How to Adjust the Waist on a Pattern

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How to Adjust the Waist on a Pattern
Adjust the pattern for a garment that fits you perfectly. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Sewing patterns are based on the proportions of fit models, but not everyone has the proportions of a fit model. If your waist measurement falls under one size, but your chest and hip measurements are indicated for another size, you will need to adjust the pattern to make it fit you. One of the advantages of making your own clothing is that you need not make do with a garment that fits in some areas but not others. Adjusting the pattern is key to enjoying the full benefits of a handmade garment.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Sewing pattern
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • French curve (recommended)
  • Scissors

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Instructions

    Measuring and Sizing

  1. 1

    Look on the back of the pattern envelope for the needed torso measurements. Skirt patterns may only require a waist and hip measurement. Blouse or tunic patterns may require a bust, waist and hip measurement. Trousers patterns may require additional measurements for the rise and seat.

  2. 2

    Measure these areas wearing lightweight clothing. Bulky or very loose clothing will distort the measurement. Have someone else measure you, if possible.

  3. 3

    Determine the sizes your measurements correspond to, based on the measurements listed on the back of the envelope. Do not use your ready-made clothing size. Mark these sizes with your pencil.

    Cutting the Pattern

  1. 1

    Open the pattern envelope, and lay the pieces out flat. Set aside pieces for sleeves and garments that you will not be sewing right away. Locate the pattern waistline. For all blouses, locate the bust line, and for skirts, trousers and hip-length blouses and tunics, locate the line for the fullest part of the hip.

  2. 2

    Find the line on the pattern piece that corresponds to your waist measurement size. The sizes will be written beneath the lines on the pattern, when you hold the piece so that the numbers are right side up. Mark this line with a pencil at the waistline.

  3. 3

    Find the lines on the pattern piece that correspond to the other torso measurements for the pattern piece. Mark the lines at these points with your pencil.

  4. 4

    Connect these marks with your pencil. Use the French curve to keep the line smooth. Repeat for all pattern pieces that fit the waist.

  5. 5

    Cut the pattern pieces out. If you are cutting a blouse pattern from the top down, follow the bust measurement size line. If you are cutting a pattern piece starting from the hem of a skirt, trousers, or hem of a hip-length top, follow the hip measurement size line. Follow the line you drew when it begins to break away from the main pattern, and resume cutting along the main pattern where the line you drew ends.

Tips and warnings

  • If this is a pattern you like or want to share, trace your adjusted pattern onto sewable pattern paper for a master pattern. The master pattern is more durable than the tissue paper most sewing patterns are printed on.
  • Check the measurements for sleeve and pant length -- you may not be the height the pattern designer expects you to be.

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