 28. :-)

  113. Linda Moulder
    September 14, 2014 at 7:41 pm (9 months ago)

    I am sewing a bridesmaid dress for a woman sized 5x plus. I want to thank you for all your enlargement size advise. This is going to help me very much. I have measured her and now I am going to cut her pattern out after the enlargements. What I have done is make a paper draft pattern and fixed the measurements and now I am going to sew a sample dress. Hopefully, this will work because I have just 2 weeks to do this dress in. But it seems to be a simple dress Simplicity Pattern #1733 so these are the changes 2 inches to the back, 3 inches to the front. Do I have to add 2 and 3 inches to the skirt pattern from the fold line or do I add on the seam side?This pattern is like an empire waist dress. I did add the inches to the front and back skirt because she needs the inches added. She really needed just 4 inches for around, but I added the same amount to the front skirt and back skirt that I added for the front and back top. Anyway, I really am thankful that I found your site to help me fix this dress. You may respond to my email address if you have any information that is vital and can help me do this dress.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      September 16, 2014 at 10:38 pm (9 months ago)

      Hi, Linda! You’re on the right track. I’d add to the skirt at the fold, because that preserves your cutting line at the side seam (without having to redraw it). Hope the sewing goes well!

      Reply
  114. Shirley Gillespie
    September 24, 2014 at 8:33 pm (8 months ago)

    Hi I need to resize a man coat pattern from a size 44 to size 50. Any suggestions.

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      September 24, 2014 at 8:45 pm (8 months ago)

      Just follow instructions as given after taking careful measurements. Happy sewing!

      Reply
  115. Emelie
    October 12, 2014 at 9:39 pm (8 months ago)

    How to do without all these tools? I just have a super tiny pattern in a book, ruler, calculator and on. No fancy equipment..

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      October 13, 2014 at 9:14 pm (8 months ago)

      Hi, Emelie! You don’t need the French curves, though they are a huge help in tracing sleeves and other curved pieces. If you are sizing up from a graphed pattern in a book (like Janet Arnold’s patterns), you’ll need one-inch gridded interfacing or paper. Then you carefully draw the lines from the book onto the gridded paper in the appropriate square. It’s a long process, but that’s how it’s done. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  116. brenda
    November 5, 2014 at 6:06 am (7 months ago)

    I’ve read through some & will come back to finish, so far it’s fab. Just what I’ve been looking for, as I don’t know how to size up from standard bought patterns (size 14) to size 18. I’ve never seen anything that tells me how to & just pulling my hair out now. So, I’m so glad I have found your site………………I will be back, thank you so much, the sketches help as well. I’m going to try what I’ve read so far. I am so encouraged to enlarge my Pattern to make for my grandaughter (20yrs). Thank you, wish everyone could explain so simply.

    Reply
  117. maria rangel
    May 21, 2015 at 9:07 pm (1 week ago)

    Hi so in this article it instructs you on how to enlarge a smaller sized pattern, im just wondering if the same techniques need to be applied to reduce a few sizes

    Reply
    • Jennie Chancey
      May 23, 2015 at 1:04 pm (1 week ago)

      Hi, Maria! Yes, that’s exactly right. In reverse, you slash as directed, then overlap (instead of spreading apart) to subtract the needed amount from each area. Test in muslin before cutting fashion material, and have fun getting the perfect fit!

      Reply

3Pingbacks & Trackbacks on How to Resize a Pattern

  1. […] I’m not a 32 inch bust, so I used this tutorial on how to size up patterns. It was incredibly helpful. First I traced the pattern pieces. Then I […]

  2. […] once before and, now that I think about, it didn’t go so well that time, either. I used the tutorial found on Sense & Sensibility Patterns. It’s a good tutorial; it makes sense; it’s […]

  3. […] My quest for answers brought me to a website which has great instructions on how to resize a pattern. […]

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