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How to Make A Pattern Petite: Part 3


 Back today is Betsy from Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick Patterns, a company that caters to petite and petite plus size sewers who are looking for modern alternatives for a younger demographic. In part 1 of her series, Betsy spoke about the two theories of making a “regular” pattern into a petite pattern and today, she’s going to show you just how to do it! After her demo, be sure to check out her site – she just released her first t-shirt pattern as a free download, the Tonic Tee Shirt.

Pattern alterations are a way of life if you are a petite. Skirts are no problem but tops and the bodices of dresses require careful consideration to proportionally reduce for a petite body. Chopping off excess length is just a Band-Aid as you are still left with necklines and armholes that are too low and waist seams that hit at a strange place. To remedy the situation, get your scissors and tape and prepare to slice and dice your pattern (make yourself a copy before you start in case of errors!).

Petite Bodice alterations-01

Length Reductions
The amount you need to reduce can vary based on your own proportions, but the sketch above shows a typical petite bodice length alteration by reducing the length 1” total. To determine what is right for you, compare your measurements to finished garment measurements.

Figure A represents ¼” reduction. This will reduce the armhole length ¼”, but most importantly, raise the neckline ¼”. The neckline depth is a detail, but can make a petite torso appear shorter if it is too low.

Figure B– This reduction is intended to eliminate the extra long armholes by removing ½”. By also factoring in the neckline reduction your armhole is now ¾” shorter.

Figure C- Darts that are too long are never flattering. Remove the last ¼” to shorten the bodice waist darts and complete the length alteration of 1” total.

* The same modification is then applied to the back bodice.

Petite Bodice alterations-02

Width Reductions
If you are a petite with an overall smaller body frame you will need to reduce the body width. Measure yourself and compare to the pattern measurements. Your width reduction is specific to you so for demonstration purposes the illustration is based on a 1” reduction in total circumference.

Figure D– Remove 1/8” to reduce 3 areas at once: the armholes become shorter/shallower, the chest is reduced, and the dart is shortened.

Figure E– Close the center ¼” to move the dart apex points closer to the center, reduce the chest width and the neck width. (The neckline will become slightly distorted so make sure you smooth out the curve.)

This brings the total front bodice width reduction to ½”. When the same is applied to the back, the total becomes 1”.

Petite Bodice alterations-03

No two patternmakers will alter a pattern the same way. There are many ways to achieve the desired results, but there are no fixed methods. The best practice is to collect information that makes sense and apply what works for you.


  1. Reply

    Elena Knits

    Hi Maddy, just to let you know that the link for Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick Patterns is broken. The right one is

    And thank you for this wonderful tutorial!

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      No matter how many times I proofread, something always slips my eye. Thanks for letting me know – I updated the link.

  2. Reply

    Craft Sanctuary

    I am loving this series, and will definitely be trying out some of her patterns soon! Thanks ladies!

  3. Reply

    Natasha Estrada

    I’ve always done my length alterations that way. Don’t bother with the width because I still need that. Also sometimes I’ll remove more on the sleeve than on the armhole on a commercial pattern to get rid of some of that pesky ease.

    • Reply

      Maddie Flanigan

      Good tip! But who am I kidding – you always have good tips.

      • Reply

        Natasha Estrada

        Ha. I should show you a pic of how I used to do it. Pin the sleeve so it fits then chop the excess off.

  4. Reply

    Shelley Pleger

    Question – When shortening the sleeve to match the armhole, is it also done in two places to correspond with the armhole shorten lines?
    One looks like it’d be about 1.5 in from the top of the cap and the other at the break point where it turns to scye.
    Just curious because I’ve never shortened a sleeve cap in two before and am wondering if the curves would better match if I did.

    • Reply


      Hi Shelley- you can reduce the sleeve cap in the same positions, but it does not have to be spot on. It can be in the general vicinity. The main point is that the cap length fits into the armhole. When you reduce the sleeve, check that the cap does not become too narrow as this will restrict movement. You may have to add back a little width to the sleeve cap sides, but not too much that you added more length than needed. It is a careful dance between armhole and sleeve cap measurement comparisons, but definitely achievable.

  5. Reply


    This last part of the series was quite useful, but I still have yet to see anyone cover information on how to petite-fy a sleeve or crotch. Will there maybe someday be a part 4?

    • Reply


      Great suggestion and I’ll keep it on mind for the future. No additional petite tutorials are planned at the moment.

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