Part 4B: Pattern Adjustments!!

Welcome to Part 4B!!  Thanks for all the GREAT emails about Part 4A!!  I’m glad I decided to split Part 4 into 2 segments because I have a great deal of information to share.  So let’s get going!!
Now it’s time to talk about pattern adjustments.  The goal of using a multi sized pattern was to try to get a pattern as close to your working measurements as possible using a range of sizes.  By blending sizing in your pattern, we hope to achieve a close fit to your measurements.  Remember, our bodies are dimensional and it may be necessary to do further small adjustments (tweaking) to your working sample.  Just as I did in Part 4A, I will addressing all of the vertical adjustments first and then move on to the horizontal adjustments.
Your center back and center front lengths are very important to adjust and put into proper alignment before you start adjusting your bust, waist and hip measurements.  If they are longer or shorter than the actual pattern length, you will need to add length or subtract length to both your front and back pattern pieces.  This process is simple.  Draw a line across both front and back pattern pieces above the waistline.  Many patterns have a line designated for this adjustment.  The red line on the photo illustration shows the cutting line on the front and back pattern pieces.  If length needs to be added, cut on this line and add the missing measurement.  For example:  if your center back measurement is 16″ and the pattern measures 15 1/2″, you need to add 1/2″ to your length.  The same is true if the center back length is too long.  Cut the patterns apart and over lap the appropriate amount. 
The shoulder slope is adjusted by either raising or lowering the shoulder point to make it parallel to your traced shoulder slope.  The red line is the original shoulder line of the pattern.  If the shoulder slope is to high, it will need to be lowered.  This is shown in the photo illustration in the green line.  Just pivot the shoulder slope down from the neck point the necessary amount.  If the shoulder slope is too low, it will need to be raised.  This is shown is the photo illustration in the blue line.  Just pivot the shoulder slope up at the neck point the necessary amount.  Changing the slope of the shoulder will also require you to check your sleeve for fit in the newly created armhole.  It may need adjustment as well depending on how much slope you added or subtracted.
 Now that you’ve adjusted your shoulder slope, let’s adjust the shoulder length.  The red line is the original shoulder line of the pattern in the photo illustration.  If you need to shorten the shoulder length, start at the end of the shoulder point and remove the amount necessary.  Next blend the line back into the armhole keeping the shoulder point square.
The same is true if you need to add to your shoulder length.  Add the amount necessary and then blend back into the armhole.  Make sure to add these adjustments to the back pattern as well.  Make sure after both of these adjustments you “true” your shoulder point.
If after shortening the waistline if you find that your bust point (apex) still isn’t positioned correctly, you may need to adjust the front dart.  In this photo illustration the red dart represents the dart in it’s original position on the pattern.  The black dart is the new dart which was moved higher and the blue dart is moved lower.  Moving the dart is done by locating where your bust point should be according to your measurement and moving the whole dart into position.  After you move your dart, you must correct your side seam.  If you are making adjustments to your side seams, true this dart after you make those adjustments.
The side seams are the easiest adjustments to make on multi sized patterns.  Find where your working measurements fit into the pattern sizing best in all 4 positions.  The bust, waistline, high hip and hip and make the adjustments from there.  The first photo illustration shows how to adjust for sizing up the pattern in the waistline one size.  Starting at nothing at the top of the side seam, taper the seam line out to the next sizing line.
The next photo illustration shows how to adjust for a smaller waistline.  Start at the top of the seam line and taper the side seam down at the waistline and taper back out as you move toward the hipline.
The last photo illustration shows the side seam tapered out at the waistline and hipline.  Start from nothing at the top of the side seam, grade out one size at the waistline and out one more size at the hipline.  Use combinations of these grading and tapering techniques to achieve the size in the area you need your measurement to reflect.  Once you’re finished adjusting your back side seam and have the measurements you need, lay the back pattern on top of the top pattern and copy the new side seam line.  This will insure that they are exactly the same.  Make sure if you have a front dart to close the dart before you copy the seam line.  Also make sure you “true” the side seam at the top and bottom.  This is make sure your opened side seam will flow smoothly from back to front with no point at the side seam.
If there is an adjustment in the shoulder area, either adding to or removing from the slope it may also be necessary to make an adjustment to the sleeve bicep line.  If you added to your shoulder slope, cut  in the center of the sleeve and add the same amount added to the shoulder slope.  If you added 1/4″ in the front and a 1/4″ in the back add 1/2″ to the center of the sleeve.  If you lowered your shoulder slope by 1/4″ in the front and a 1/4″ in the back then take out a 1/2″ in the center of the sleeve.  After either adjustment, check the measurement against your working bicep measurement as well as walking the sleeve pattern around the armhole to check the fit.  You sleeve will always be slightly fuller than your arm hole to allow for ease in the sleeve cap.
Check your cap height to make sure your sleeve won’t pull at the arm hole, underarm side seam.  Check this by comparing it to your cap height measurement.  If your working measurement is more that your pattern measurement you will need to add to the cap.  Cut on the red line and add the amount necessary.  If your working measurement is more than your pattern fold over the necessary amount.   After either adjustment, blend the pattern lines and check your sleeve fit by walking the sleeve pattern around the armhole.
If you’ve made adjustments to the top of the side seam either by adding or subtracting it will be necessary to make adjustments to your sleeve seam also.  The red line in the photo illustration shows the original sleeve line.  If you graded the pattern out at the side seam simply grade out the sleeve seam as well the same amount. 
I hope you will find Part 4A and Part 4B particularly helpful as you continue on with this series.  I’ve heard that many people get to the point of being measured and then really don’t  know what to do with those measurements let alone how to even attempt pattern adjustments.  I hope by showing all of these photo illustrations, this process becomes clearer on how to continue from where many may have gotten stuck in the past.  I tried to show pattern adjustments in general and give you the information to tailor it to your needs.  Feel free to contact me with any questions you might have.
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6 Responses to Part 4B: Pattern Adjustments!!

  1. deb says:

    You make no reference to changing the size of the dart, thus adding additional length to the front. Also, should we be checking the circumference plus ease for the front rather than the whole to account for a larger cup size? When I look at the measurements for the front bust on my pattern, it's plenty big to go around me, but when I measure just the front of the pattern, I see that it will be too small for my front bust measure plus ease.

  2. Hi Deb! Thanks for the great question. Yes, you are one of the people I referenced back in part one with a less balanced shape in the front. You will need to measure the front and back separately and make your adjustments from there. I would suggest that you select your size from your front bust measurement and remove from your back pattern piece where you don't need the extra room. This will give you a good fit accommodating the inches in the front you need and removing all those extra inches in the back that you don't.
    You're correct, I didn't suggest changing the size of the dart only repositioning the dart for a lower or higher bust.

  3. glorm says:

    Let's say 1/2" is added to each upper side seam. Most of the references say to add half that amount to the sleeve underarm seam, 1/4" in this case, without any explanation as to why only half the amount. Any ideas? What am I missing here?

    Again, thank you for doing this.

  4. Hi glorm, If you look at the paragraph right above the last photo illustration you will see that I suggest you add the same amount to your under arm seam as you added to your side seam. Hope this answers your question??

  5. glorm says:

    Yes, I do it the way you wrote, but I was just wondering why so many say to do the sleeve seam only half the amount, which never made sense to me. I will continue to do it the way I have been, which is the way you mentioned. 🙂

  6. I'm not exactly sure why glorm. I can only speculate that many times patterns are selected too large in the first place and sleeves tend to be somewhat more generous anyway. I've read recently that one popular sewist removes 3/4" down the center of all her jacket sleeves. I tend to agree, but would always measure just to make sure. This is why I suggest measuring so many different points and using those measurements with ease added to actually measure the patterns before altering anything. I think most of you following along will find that with my method, you may not have as many alterations to your patterns.

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