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3.07.2016

How To Shorten A Pattern--Free Tutorial

When I recently made a hoodie for myself, according to the finished measurements given, the hoodie would sit halfway down my thighs. I didn't want the over-sized look, so I needed to shorten my bodice pieces. I could have just hacked a couple of inches off the bottom of the finished hoodie (and honestly that's probably what I would have done in the past), but then I would lose the shaping effect of the princess seams and the finished hoodie would look just odd. 

Here's a quick and easy method for shortening a pattern. I use this same method when shortening sleeves or pants as well.
It is simple and only involves a little bit of math. For this tutorial, I am using a Terra's Treasures pattern, but you can follow these steps to make this adjustment to any pattern.


The first step in shortening a pattern is to decide how much shorter you need the pattern to be. According to my measurements, my bodice needed to be three inches shorter, which meant that I needed to remove 3 inches out of the pattern.

Each pattern piece should have a line that says shorten or lengthen here, or something similar. Since I needed to remove 3 inches from the pattern piece, I divided 3 inches in half and got 1.5 inches. I placed my tape measure with the 1.5 inch mark directly on the shorten line. You will notice that my tape measure extends above the shorten line 1.5 inches and below the shorten line 1.5 inches. If you needed to remove 4 inches from the pattern, you would divide 4 by 2 and line up your tape measure at the 2 inch mark on the shorten line.
Now make a mark at the top of your tape measure and at the 3 inch mark. If you were removing a different amount from your pattern piece, you would place your marks at the appropriate mark for how many inches you are removing. Make these same marks in a couple of places across the shorten or lengthen line. 
Here is my piece with the marks, but before I folded out the excess amount of the pattern piece. You will want to mark each pattern piece in the same way. My pattern piece had 4 bodice pieces--a front, back, and the front and back sides, so I had to make the same adjustment to each of those pieces.
Now that your marks are made, simply fold the pattern piece in half with the printed sides touching. You will be folding this first fold directly on the shorten or lengthen line. Once that fold is made, match up the marks that you made and fold the top half of the pattern piece back. You should now have a sandwich of paper with the 3 inches (or whatever amount you needed to subtract) out of the way. If you aren't sure that you did it correctly, you can do a quick check. Unfold your pattern piece and measure the full length of it--write it down. Re-fold your paper, matching your marks, and measure the pattern piece again. If you have folded it correctly, it should be 3 inches shorter (or the same as the amount that you removed) than your first measurement.
Use some strips of tape to keep your folds in place. I like to tape on the front and the back of the pattern piece so that it doesn't interfere with cutting out my fabric. You will also want to remember to transfer any pattern markings or notches.
The last thing left to do is to even out the edges of your pattern piece. When you folded out the excess, it probably left some ragged edges that won't look very attractive. I just used a pen to re-draw the curve of the new line. Use scissors to trim the edges to match your new line. Don't forget to adjust all of your pattern pieces before cutting out your fabric.
So how did it go? I'd love to hear any tips and tricks you have for lengthening or shortening a pattern!


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