pattern adjustments

The Collins Top Sew-Along : Lengthening the pattern


I have a feeling this post in the Collins Top sew-along might be of interest to quite a few of you! When I was designing the Collins Top, I really wanted a top that worked with high waisted trousers and skirts. I wear a lot of high waisted garments, and I know a lot of you do too. But if you don't, you may consider lengthening the Collins Top, to avoid flashing too much skin when you lift your arms (it's happened to all of us, right?) The pattern is drafted for height of 170cm (5'7"), with the front hem finishing close to the high hip (approximately in the position where mid-rise jeans would sit) - the back hem is lower (due to the hi-low hem design).

Lengthening a pattern is a really simple adjustment to make, but due to the panel lines of the Collins Top, it does make the process slightly (just slightly, I promise!) trickier.

There are times when you can just add some length to the hem of a pattern (when the side seams of a garment are quite straight, for example, a pencil skirt), but in the case of the Collins Top (and other patterns like it), you will be wanting to add the length to the inside of the pattern piece, so that you can keep the shape intact. If you were to just add length to the hem of this pattern, you would end up with quite a lot of volume in the hem, which is probably not ideal in a pattern that is already a trapezium shape. Due to the shape of the panels, I understand that this can seem a little daunting. But I promise, it really isn't!

Getting started

We'll start by making the adjustment to the front panels and then once that's done we'll move onto the back. To start, take the CENTRE FRONT PANEL piece and the SIDE FRONT PANEL piece. You can use the actual pattern pieces, or trace a copy if you would prefer to keep the original pieces intact.

Lengthen the pattern piece

You will notice that there is a 'Lengthen and shorten' line on each pattern piece. Take the pieces you are adding length to and cut through each of these lines - separating each piece into two. 

Take a blank piece of pattern paper (the amount you need will depend on how much length you are adding to your pattern) and mark a grainline on the left-hand side of the paper.

Now mark two horizontal lines, close to the bottom of the paper. You need to space the lines apart by the length you would like to add to the pattern. For example, if you would like to add 10cm (4in) to the pattern, space the lines 10cm (4in) apart, making sure they are parallel to each other, and perpendicular to the grainline.

Now, starting with the CENTRE FRONT PANEL pieces, line up the bottom section of the piece with the lower line, and the top section of the pattern with the upper line. Make sure the grainline (in this case the centre front) lines up with the grainline you marked on the pattern paper. Tape or glue pieces in place. 

Re-draw the seams

We now need to re-draw the panel lines to fill the gap that was created by adding length to the pattern. To do this, take a ruler and draw a straight line from the stitch line (marked by a grey line on each pattern piece) at the top of the pattern piece, to the stitch line at the hem. 

Do the same thing for the cutting line (draw a straight line from the top of the cutting line at the top of the pattern to the cutting line at the hem).

You will notice that with your new seam, the notches have become slightly displaced. Extend the original notches until they meet the new seam line. 

At this point you can either cut off the excess paper on the pattern piece, or trace the new lines to create a completely new pattern piece. 

Repeat for side panel

Repeat the process for the side panel. In this case, you will need to draw the grainline in the centre of the pattern paper. Make sure you add the same length to each piece. For example, if you added 10cm (4in) to the CENTRE FRONT PANEL, you will need to add 10cm (4in) to the SIDE PANEL. 

Re-draw the panels in the same way you did on the front piece. 

Move the notches so they are in line with the new seam lines. Cut out the piece or trace onto a separate piece of pattern paper. 

Check pattern pieces

Before going any further, check that the pattern pieces fit together properly and that the notches line up correctly. To do this, place one piece on top of the other, aligning the stitch lines as if you were sewing the pieces together (you will need to flip the SIDE FRONT PANEL so that it's right side down).

For more detail about how to go about checking that your patterns fit together nicely, you can check out this tutorial

Add length to the back panels


To add length to the back pieces, you will first need to tape the LOWER CENTRE BACK PANEL to the UPPER CENTRE BACK PANEL. This way you can make the adjustment and then re-cut the LOWER CENTRE BACK PANEL piece, so that everything remains in proportion (you don't want to add all the length to the UPPER CENTRE BACK PANEL as it would really change the design of the top). To do this, align the stitch lines of each piece, one on top of the other, and tape place.


Cut through the 'Lengthen / Shorten lines' on each piece, in the same way you did for the front pieces. Add length to each piece (the same amount you added to the front) and then re-draw each seam line. 

Re-draft back panel pieces

Measure the stitch line on the panel line. On the original pattern (before the adjustment), the panel line cuts the seam about three-fifths down the seam line, which means we need to find three-fifths of this new panel line. To do this, measure the line and then multiply it by 0.6 (three-fifths as a decimal). 

Measuring down from the top of the panel seam, mark a point three-fifths down from the top (the measurment you found in the prvious step).


Mark a horizontal line (perpendicular to the centre back) through the point marked in the previous step. 

This will be your new panel line. 

Before splitting the piece into two separate pieces, mark a double notch on the seam line. This means that when you separate them, you will have a marking for how they go back together. 

Cut through the new seam line - separating the pattern back into two pieces. 

Add seam allowance

Add 1.5cm (5/8in) seam allowance to each side of the cut line - moving the notches to meet the edge of the pattern. For more detail on adding seam allowance to a pattern, check out this tutorial.

You will notice that on the LOWER CENTRE BACK PANEL piece, the seam allowance doesn't follow the same angle as the panel line. This is so that when this seam is stitched and the seam pressed down towards the lower panel, the seam allowance will sit flush with the seam and not stick out. For more notes on this and a detailed explanation of how to use this technique yourself, you can take a look at this tutorial

Check back pattern pieces

Again, you will be wanting to check that the pieces fit nicely together and that the notches are in the right place. You may have realised that the middle notch on the SIDE BACK PANEL will no longer be in the correct position as we have added length to the LOWER BACK PANEL piece. 

A : Place the SIDE PANEL on to the BACK PANELS, lining up the stitch lines, one on top of the other. First, check that they are the same length. If they are not, have a look at this tutorial on checking and truing sewing patterns, for how to adjust the seam. 

B : Check that the notches are in line (and if they are not, move one set of notches so they are in the same position). Mark a new notch at the point where the horizontal seam in the back panels meets the BACK SIDE PANEL.

And the last thing you will want to do, is also check that the front and back side panels match correctly (do this in the same way you checked the pattern pieces above).

Lengthening the sleeves


If you would like to add length to the sleeves of the Collins Top, you can do it in exactly the same way as we did for the body pieces. Here you can see an example of this. 

I hope this helps and you are feeling less daunted about adding length to the Collins Top!

See all the posts in the Collins Top Sew-along.

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The Collins Top Sew-along : Re-drafting the facing (required after full bust adjustment)


Over the last couple of days I have shown you how to perform a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) on the Collins Top to start off the Collins Top sew-along. The process is a little different to what you might be used to, due to the fact that the top doesn't have a dart or bust shaping through a panel and it also has a panel line. You can find the tutorial here (this tutorial guides you through the process of creating a bust dart in the centre front panel). If you would like to know how to make the adjustment without the dart, then take a look at this tutorial (you will need to create the dart and then redistribute the fullness of the dart to the hemline). 

In today's post, I'd like to show you how to re-draft the front facing piece. By making changes to the centre front panel and the side front panel of the Collins Top, the original front facing will no longer fit the pattern. You will only need to do this if you are making View B of the Collins Top (the sleeveless version) and have made a Full Bust Adjustment.

Getting Started


To start, grab your CENTRE FRONT PANEL piece, SIDE FRONT PANEL piece, FRONT FACING and FRONT SHOULDER PANEL piece. These are the pieces you will need to create your new facing piece. 

Relocate the dart (temporarily)

If you have created a dart, we will first need to remove it (don't worry, we will put it back once we make the new facing piece), as where possible, it's best to not have darts in a facing (as it just creates unnecessary bulk). You could fold out the dart - like in this dart shaping tutorial - and then draft the piece, but it becomes quite awkward to do it that way as the centre front piece becomes three dimensional, which makes if really tricky to trace a new piece. The most accurate way to do it is to remove the dart, draft the facing and then put the dart back (don't worry it's less of a cumbersome process than what it sounds like). If you already removed the dart using yesterday's tutorial, then you can simply jump to the next step. 


A : Draw a vertical line (parallel to the centre front line) down from the apex point (the tip of the dart) down to the hem. Cut along this line, from the hemline, up to the apex point. Stop cutting when you are 1-2mm from the apex point. Now cut along the lower dart arm (the one highlighted in the illustration) towards the dart arm. Again, stop 1-2mm from the apex point, creating a small hinge. 

B : Close out the dart by carefully pivoting the lower corner of the pattern so that the lower dart arm overlaps the upper dart arm. Tape in place (I suggest using masking tape so it is easy to remove later on when we want to get our dart back).

If you would like further explanation on this process, check out yesterday's post, where I went into it in a bit more detail.


Take the SIDE FRONT PANEL piece and line the stitching line up with the stitching line on the CENTRE FRONT PANEL, as if the two pieces have been sewn together. Hold in place with a couple of small pieces of masking tape (or even pins). You are going to want to be able to detach these pieces later. 


Now, position the FRONT SHOULDER PANEL onto the CENTRE FRONT PANEL, again matching stitch lines as if the two pieces have been sewn together. Tape in place. 


Place the FRONT FACING piece on top of your panels, lining up the neckline, shoulder seam and centre front. You will notice that the front facing no longer matches the pieces it needs to (due to the full bust adjustment we made).


You can see that if we cut this piece we would be missing fabric at the side seam and under the arm. 

Re-draft the facing piece


Take a piece of pattern paper and trace off the original FRONT FACING piece in pencil (you are going to need to erase part of the line in a minute), being sure to trace the stitch line and the cutting line, as well as the notches. 


Place the traced FACING piece on top of your panels, again lining up the neckline, shoulder seam and centre front.


We will need to know the length of the side seam on the FACING so that when we make the new piece, it will have the same length side seam as the original, so that it still fits correctly with the back facing piece (that does not need any adjustments). Measure the side seam (on the stitch line) and take note of this measurement. 


Now, erase the lines that do not match the shape of the pattern underneath (the underarm and side seam), so that you can draw the correct shaping on the piece. 


To start, trace the side seam from the SIDE FRONT PANEL, making the line the length of the original facing side seam (found a moment ago).


Trace the armhole line as well as the side seam (both stitch line and cutting line) from the pattern underneath. 


Join the endpoint on the side seam with the bottom edge of the facing. You want it to be a nice and smooth curve. 


Transfer notches, cut out the pattern piece and add grainline and cutting instructions.

Go back to your CENTRE FRONT piece and remove the tape from the dart so you can put the dart back in place. 

And voila! You have a new facing piece that fit your adjusted panels. 

See all the posts in the Collins Top Sew-along.

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The Collins Top Sew-along : Full bust adjustment - removing the bust dart


In yesterday's post, I showed you how to do a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) on the Collins Top pattern to start off the Collins Top Sew-along. The process is a little different to a usual FBA because of the panel line in the front piece, as well as the lack of dart or bust shaping in the pattern. 

In yesterday's tutorial I showed you how to add a dart to the centre front panel of the Collins Top to get some extra width across the bust, if your bust measurement is larger than the B cup In the Folds patterns are drafted for. 

In today's post, I want to show you how to remove that dart, if you would prefer to keep the pattern dartless.

If you have done a little pattern making (or pattern adjusting) yourself though, you will know it is not as easy as just removing a dart. You cannot actually remove a dart, but you can relocate it or redistribute it. So basically, what we are going to do in the case of the Collins Top, is that we are going to relocate the dart to the hemline and then use it as extra fullness in the hem. I have done a tutorial on this process in the past, so if you would like to take a look you can have a look at this tutorial.

I know that the Collins already has quite a bit of ease in the hem (it is a trapeze shaped silhouette after all), so I will also show you how to remove the extra fullness later in the tutorial too. Please bear with me, it is quite a long tutorial, but the process isn't complicated. Just take it one step at a time.

Getting started


Step 1 :

Use the first Full Bust Adjustment tutorial to add a dart to your Collins Top. You will only need to follow steps 1 - 14 of the tutorial to get to where you need to be to follow this tutorial.  

Remove the dart


Step 2 :

To remove the dart, cut in from the side seam, along the lower dart arm towards the apex point. Stop cutting when you are 1-2mm from the apex point.


Step 3 :

Cut up from the hem of the top, along line 2, towards the apex point. Again, stop cutting 1-2mm from the apex point, to create a small hinge. 

Close the dart


Step 4 : 

A : Now, swing the side section of the pattern on the little hinge you created, so that the lower dart arm moves towards the upper dart arm. 

B : Continue swinging that section of the pattern around, until the lower dart arm meets the upper dart arm. Once the dart arms are aligned, tape in place. 


Step 5 :

As you will know, if you have made pattern adjustments before, there is really no such thing as removing a dart. By closing the dart in the side seam, you are opening up a "dart" at the hemline. You will see that indicated in the illustration above. By closing the dart in the side seam, we have made a large dart in the hem. 

Tape some pattern paper behind the working pattern to fill the gap created in the hemline.

You can choose to leave the top as is - now with the trapeze shape more pronounced or you can choose to remove this extra width from the side seam. If you have chosen to keep the extra fullness, continue working your way through the tutorial. 

If you would like to remove the extra fullness from the side seam, skip the following steps and jump to step 14.

Re-draw the panel line


Step 6 :

Measure the opening at the hemline (making sure you take the measurement on the stitch line (1cm / 3/8" up form the edge of the pattern) and take note of this measurement.


Step 7 :

We will distribute the added fullness to either side of the panel line, so you will need to mark a point on the hemline at the centre of the opening. 


Step 8 :

Draw a straight line from the point you just marked on the hemline, up to the point where the original panel line intersects the armhole. There you have your new panel line!

Mark balance points

Balance points are pointers on your pattern that help you put pieces together correctly, as well as help you when you are sewing a very long, or curved seam.

If you have sewn one of my patterns before, you will know I love a balance point! I really love using them as they basically give you a little reinforcement each time that you are assembling your garment correctly. I loved when one of my pattern testers once said "The notches are like little ticks you get all the way through the process to let you know that you're on the right track." That's exactly what I am going for with all the notches!


On the Collins Top, you will notice that there are two single notches on the centre front panel line, so that you know which side of the SIDE FRONT PANEL should be sewn to the CENTRE FRONT PANEL. During the process of the adjustments, we lost those two notches. So now it's time to put them back.


Step 9 :

Mark two notches on the panel line. It doesn't really matter where you put them, as these two pieces will be sewn together.

Trace your new pattern pieces


Step 10 :

Take a piece of pattern paper and trace your new CENTRE FRONT PANEL piece by tracing around the original neckline, and then down the new panel line. Trace along the centre front line and hemline. 

Add seam allowance + notches


Step 11 : 

Add seam allowance to your new pattern piece. You can trace the seam allowance from the neckline, armhole and hem and then add 1.5cm (5/8") to the panel line. For more detail on adding seam allowance to a pattern, check out this tutorial

Transfer the notches onto your new pattern piece, from the working pattern. 


Step 12 :

Finalise the pattern piece by adding cutting instructions and grainline.

For more detail about adding cutting instructions to your pattern, take a look at this tutorial.

Side front panel


Step 13 :

Repeat process for the SIDE FRONT PANEL. You will notice that you will need to redraw the side seam with a straight line. Draw the line from the top of the original seam line to the bottom of the original seam line. 

True the seam allowances on your new pattern pieces, and check the SIDE FRONT PANEL and the SIDE BACK PANEL still match together properly at the side seam. 

Add grainline and cutting instructions (SIDE FRONT PANEL - CUT 1 PAIR).

And you're ready to start sewing!

Remove fullness from the hem

If you would prefer to remove the extra fullness from the hemline of your Collins Top after your Full Bust Adjustment, then this part of the tutorial is for you!


Step 14 :

A : On the stitch line, measure the length of the opening at the hem. Take note of this measurement.

B : Measuring in from the side seam, mark a point the distance found in step A. For example, if the opening is 10cm, mark a point 10cm in from the side seam on the stitch line. 


Step 15 :

A : Re-draw the side seam by joining the top of the original side seam to the bottom with a straight line.

B : Now draw a straight line from the point marked on the hemline (in step 14B) to the point on the line you just marked, at the point where you closed out the dart. Extend the line a few centimetres (1" or so) beyond the intersection point. This line will become your new side seam. 

Note : If we simply drew a stright line between the top of the side seam and the new point on the hem, we would lose too much width across the bust from the side seam. 


Step 16 :

You will notice that the new side seam deviates from the original side seam a little bit at the top. We need to check how much has been added so we can add that same amount to the front sleeve piece. Take a ruler or tape measure and measure from the original side seam to the new side seam, on the stitch line. In the example, the new side seam is 1.9cm away from the original side seam at the underarm point. This means I need to add 1.9cm to the sleeve piece as well. 

To complete the front and side pattern pieces, draw in your panel line and then trace off the pieces. You can find out how to do this by scrolling back up to steps 6 - 13.

Making the adjustment to the sleeve piece. 


Step 17 :

A : Trace a copy of the FRONT SLEEVE pattern.

B : Draw a diagonal line down from the underarm point on the stitch line down to the hem. 

C : Cut down the line from the top towards the hem. Stop when you get 1-2mm from the stitch line at the hem. Cut up from the hem towards the point where you stopped cutting. Leave a 1-2mm hinge in place.

D : Swing open the pattern with the hinge, opening up the sleeve curve by the amount you need to add to the pattern (this is the same technique you learned earlier in this tutorial). For example, 1.9cm was added to my side front panel (step 16), so I will open up this piece by 1.9cm.


Step 19 :

Take some scraps of pattern paper and fill in the gaps on your pattern piece. Redraw the armhole curve (and seam allowance) and the hem line (and seam allowance). There you have it. Your sleeve piece will now fit into the armhole on your top. 

If you are making View B of the Collins Top (sleeveless version), tomorrow I'll be going through how to make adjustments to your front facing to fit with your newly adjusted bodice.

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Transferring pattern changes from toile to pattern


Last week I showed you how to make a toile, and what you should be looking for when fitting. In today's post, I will show you how to transfer changes from toile to pattern.

Lowering the neckline

The first change that I will show you is how to lower the neckline of The Rushcutter. I am all about the high neck on this dress, but I understand that it's not for everyone. If you'd prefer it to be slightly lower (or even drastically lower) it's not a difficult alteration to make. 

To start, take the sleeve pattern and the centre front panel pattern piece, and put them together. Place one sewing line over the other, so you can see how the pieces fit together when they are sewn. You will notice that on The Rushcutter sewing pattern, both the stitching line and the cutting line are marked, so that making pattern alterations is a little simpler. 

Work out how much you would like to lower the neckline by, by taking the measurement from your toile (measuring down the centre front) and mark it on your pattern piece. Make sure you measure it from the stitch line rather than the edge of the pattern. For the example, I only lowered the neckline at the front, but if you would also like to lower the neckline at the back, place a mark on your centre back too.

Before redrawing the neckline, you will need to fold the dart (so you can get the neckline all in one piece). The easiest way to do this is by placing the dart point on the corner of the table like this. The dart fullness should be folded towards the back.

Starting at the point you marked on the centre front, re-draw the neckline with a smooth curve, gradually easing back into the original neckline (unless you are also lowering the neckline at the back, in which case you will want your new neckline to meet with the point you marked on the centre back).

Before unfolding the dart, take a tracing wheel and trace over the new neck curve at the dart. This will transfer the correct neck shaping onto your dart. If you need some extra help with this, check out this tutorial. You will now just need to add seam allowance to the neckline and you are good to go!

Add or remove volume

The next thing I'm going to show you is how to use the cut and spread technique to add or remove volume from The Rushcutter. You may want to use this technique on the body of the dress, or maybe even the sleeve. 

If you have never used the method of cutting and spreading before, this example will basically show you how to do it. If you want to see it in more detail, check back on the blog later this week, as I am planning to do a post on this technique.

Pattern alterations are much easier to manage if your pattern does not have seam allowance. Remove the seam allowance from the pattern you are altering, or trace a copy of the pattern piece without seam allowance. This is really easy to do with The Rushcutter pattern as the stitch line is marked for you.

1. Draw two vertical lines through the pattern, which will cut the pattern into three equal-ish parts (this does not have to be exact).

2. Starting with one of the lines, cut up from the hemline towards the top of the pattern. Do not cut all the way through the pattern, leave a 1-2mm "hinge." The hinge will give you the freedom to move the parts of the pattern easily, but will still keep the pieces together. Repeat for the second line. 

3. Place the pattern on top of a piece of pattern paper, slightly larger than the pattern piece. Spread the pieces apart, by the desired amount, being careful to distribute the width evenly. When you are happy, tape (or glue) the pieces down carefully.

4. Redraw the hemline with a smooth curve. If the opposite edge has changed shape too drastically you should also re-draw the line.


The method is the same for reducing volume, you just need to close the cut and spread line, rather than open it.

Shortening pattern

There are two ways of shortening a pattern - the first is to simply remove some length from the hem of the pattern. This method is often used when a garment has been made up and then once it can be tried on and fitted, the length is determined.

The other method is to shorten the pattern piece by removing the length from inside the pattern piece. By using this method, the overall shape of the pattern piece will not be lost.

For this method, you first need to find the 'length and shorten line,' on the pattern piece you would like to shorten. I am using the sleeve from The Rushcutter as an example, but this method can be used on any of the pattern pieces.

Cut along the line to create two separate pieces.

Think about how much length you would like to remove from your pattern piece. Mark this distance on one side of the pattern, measuring from the cut line. Marking this point on the grainline will help ensure the mark remains perpendicular to the cut line. 

Draw a perpendicular line through this point, extending to either side of the pattern piece. 

Move the unmarked pattern piece (in this case, the lower part of the sleeve) to line up with the perpendicular line just drawn, and tape (or glue) in place. 


You can now redraw the seam lines on each side of your pattern with a straight line (or a curve, if your pattern piece has curved seams).

Lengthening a pattern

For lengthening a pattern piece, the concept is exactly the same. Cut up through the 'lengthen and shorten line' and separate the pattern into two pieces.

Open the pattern pieces by the amount you want to lengthen your pattern piece by. Tape a piece of pattern paper onto the back ofthe pieces to fill the gap.

Redraw the side seams with a straight line, and you are done!

I think that's enough pattern altering for today's post, in the next post I'll show you how to slim down the dress by removing some width from the side panel, move the dart on the raglan sleeve (View A), move the shoulder seam (View B) and adjust the pocket.

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