How to Lengthen or Shorten a Sewing 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
  • Scotch (or clear) Tape
  • 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

If your pattern does not have a “Lengthen or shorten here” line on it, you can use the grid on your cutting board as a guide to create one.
Sewing pattern adjustment

sewing pattern adjustment image

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

Pin sewing pattern to cutting board image

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

measure new pattern length image

Finally, using some scrap tissue from the pattern, I tape an extension piece between the two pattern pieces.

Lengthen a sewing pattern image
Now that the pieces are taped together, I can remove the pins and work on the next pattern piece. Make sure you adjust all corresponding pattern pieces so that they are all matching lengths.