Friday, November 15, 2013

Sizing up a Pattern

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Do you have a favorite pattern that only goes up to size 8 (or even smaller:), but your tween still loves it and wants you to make more?  Fear not, it is still possible! You just have to get out your trusty tape measure and ask your tween to stand still for a couple of minutes and dust off some math skills.
The trick is getting some accurate measurements and then adjusting the pattern accordingly.

DISCLAIMER: I tend to use pretty basic patterns, so my experience is with those. I have not tried this on any pattern that is super detailed or intricate, so I'm not sure how this would translate over to that kind of pattern.

Measurements Needed
(You might as well get them all, while you have them standing still, but you might only need a couple of these depending on what you are sewing):
Chest--Take the tape measure all the way around just under the girls start to develop this measurement becomes more important to check regularly (each time before you start a new outfit is what I would do) and make note of the difference between the chest and the bust measurement. One other thing I do is break this down to front chest and back chest.
Neck to Waist (Torso)--Take the tape measure and start collar bone height (I know the collar bone is in the front, but imagine it was at the same level in the back) and go down to the waist
Waist--Take the tape measure all the way around just a little above the belly button, but below the rib cage
Arm Length--Take the tape measure from the top of the shoulder down to the wrist (adjust for shorter sleeves)
Arm Circumference--Take the tape measure all the way around the biggest part of the bicep
Hip--Measure all the way around the biggest part of the hips
Leg length--Measure from the waist down to ankle (adjust for shorts and skirts)
Inseam--Measure from the crotch down to the ankle (adjust for shorts and skirts)
Thigh circumference--Measure the biggest part of the thigh
Height--Always good to know total height as well as shoulders to ankle

My Example
Here is a small (size 2T) version of my favorite pattern (McCall's 3417--but it's out of print)
 And here is the same pattern made to fit my then 9 year old daughter.

Once you have all of the measurements you can change a pattern.  If there aren't too many differences or the changes aren't too complex, I just add them in as I'm cutting.  If this is something I want to have again or it's a little complicated, I trace out a new pattern piece.
First thing you need to do is compare measurements.  
For example, lets start with a bodice. This goes up to 4T, but the bottom between the triangles is gathered as well as the top part being a casing for elastic. That means it's not "true" to size when it comes to measurements, so just take that into account when you think about adding more. And not only do you need add more width, but height as well. And when it comes to the height, you just can't add it on to the bottom, because you have to take into account the arm hole cut there on the side. I just visualized cutting the pattern in half horizontally and added a couple of inches there as well as a couple on to the bottom.
With me so far?
Now the trick is when you alter one piece, you need to think how it is going to effect the other pieces. That armhole you just bigger on the bodice needs to match up to the armhole on the sleeve, which needs to correspond to the other side of the sleeve and consequently the back piece. I just use the bodice piece as a 'pattern to get the armhole cut, so that they match. 
And as for the sleeve, I make them a little wider, adding inches in the middle and longer, just adding inches to the bottom as well.
For the back piece I actually fold it in half when I cut it because it is symmetrical and that makes it easier to add inches. After I match the armhole cuts with the ones from the sleeve, I add the necessary inches on the fold in the middle. Then I add the length desired.
Finally, for the skirt piece that gets attached to the bodice, I again fold the pattern piece in half and add the inches on the fold of the fabric. Then I match the length taking into account the bodice + the skirt=the back piece. 

There you have it...a somewhat simple explanation of how to size up a pattern.
Pictures will be coming of the actual process.

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