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 how to resize a pattern! 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!

304 Comments on How to Resize a Pattern

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

    • 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! 🙂

  4. 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

    • 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,


        • Hi, Claire! If you make the neckline smaller in circumference, you’ll need to make the collar smaller as well. Depending on how much you are reducing the neckline opening, you might not need to slash and overlap the collar. If you’re removing an amount less than 1/4″, for instance, you can just cut the collar with the center fold line hanging 1/8″ over the fold line of your fabric (reducing by a total of 1/4″). If you need to reduce by 1/2″, you can do the same thing, but also trim the front of the collar down by 1/8″. That takes out the 1/2″. Hope this helps!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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?

    • 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.


  9. 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.

  10. 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.



    • 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.


  11. 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

    • 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!

  12. 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!

  13. 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?

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

    • 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!

  16. 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 🙂

    • 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!

      • 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! 🙂

  17. 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?

    • 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!

  18. 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

    • 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!

  19. 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!

  20. 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!

  21. 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 🙂

    • 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!

  22. 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 🙂

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

    • 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!

      • 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

  25. 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. 😉

  26. 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

  27. 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.


  28. 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 🙂

    • 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!

      • 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! 🙂

  29. 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!

    • 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!

    • 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

  30. 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.

  31. 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″.

  32. 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″)

    • 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. 🙂

      • 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

  33. 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?

    • 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!

  34. 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

    • 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!

  35. 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.

    • 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!

  36. 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 🙂

    • 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!

  37. 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!

  38. 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.

  39. 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!


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

  40. 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 🙂

    • 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!

  41. 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..

    • 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!

  42. 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!

    • 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. 😉

  43. 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

    • 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! 😉

  44. 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?

    • 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!

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

    • 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!

  47. 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! 😀

  48. 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

    • 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

  49. 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

    • 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!

  50. 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?

    • 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!

  51. 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.

  52. 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?

    • 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!

  53. 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!

  54. 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,


  55. 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.

  56. 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:

    • 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!

  57. 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.

    • 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!

  58. 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.

    • 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!

  59. 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

  60. 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!

    • 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!

  61. 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.

  62. 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

    • 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!

  63. 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

    • 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!

  64. 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! 🙂

  65. 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: 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

    • 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!

  66. 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?

  67. 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.

  68. 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.

    • 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!

      • 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….

    • 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!

  69. 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?

    • 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.

  70. 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?

    • 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!

      • 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?

      • 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.)

        • 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!

    • 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!

  71. 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.

  72. 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!

    • 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!

  73. 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!

    • 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!

  74. 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.

  75. 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!

    • 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!

      • 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!

    • 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! 🙂

    • 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. 😛

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

  77. 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?

    • 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!

  78. 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?

    • 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!

  79. 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?


    • 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!

  80. 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.

  81. 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.

  82. 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!!

    • 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!

  83. 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?

  84. 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?

    • 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!

  85. 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!

    • 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!

  86. 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!

    • 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!

  87. 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.

    • 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!

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

    • 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!

  89. 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?


  90. 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

    • 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!

  91. 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! 🙂

    • 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!

      • 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. 🙂

        • 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?

      • 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.

        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?

        • 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!

  92. 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

  93. 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.

  94. 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!)

  95. 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.

  96. 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 =)

    • 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!

  97. 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.

    • 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!

  98. 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!

    • 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! 😉

  99. 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!

  100. 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:

    I appreciate it so much!

    • 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!

  101. 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!

    • 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!

        • 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. 🙂

  102. 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.

    • 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!

  103. 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.

  104. 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

    • 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!

  105. You are an absolute godsend ! Thankyou sooo much for so freely sharing your sewing knowledge and tips. I have sewn all my life; and after a 20 year hiatus, my adult daughter has asked me to make clothes for her as she is unable to find suitable choices at the mall. Of COURSE, she is NOT a standard size having a G bra size and a very pronounced sway back, and great child-bearing hips. All this teamed with a petite waist and you can imagine my dilemma. Thanks to your brilliant tips, I feel confident I can produce acceptable results for her. Thank you SO much once again.

  106. This page has been immensely helpful! Thank you so much for taking the time to lay everything out so simply (albeit several years ago now – an excellent resource and one that I haven’t been able to find elsewhere) I just have one question – I have a pattern which is originally a half-sizes, petite pattern. I am 5ft9…. you can probably sense the problem here. I’ve increased the width sizes because the one I had was a size 18.5 and I needed the 20.5 – which this blog entry was extremely useful in doing. However, the shoulders are too short and the whole bodice is barely reaching bellow my chest, and that’s before I even begin to look into the skirt length. I know you went into waist lengths a little here, but can the same be applied to the shoulder length/chest length parts? I’m using Simplicity 5914 (Petite) which is a shirt dress from the 70s, if that’s any help at all. Thank you so much for everything you have already done by providing this information! 🙂

    • So glad you found this helpful, Rosie! And, yes, you absolutely can lengthen the shoulder/bust area the same way you adjust for a long torso at the waist. Test it in muslin, and have fun!

  107. You mentioned exactly what I was going to ask you…your recommended method of grading up Janet Arnold’s patterns. I already have Swedish tracing paper, so should I use one-inch grid cutting board and inexpensive tracing paper to first scale up/re-size the patterns, then use the Swedish paper to create the final pattern pieces? Or should I just use the Swedish tracing paper and cutting board throughout the whole process, without getting regular tracing paper?

    • Hi, Shayna! You can actually get one-inch grid interfacing (which has the same feel as Swedish tracing “paper”) and create the pieces directly on it (really easy to draw with a grid in front of you). Then you can use my resizing method on the gridded pieces, tracing your final pieces onto the Swedish tracing paper. Have fun!

  108. Just want to say Thank you for your site as it has been quite a blessing to have come across it in my time of need. LOL..
    While attempting to up-size a pattern made for a 29″ Antique doll to fit my 31″ doll I realized the problem with just enlarging the pattern pieces 125 percent on my printer. I knew the minute I saw them that they still needed tweaking. So again my heartfelt thanks for your great pattern re-sizing tips as they actually advise on all the problem areas that I noticed with my up-sized pattern pieces. ; )

  109. I need help with up-sizing a pleated jacket and skirt doll pattern from a 29″ to a 31″ doll size.
    The pattern I am using was made for a specific model of antique doll so shape wise it will be okay.
    The issue I have is do I add more pleats the same size or make the pleats wider to accommodate the up-size of the pleated jacket and skirt?

    • Hi again! You can use the same width of pleats and add more. That will make for a more consistent look, as wider pleats will be too big for the scale of the doll. Hope it turns out beautifully!

      • Thank you for your fast response, I am laying out my pattern and cutting it out at this very moment… Yeah !!!

  110. Hi Jennie, when slashing and spreading to increase a size or more, are the slash lines always straight down vertically on the pattern, or is this governed by the straight grain line. I have seen patterns being slashed off on a slant and not vertically. I will be following all your guidelines to slashing and spreading and perhaps I can once again sew for myself as I have been too scared being different measurements to the bought dress patterns of which I have plenty. You have given me the confidence to tackle my issues and start sewing once again. Your blog is so interesting and informative just what I have been looking for. Thank you, appreciated.

    • Hi, Lesley! I’m so glad you’ve found this tutorial helpful! When slashing and spreading, you need to ignore the grain lines and slash vertically up and down (shoulder to hem or waist to hem, etc.). You’ll cut according to grain line later, but for enlarging or shrinking, you just need to add (or subtract) consistently. I hope this helps, and have fun sewing!

  111. I accidentally bought a US girls “plus size” pattern, and my daughter is anything but plus size. I understand how to cut down the pattern thanks to your very clear instructions, but I do have one question. Is the cutting down from “plus” to “regular” simply a matter of taking out the difference in inches, or is the pattern shape itself different to accommodate a chubbier child versus a slim one? The differences between a regular US girl size 12 and a 12+ is 3 inches in the chest, 4 1/2 inches in the waist and 4 inches in the hip. My daughter’s measurements fall between the regular size 10 and 12 so I’m going with size 12 for width and size 14 for height as she’s a tall, slender child. I’m trying to make pull-on shorts and a sleeveless top from Simplicity pattern 1175. Thanks!

    • Hi, Lesley! I’m so glad you found this helpful. Most plus-sized patterns for children add width in the waist to accommodate a prominent tummy–ditto the hips. So you will need to grade on a slight angle to nip in the waist and hip areas rather than just grading up uniformly. It’s absolutely kosher to grade between sizes in key areas. I show how to do this in one of my Regency tutorials, but the principle applies to all pattern types and works whether you are sizing up or down in a specific area. Happy sewing!

  112. This is a very helpful website, it’s so good that you answer queries. Thanks so much.
    I like to sew toddler’s clothes from vintage patterns. I’m going to try and monetize this a bit by sewing, say, size 1-3 in the same pattern and fabric, showing at craft fairs and the like. As you know patterns before the late 1980s are mostly single size. I do have series, mostly sizes 1-3, but for some really lovely patterns I can’t find one of the sizes. I have made a couple larger by simply copying the original in tracing paper, then slashing and spreading. I’ve had success making a size 3 pattern from a size 2 without enlarging the neck hole, But I think enlarging from size 1 to 2 does need the neck enlarged a bit. The obvious way to do this seems to be simply to make the dress extend a very small increased amount at the centre of the neckline – I think probably 1/8″ max. on front and back (which means 1/2″ in all, maybe too much?) Do you think this would work? I’ve done the armscye by simply lowering and flattening a bit. It all gets a bit tricky when, say, a pinafore dress/jumper pattern has a lovely inverted pleat at centre front. Do I add my 1/8″ OUTSIDE the inverted pleat? I can send you a photo if it would help.

    • Hi, Ellen! Sounds lovely, and you’re already finding all the right places to adjust. You can definitely add that 1/8″ at center front and back (total of 1/4″ rather than 1/2″), as sizes 1-2 cover that “baby fat” stage where toddlers don’t have much of a neck! You can just make the pleat as directed after adding the needed width. Just copy the spacing of the original pleat so you don’t end up taking in more fabric at that point. Hope that makes sense. Happy sewing!

      • Yes, it makes perfect sense! Thanks so much. So I need to add just 1/16″ to the pattern at the centre front and back, ie 1/8″ front and 1/8″ back. that sounds just right.. And yes I think I understand about keeping the original spacing of the inverted pleat; I have to move the pleat itself 1/16″ towards the centre, so I don’t end up cancelling out the amount I’ve enlarged the neckhole by. It’s so reassuring to have your answer!

        • Actually, it’s 1/4″ … 1/8 + 1/8 = 2/8 = 1/4 😊 1/16″ would be too small to make any difference. 😜 So move the pleat 1/8″ after adding that amount to the front. Happy sewing!

        • Hello Jennie,
          Just to tell you that in the end this turned out fine! But in fact 1/8″ was just a bit too much, remembering that is doubled and then quadrupled if you make similar size changes on the back also, which I did. Maybe that was the mistake! Anyway I had to unpick some (though thankfully not all!) of the neck binding, did resew the central inverted pleat 1/4″ wider, and all’s well now. At least I think it is, it looks to be about halfway between the size 1 and the size 3. I really really wish I could find the pattern in a size 2. I find resizing incredibly stressful and uncertain. As you said, 1/16″ is impossible….Maybe I will get better at it, stranger things have happened! Tell me that’s true…and thanks so much again for your help, I would never have had the confidence if I hadn’t found this blog, even though I’d done it before. As I get older I seem to find it harder to take new things on board.

        • Hi, Ellen! That’s great news. What I actually meant was for you to add only 1/8″ at the front and back when you slash and spread–no doubling. The total at the end is 1/4″ overall…not 1/4″ on the front and on the back. Sorry for the confusion, but I’m glad it turned out well anyway! 😊

  113. Well, somehow I made the shoulder seam wider than the size 3!! But I’ve changed the pattern now Of course I will have to unpick the bias round the armhole and make the actual size 2 dress narrower in the shoulders too not at the neck side but at the armscye side, then sew it back up. Overall, escept for the shoulder seams, it is actually narrower and shorter than the size 3. I do find it all very stressful..but without your help it would have been much, much worse! I seem to have to do things wrong in order to discover what is right!

    • “Doing things wrong in order to discover what is right” is really often the only way forward! When my mother taught me to sew at age nine, I balked at my first mistake and wanted to quit. I refused to do any more sewing on the spot. But when I got hooked on historical clothing four years later, I made the seam ripper my best friend…and a bolt of muslin! Always try your pattern alterations in muslin so you can tweak the toile. I spent four hours today with four young ladies (ages 10-13), teaching them to make a basic bodice sloper and tweak it until they got a perfect fit. There was a lot of re-pinning and adjusting, but the final results were wonderful, and I was so proud of their willingness to stick it out! Keep on keeping on; you’ll have beautiful final patterns as a result! 😀

  114. Hello,

    I am not sure if this site is still being monitored, but here goes…..

    I am hoping for help with sizing UP a pattern from a size 1 (chest sz 20″) UP to a sz 2 with a chest measurement of 21″. I have never resized a pattern so I am at a real loss here,but REALLY want to make this for my granddaughter. I don’t know how to get you the link, but the pattern is a Simplicity #8813. It is a nautical dress with a collar and puff sleeves.
    Do I assume that since the chest sz is 1″ larger than the existing pattern piece, that I enlarge front and back bodices by 1″ total? The front bodice is not a straight-forward bodice shape, but the back is. (The front shows the bodice left half and then a “V” shape toward the right…I am probably confusing you…I am sorry!)
    Is there any hope for helping me with this, or is it too hard without the pattern for you to look at? It’s a darling pattern, so I hope you can help me!

    Thank you for ANY help you can give me!
    Anne Wickman

    • Hi, Anne! Because this is a child’s pattern, you will slash at only two places on the bodice front and back: under the arm and through the middle of the neckline down. This means you skip slashing at the shoulder. With only two slashes front and back, you will add 1/4″ when you spread each slash. That makes a total of one inch altogether. If you have an odd-shaped bodice back, trace each piece, then overlap the areas to be joined (the same amount as the seam allowance) and tape them together. When you slash, you’ll go through both pieces at the same point, and that solves any difficulty. For sleeves, slash through the underarm curves and the center of the sleeves. Spread and add 1/2″ at the center slash, then 1/4″ at each underarm slash for a total of one inch. That should do the trick, and happy sewing!

      • Hi Jennie,

        Thank you for responding to me! I am still a little unclear….You said I would be slashing in two places on front and back bodices…so 4 slashes altogether, right? If I slash at EACH underarm using 1/4″ each side on front, then each side on back), then that gives 1″ extra just for those slices… 1/4″ twice on front and 1/4″ twice on back= 1/2″ front + 1/2″ back. Then, if I slash neckline down on back, and TRY to slash on front (it is an odd shape), then that gives an additional 1/2″ total (from both bodices). That would total 1 1/2 “…Is that right or am I still figuring it wrong? I’m thinking it might be easier to try and enlarge the whole pattern on a copier and take my chances! Maybe if the whole pattern is enlarged so that it ends up being 1/4″ all the way around larger than my existing pattern, that might do it??? (or maybe it needs to be enlarged so that the new pattern is 1/2″ larger since I need another 1”. )

        • Oh, golly! That’s what I get for posting with postpartum brain! You’re absolutely right. Because so little is being added, just do this instead: add 1/4″ at the front and back side seams and at the top of the shoulders. Forget slashing and spreading, because you’d only at 1/8″ in that case! Children also need more length added between sizes, so add 1/4″ at the center of the neckline, tapering to the shoulder edge down to nothing. Then add 1/2″ to the length of the bodice pieces, sleeves, and skirt at the bottom. Hope this helps!

  115. YES!!! That makes a lot more sense to me! Thank you for your help! I think this will work the best of all!!

  116. Hi Jennie,

    Please bear with me for another question?! I am cutting out the pattern now, with the additions that you suggested. My question is this….the pattern calls for 5/8″ seam allowances. Are the 1/4″ and 1/2″ additions enough or should I reduce the seam allowances down to 1/2″…or would that change things too much?

    This is so hard sewing for a little one out of town!..I plan to make a mock bodice, but will have to mail it out to be tried on before proceeding with the good fabric.

    So sorry to bother you again with this same pattern, but I have never resized anything before! Thank you for your patience and expertise!!

    Anne 🙂

    • Hi, Anne! Never hesitate to ask questions; that’s what I’m here for! You do not need to change the seam allowance. It needs to stay the same. All the room you need will be there when you add to the pattern itself. Have fun!

  117. Hi Jennie,

    Thank you once again! I am keeping my fingers crossed that I do it right!! 😉
    I also added 1/4″ to the collar outer edges (it is a sailor dress pattern), and 1/4″ to the outer edges of the neck facings. I’m hoping that adding 1/4″ on side edges of the sleeve will give enough extra room.
    I really don’t have a good a good handle on this enlarging, but will try with a mock bodice. If it works, I’ll make the real thing! (Can you tell I over think everything I am unsure about?!???!! ) It’ll be a miracle if it all comes together!
    Thanks again!! 😉

  118. How do you know exactly where to place the lines to cut? The diagrams aren’t clear to me, are there specific measurements that determine where they are to be placed? Thanks for all of you helpful advice, I’ve read through all the comments on this post!

    • Hi, Katie! Glad this has been helpful, and, nope, there are no specific measurements, because every pattern is unique. It’s best to just check the diagram and eyeball your own pattern. Essentially, you need to slash at points that will go through the collarbone/bust, the shoulder, and the underarm. With some patterns, you’ll need to overlap pieces (like side back and back) to have the slash line go through both continuously from top to bottom. Just overlap the same amount as the seam allowance, then separate the pieces after slashing and spread each one equally. I hope this helps, but don’t hesitate to post more questions if you have more!

  119. Hello,

    Could you please help me? My 2 year old grandson has a very prominent belly due to a medical condition. I like to sew his button front shirts and need some extra room in the belly in a size 3. How can I alter the pattern, please?

    Thank you

  120. Hi Jennie,

    I’m attempting to increase the size of a dress from 14 to 16 and increase the bodice from a D to a G cup at the same time. Is there a way to do this?

    Thank you for your time.

  121. Thank you for writing this, I’ve always found pattern resizing a bit intimidating but you’ve explained it well. Especially the part about the arm holes, I always sized my sleeves up far too much previously! I’m off to resize some patterns 😀

  122. Hi Jennie. Thank you for these instructions. I have a question regarding resizing the Edwardian dress pattern. My measurements are +9″ at the bust and +11″ at the waist and hips from the size 18 measurements. I am also short waisted, and narrow in the shoulders (I’m 5′ overall). Can a pattern be resized that much in one slash and spread? I would like to buy the pattern but feel quite intimidated by resizing such a large change. And resizing in smaller increments means a huge amount of paper. Your guidance would be greatly appreciated.

    • You can definitely size that pattern up the full amount, and you want to “grade” between the bust and the waist so that you add more fullness from the natural waist down. In other words, don’t grade the entire pattern up 11″ at the start. What you need to do is size the whole pattern up the 9″ for the bust measurement, then grade the waist/hips out by drawing the new lines coming out gradually from the bust area. I show how to do this above under “The Rest of the Pattern.” The sample skirt shown is for a Regency gown, but the idea is the same. Because you will need two more inches in the waist/hips, you will need to add one inch total to the front pieces in those areas and one inch to the back pieces. Since there are two skirt panels each for front and back, you’ll need to grade out half an inch on each. Start with your pencil at the top of each panel, then use a French curve tool to redraw the line gradually as you go down from that point. By the time you reach the natural waist, you need to have your tool half an inch away from the original line. This is harder to explain than it is to do, and once you have tools in hand, I think you will see exactly what to do. The skirt of this dress is slightly flared, so don’t worry overmuch about adding “too much” to this area. It is going to fall in graceful folds when sewn together.

      Let me know if you have any questions, and I will be happy to walk you through it!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.