Posted by on Feb 16, 2015 in Sewing, Theory | Comments Off on Resizing a Retail Pattern

In the last couple of posts, I’ve mentioned first, that I always cut patterns out to their largest size, and second, that I always purchase the largest size available. That’s because I can always imagine a situation where I might have to use the pattern again for a different size, and it’s far easier to make a pattern smaller than it is to make one bigger. This post is dedicated to showing you the basics of both.

Sizing down

When you cut out a pattern to its largest size, you’re allowing yourself the option for all the sizes that the pattern was created for.

Usually, each piece will only have one side that has the sides marked on it so that this particular method can be utilized to its greatest ability. I call the two different sides of a pattern the “stable” side and the “adjustable” side.

stable adjustableUsing your paper scissors, cut into the adjustable side of the pattern to the size you’d like. Where the pattern curves, make cuts approximately every inch. In this picture, we wanted the smallest size.

IMG_0633After you’ve cut into the adjustable side all the way around the pattern, fold the pattern in to the size you want.

IMG_0634Using the freezer paper preservation method, you can iron the pattern with the folds in it to keep it the proper size while you use it or you can trace the smaller size onto another piece of paper, if you’d like.

Sizing up

Sometimes, you can’t get the largest size available in a pattern. Sometimes, the largest size isn’t large enough. There are several scenarios where you might want to to make a pattern bigger. Many books recommend taking the pattern you have and taping little bits of paper to it to “size it up.” This only makes for a temporary fix, and I don’t really like the results. To size up a pattern, I trace the largest size I have available on a piece of my patterning paper.

upsize 1Using the size chart, I calculate the difference between what size I traced and and the size I want.

size chart 1This requires a little math. Let’s say the pattern you’re using only goes up to size 16, but you need it to be size 20. First, you calculate the difference between the size you have and the size you need.

size chart 2Next, determine how many adjustable seams are in this piece and double that number. To find where your adjustable seams are, count how many areas have sizing areas. For example, the below pattern has 2 seams, but 4 adjustable areas.

size upsize chart 3Finally, divide the difference by the number of adjustable areas to get how much you should add to the pattern to reach your final size. (Quick note, this can also be done to size down a pattern by more than it is designed.)

size chart 4Then, I mark the bust, waist, and hip lines that are visible on the pattern. upsize 2Using each of those lines, I mark on the paper where the edge of the new pattern should be. upsize 3Because there are many curves in a pattern, I mark the difference between what the pattern measures and what it should measure every inch or so. upsize 4Keep in mind that the pattern already has seam allowance added in, so you shouldn’t need to add it again. Now connect the dots and you have your new pattern!

upsize 5

Customizing your size

These two techniques also allow you a great deal of flexibility in the shape of the body that you’ll make it for. Using your method of sizing a pattern down and your tracing paper, you can customize the size of your garment. Let’s assume the most simple dress pattern ever made:

custom 1For the purposes of this diagram, pretend that your bust measures a size 3, your waist measures a size 5, and your hips are between size 4 and 5. This pattern would be marked at the bust, waist and hips like most other patterns. Here, I’ve drawn them in red.

custom 2First, you would mark the size for each of these lines. (Note for those who sew and are reading this for reference – no, I wouldn’t bring in an A-line dress in at the hips, but this is only an illustration.)

custom 3The stable (left) side won’t change. The top of the dress should be sized the same as the bust.

custom 4

Extra sizes removed to ease confusion.

Then the area between the bust and waist would be drawn at an angle so as to go from size 3 to size 5.

custom 5Likewise, the area between the waist and hips would be drawn at an angle. Here, because the measurement is between sizes, so is the end point of the line. The remainder of the pattern would be drawn along the final size line.

custom 8 custom 6 custom 7


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