Have you seen the new patterns in our shop? We are so proud to carry the menswear pattern line of Merchant & Mills in our shop. Their men’s patterns each offer something different from what we are already designing at Sleeves & Legs. Beautiful designs but unfortunately they only carry one height size: 1.78 m or 5 ft 8″.
Chances are that the man you’re sewing for is taller than 1.78 m! The average height of a young Dutch adult men is known to be 1.83 m but loads of guys I know are closer to 2 meters. But: No despair! This blogpost will teach you how to lengthen (or shorten if needed) any menswear pattern, including our own ones! As not every guy is 1.78 m, 1.88 m or 1.98m tall …..
Different body types
Let’s perform a little study of men’s body types. Ever looked at the proportions of their bodies? Some men have tall upper bodies and short legs and some are just the other way around: short upper body and legs that seem to fit no ordinary pair of jeans because they are tall! It is very possible that a rather tall man has a short upper body, or that a small man has a very long upper body. How to deal with such proportions?
Measure, measure, measure!
The way to determine whether a man has a long or short upper body is to take a tape-measure and measure his back length. Just strap a piece of elastic band around his waist and measure the space between the bump in his neck and the elastic waist band. Be sure to use an elastic waistband as this just wants to sit in his natural waist (narrowest part of his body) and this might be on a different place than most men think their waist is .Compare this figure with the back length in the pattern (usually the length between neck line and the waistline mark at the center back of the pattern) and voila: you know whether you need to lengthen or shorten your pattern!
What if your pattern does not have a waist line mark at the center back? Measure the length of the entire back piece from the neck line till the hem. And transfer this length to the back of the man you are sewing for. Is the length of the garment ok for his body type? Or do you need to adjust for extra length in the back?
Please remember that some pattern companies like Merchant & Miller add seam allowances to their patterns! You need to deduct these allowances from the length you measured of the pattern before you transfer it to the back of the person you’re sewing for!
Lengthen or shorten a pattern
Never make changes directly on the original pattern. Instead, trace the original pattern and make flat pattern changes to the duplicate. If you are happy with the fit after making the garment, permanent changes can always be made to the original pattern for future use.
- Trace the original pattern.
- Draw a line that is perpendicular to the grain line and parallel to the hem. This line should be placed relative tho where the lengthening needs to take place. If you are short from your neck to your waist, this line should be placed between these two points.
- Cut along this line.
- On a separate piece of pattern paper, draw to parallel lines that are the amount you would like to lengthen the garment. Draw a third line that is perpendicular to the previous lines. This will act as a continuation of your grain line.
- Align your slashed pattern pieces with your lengthening guide and grannie. Tape to secure. Blend jagged edges and trim.
- Trace the original pattern.
- Draw a line that is perpendicular to the grain line and parallel to the hem. This line should be placed relative tho where the lengthening needs to take place. If you are tall from your neck to your waist, this line should be placed between these two points.
- Draw a line above and parallel to this line. The distance between these two lines should be the amount you would like to shorten the pattern.
- Crease the line and fold it to your new line.
- Tape and blend jagged lines.
You can also use this method to shorten/lengthen sleeves. Sleeves should end where the wrist and hand meet, approx. 2,5 cm ( 1 “) below the wrist bone. Measure the sleeve length on the pattern and on your sewing model, compare and adjust accordingly.
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