How do I change a sewing pattern

Adjusting the pattern (part 1)

Anyone who sews clothes will probably sooner or later come across the fact that sewing patterns often have to be adapted to the individual physique.

That is, "must" is of course relative. First of all: I think what is allowed is allowed! As long as you feel comfortable and are satisfied with your sewing result, you don't need to change anything, of course! You determine how tight or how wide, how short or how long your garment is, which parts of the body You want to emphasize and You determine what to you stands and what "beneficial" for You is!

Often, however, the desire arises to improve the fit of a self-sewn garment, and then often many questions arise around the topic of pattern adjustments.


I understand that: you sew an item of clothing, ideally you have studied the table of measurements beforehand and selected the size accordingly, invested time, work and material, and then the item of clothing somehow doesn't look that great on you - that is, of course, one for now Disappointment! It looked so nice on the girlfriend, the sewing blogger, on the photos on Instagram, etc.! You are probably angry now that you wasted material and bought the pattern and curse the designer, or - still much worse - you are frustrated because you think that something is wrong with your body, with your figure.

But it is not like that!

When constructing patterns (unless it is a made-to-measure pattern for ONE person), it is no different than using average values. There is of course a certain leeway (which specific measurement tables (which are not uniform!) And average values ​​are assumed; aspects of the design such as fullness etc.), but categories and generalizations are always required.

Of course: even if there are rules for the construction of patterns, every designer and every brand has their own signature and is probably also shaped by personal preferences. Therefore, the pants cut of Label 1 will not be exactly the same as that of Label 2, even if both offer pants with wide legs and elastic waistband, for example.

Perhaps you have already tested your way through a few styles and editing providers. You may also have found cuts that fit you well - wonderful, then you can stick with it. If not, then you can keep looking - but you can also take matters into your own hands to a certain extent. Because "real" bodies are different! (In the following I always write about women, but of course men's and children's bodies are also different and cuts have to be adjusted here as well.)

For example:

Two women choose the same clothing size according to the measurement table, the measured body circumference at chest, waist and hips is the same or very similar for both. Now one woman has a wide pelvis and flat buttocks, the other has narrower hips and a round bottom - but both get a similar or even exactly the same value for the hip circumference when they put the tape measure around their bodies.

One woman has a broad upper body and rather flat breasts, the other is rather narrow, but has a large breast - the all-round measurement for the chest circumference is the same again.

Both women have the same body length, but the ratio of upper and lower body does not have to be the same, for example, one can have much longer legs than the other, and the natural waist (the narrowest part of the body) can be in a different place. ..

And so on, and so on ... there are also other factors such as posture. One woman has a hollow back, the other a rounded back, one has sloping or forward-sloping shoulders, the other a slightly tilted pelvis, one woman is muscular, the other is not, etc. etc. In addition, bodies are not symmetrical. They also change over the course of life, so age can also play a role. Not to be forgotten are additional factors such as the underwear that is being worn - depending on the bra you choose, a top can fit completely differently (think of the difference between a soft non-wired bra and a push-up bra; some women also want to don't wear a bra at all ...)

Very important: All of these peculiarities are not abnormalities, blemishes, or flaws - It is completely normal that human bodies are built differently, and these small differences are not immediately apparent and many are not even aware of them.

From this point of view, it is actually not so surprising that a pattern does not fit equally well on everyone, is it? And when it comes to clothing for sale, most of them have already experienced that not everything they try on will fit, even if the clothing size is actually correct, here too women may have to try out many models until they find an item of clothing that fits them well finds.

All of this may sound daunting at first, but in a way it is definitely an advantage. As soon as you realize that differences are normal, you can take the next step:

While when you buy clothes and are therefore dependent on the available range, you are much more likely to have to compromise or possibly have to search a long time to find something suitable, you have the big advantage of sewing yourself is that you can respond to your individual needs.


I think it starts with a benevolent, loving, appreciative, but honest and precise examination of your own body.

Perhaps you have also noticed that you always have similar fit problems, even with different cuts and labels. If the armholes pinch in almost all tops or if the waistband pushes up in all skirts, or, or, or ... then it is probably no longer coincidental and you can try to find out why.

Very important: no body is wrong! But every body is different, and only if you look closely and recognize and accept your special features, you have a good starting point for making pattern changes (the emphasis is on Sewing pattern-Changes, not the body needs to be "improved").

Incidentally, your weight does not matter - it is a great misconception that only fat women have to make adjustments! Even slim women have different bodies and proportions and also have to make adjustments, just maybe different.


For many, it is not that easy to recognize a cut that is not optimally fitting or even more difficult to find out what exactly it is that is not quite right about it. Incidentally, the look or opinion of another person can also help here; It is just very difficult to look at one's own reflection objectively.

A clear sign, I think, is a lack of comfort. It is not necessary that you wear clothes that pinch or pinch somewhere, that keep sliding up or down or that you have to pull "into shape" over and over again.

Furthermore, wrinkles (i.e. those that are not included in the design) are often an indication of the need for adjustment.

Creases usually indicate excess fabric: vertical creases indicate too much width, horizontal creases indicate too much length (ie when the fabric "builds up"). So-called "draw folds" (diagonal or horizontal folds), which often start from a certain part of the body (e.g. from the chest), indicate that the garment is too tight there or that it would have to be shaped more three-dimensionally by darts ...

Admittedly, it is not that easy to distinguish between wrinkles or to pinpoint their origin or starting point, here you have to learn to look closely, and it just takes practice. However, this is no reason not to even start ;-), because even small insights can have a big wow factor ...

A little digression: Another important point in my opinion is to realize that not every cut, not every type of piece of clothing suits every woman. Even if the garment fits itself or has been well adapted, it may just not be particularly "flattering" for one or the other. It has something to do with body shapes and proportions. There are different figure types and body silhouettes and certain cuts that better fit one or the other body shape or can help to create a balanced, harmonious silhouette. Even if personal taste can play a role here, it may be helpful to keep such "basic rules" in the back of your mind and to consider which body regions you would rather emphasize and which not. (If I look at / measure my body silhouette, for example, I can see that my shoulders are wider than my hips - that helped me to understand why, for example, tops with dropped shoulders or ruffles, puckered (puffed sleeves, for example) in the shoulder area are not so good for me standing; if, on the other hand, I wear a flared skirt or wide pants and thus optically emphasize my hips, a kind of "balance" is created - at least that is my personal sense of well-being.)


There are really, really many customization options, some easy to implement, some more difficult.

In a second blog article I collect a few common fit problems and change options and put together a list of links and literature tips.

You will also find detailed explanations of the most important customization options in my e-books for women's sewing patterns.


When something good enough is also a question of one's own standards and personal perfectionism.

You can also get into a kind of "adjustment frenzy" and suddenly see only wrinkles and flaws everywhere and are suddenly no longer satisfied with anything. On the other hand, an outside observer would probably not notice these "defects" at all.

There must also be compromises when it comes to individual adjustment, after all, the garment should be comfortable and suitable for everyday use and should be able to move with it. Complete freedom from wrinkles and one hundred percent perfection are not possible!


Admittedly, making pattern adjustments can be a challenge. The desired effect will not always occur immediately, and a quick success experience is not guaranteed. You have to be ready to invest time and material and nerves, possibly sewing several test pieces and picking up the seam ripper. (If you just try a new pattern every time in the hope that it will by chance fit without adjustments, it doesn't use less fabric or time ...)

On the other hand, adjustments offer a great opportunity to feel more comfortable and beautiful in your clothes. If you already "make the effort" to sew your things yourself, then take the opportunity to coordinate them for you.

There are many good books and instructions, and many changes can be implemented without great effort, even for amateur sewers and "laypeople".You can trust yourself!

A pattern is not sacrosanct, you can make it suitable for you or bring in your own ideas; think of it as a starting point with many possibilities rather than something fixed.

Perhaps you will start with small changes and first take a pattern that you are largely satisfied with. With small steps you can already achieve a lot. Slowly approach the topic and take the time to deal with the adjustments in peace.

Making a change is not a punishment - on the contrary, you are doing yourself something good and in the end you can give yourself items of clothing that fit your unique body much better!

-> Here you can find the 2nd part of this article.