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!).
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.
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”.
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.