Today I’d like to go over how to easily adjust the length of the bodice or sleeve pieces if needed. This is a quick and easy fix and all you’ll need to get started is your pattern, the usual pattern-tracing tools (pencil, scissors, tape, ruler, etc.), paper and your measurements. (I also have pictures of my Swing Dress fabric–scroll to the end for that!)
I’m only showing the front bodice piece, but the same applies for the back as well. Remember: what you add to the front, you’ll want to adjust for in the back as well so that the side seam lengths are the same! Now this piece is a bit tricky to measure for length, because of the way the neckline and waist are (yet another good reason to make a muslin so you can double check things!). But to get the neck-to-waist measure, use a ruler or tape measure to measure as in the photo below on both the bodice front and midriff pieces (note that the midriff piece is measured from the top edge to approximately the center where the side seam dips in for the waist):
Add the two measurements together and subtract 1 1/2″ (for seam allowances). Compare the length measurement to your own neck-to-waist measure and find the difference. Whether you are lengthening or shortening the piece, the next step is to cut the pattern along the “lengthen/shorten” line.
To shorten the piece: on the bottom half of the bodice piece measure down the amount you need to reduce the length by. Draw a line this width across the piece.
Overlap the top half of the bottom, lining it up with the line you just ruled across the piece, and tape in place, lining up the front edges.
Along the side seam, use your ruler to smooth the seam line and reconnect the underarm and waist edges (this is called “truing” in pattern drafting–Jacki posted a good explanation recently).
To lengthen the pattern piece: Tape the bottom half of the pattern on a piece of paper. Measure up from the cut edge the amount you need to lengthen the piece. Draw a line across your paper at this width. Line up the top piece’s cut edge with this line and tape in place. Along the side seam even-out the line from the underarm to waist.
To lengthen the back piece, you will want to follow the same procedure, but instead measuring the length of the pattern as shown below (just remember to subtract 1″ for seam allowances):
As for the bodice, lengthening the sleeves are just a matter of measuring and comparing (your overall arm measurement, shoulder/elbow or elbow/cuff length), cutting the pattern apart and either overlapping or spreading it the desired amount. Just be sure to blend the seam edges with each other so to create a smooth and even line as shown above for the bodice. For long sleeves, you can cut the pattern apart at one of two places: the “lengthen/shorten” line indicated on the pattern (black line) to decrease/increase the shoulder to elbow measure or below the elbow darts to shorten/lengthen the forearm length (red line below the elbow darts) if needed. Or you can use a combination of those two points as required as well, especially if you have to adjust the length drastically. To mark the bottom cutting line, measure down from the pattern-marked “length/shorten” line past the elbow darts and mark a line across at this point. Cut and spread/overlap as required. Just remember if you are using more than one adjustment line to divide the amount you need to adjust by two!/p>
Note I’ve included the shorten line at the top for the short sleeve version in this image. Ignore if you’re adjusting the 3/4 length sleeve!
For the short sleeve view, if you want to adjust the length you can do one of two things: Shorten the sleeve at the hem edge or create a horizontal line to lengthen/shorten as for the long sleeve view. I tend to do the latter since I like to keep the original hem circumference (which is narrower, as the sleeve seams curve inward slightly). You will want to create this line by measuring up from the pattern’s original “shorten/lengthen” line about halfway up the short sleeve length (not taking into account the cap height). Mark this line across and continue as before to reach the desired length.
Does all this make sense? In some ways I really struggled to explain all this in a way that wasn’t too confusing. So please feel free to ask questions if you’ve got one. Honestly, I think it’s a lot easier once you begin to make these adjustments–the only possibly tricky part is marking the lines and making sure you measured right. Otherwise piece of cake!
I’m hoping to get the small bust adjustment tutorial up on Thursday at some point. After that, I dare say we’ll be ready to cut out the muslin versions and get to work on that! (But I have a few things to say about that, so sit tight for now!) Judging by my schedule right now I’m giving us 1 1/2 weeks to do this before we finalize our muslins, transfer the corrections to the pattern and cut out the fashion fabric (exciting!). Be sure to join the Flickr group if you haven’t already–I think that will come in handy as we each start to fit and critique our muslins!
Now for what I’m really excited to show you: my fabric! I ordered this beautiful silk last week for my dress and it arrived Friday, much to my delight. I fell in love with the soft pastel turquoise blue and the wispy flowers that reminds me of the 40s prints I covet so! I will be underlining this, however, since it’s a bit sheer at this point. So for those of you who have inquired about underlining, I will be covering this! The little buttons are vintage rhinestones that I’m thinking of using for the brooch/button on the bodice, but haven’t decided. I need to go through my brooch collection and see if I have anything suitable…