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How to Lengthen or Shorten a Pattern

    Lengthening patterns is easy to do when you have purchased a pattern from one of the more popular pattern companies (such as Mccalls, Butterick, Vogue, Simplicity, etc.) but you can use this knowledge to alter ANY pattern.

Before you get started, I recommend having the following items handy:

  • Cutting board with grid
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Tape
  • Ruler or measuring tape


    In this case, I am lengthening the pattern pieces for a pair of pants by one inch. You will need to determine how much longer or shorter you need your pattern piece to be and go with that measurement. I separated out all the pieces that needed to be lengthened. Make sure you adjust ALL the necessary pieces! I have made the mistake of lengthening one side but forgetting the other - it can be frustrating, time consuming, and sometimes an expensive mistake! So just be sure you adjust them all the first time. In the example images below, I demonstrate how to lengthen a pattern, but you would use the same principles to shorten one as well.

I cut along the "Lengthen or Shorten Here" line

pattern with lengthen or shorten here line

cutting along lengthen or shorten line


Then I pin one piece down to the cutting board. I line up the edge to one of the lines.

pinning the top of the pattern to cutting board


Next I pin the second piece an inch away from the first, making sure the grain line is still lined up.

measuring new pattern length


Finally, using some scrap tissue from the pattern, I tape an extension piece between the two pattern pieces.
Now that the pieces are taped together, I can remove the pins and work on the next pattern piece.

lengthened pattern




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