Chapt 17 - Pattern Alterations
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Table of Contents ] Chapt 1 - Fabric ] Chapt 2 - Tools and Equipment ] Chapt 3 - The Sewing Machine ] Chapt 4 - Patterns ] Chapt 5 - Pressing ] Chapt 6 - Marking The Fabric ] Chapt 7 - Preparing to Begin ] Chapt 8 - Seams ] Chapt 9 - Seam Finishes ] Chapt 10 - Stabilization ] Chapt 11 - Control of Fullness ] Chapt 12 - Finishing Edges ] Chapt 13 - Hand Sewing ] Chapt 14 - Closures ] Chapt 15 - Body Measurements ] Chapt 16 - Ease In Clothing ] [ Chapt 17 - Pattern Alterations ] Chapt 18 - Finished Dimensions ] Chapt 19 - Common Terms ] Chapt 20 - Common Costume Fabrics ] Index of Sewing Exercises ]

Altering paper patterns may seem complex and confusing, but in reality it is all based on very simple principles. Purchasing the correct size in the desired pattern is the most important step. Consult the Body Measurement section of this book for guidelines.

Paper patterns are flat, therefore any alteration made to the pattern must allow the pattern to lie flat or the garment will not fit or hang properly.

Consult the guide to Fitting Standards to determine how a garment should look. Measure the pattern pieces, allow for wearing and design ease present and compare with the body measurements. Note any additions or deletions to be made. Wearing ease can not be used instead of altering the pattern to larger measurements.

LENGTH ADJUSTMENTS comprise the bulk of pattern alterations done on commercial patterns. The basic bodice and skirt are illustrated, but the process is the same for any garment.

bulletShortening garment pieces is done by folding the pattern along the alteration lines up half the desired amount. Pin and tape these folds in place. True up side seams by trimming excess paper away. Skirts and some other garments can be shortened by cutting the pattern off at the desired length When shortening in this manner, do not forget to allow for a hem.
bulletLengthening pattern pieces requires cutting the pattern apart on the alteration lines and spreading the amount needed. Place a piece of paper under the pattern pieces and tape the alteration in place. True up the seamlines by connecting the existing seamlines with a pencil and trimming any excess away. Garments may also be lengthened by adding to the bottom of the pattern in some cases.

CIRCUMFERENCE ADJUSTMENTS incorporate several different techniques, depending on the amount to be deleted or added.

Small garment additions are done by simply adding to the outside edges of the pattern piece. Divide the amount to be added by the number of garment seams available. Do not include the CF and CB seams in this count. It is unwise to add to the CF and CB seams, since this affects the neckline as well. Once the measurement is arrived at, simply extend the pattern piece by that measurement in the area needed. Added fullness could be added to the entire side seam or the fullness could be added only at the waistline seam.

This type of pattern alteration will only success fully work when dealing with amounts of no more than 2" total.

The seams must be trued up by duplicating the curve/angle that was present in the original garment. The new seam line created must also match all other pattern pieces to be attached in length. Adding to a pattern, generally, lengthens the seam line, so some adjustment in the length of the garment must be done.

Large amounts of added fullness must be added to the pattern using the slash and spread method. Once again divide the total amount to be added by the number of body pattern pieces that it can go into. The pattern is then slashed (cut) and a piece of paper inserted. The pattern is spread the desired amount, taped in place and any seam lines trued up.
If added fullness is needed at the hip, but in order for the pattern, to lie flat after the alteration, is made with a small amount of fullness added to the waistline. In this case the measurement of how much is needed is taken at the hip line.
If added fullness is needed to both waist and hips, the pattern is slashed in two pieces and the fullness added down the entire pattern piece. This alteration will increase the width of the garment along the hem line.
If he added fullness is given to one garment area only, for example the hip line, generally patterns may be slashed to the nearest seam line. This is most often a diagonal line.

Using the slash and spread method a great deal of fullness can be added to the pattern. Although, if more than 5"-6" is needed, the wrong size pattern was purchased.

Reducing the amount of fullness present in a pattern is done by moving the seam line to the inside of the original seam line or by folding and pinning the pattern to eliminate fullness. Once again, divide the amount to be removed by the number of available seams. Do not use CF or CB since this will make the neckline to tight. If fullness has only to be removed from certain areas, at the point of removal mark how far in to place the new seam line Then draw a new seam line, tapering back to the original as smoothly as possible. Fullness removed from the the waistline is removed from both waist and hips. If the fullness has to be removed from large areas, the pattern may sometime be folded and pinned. The garment is reduced at the waist, hips and through the skirt circumference. These folds follow the placement guideline for slashing and spreading, and must not affect the neckline or armseye. These folds will also affect the width at the bottom of the garment.

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