Posted on 11 Comments

Lengthen or Shorten a Sewing Pattern Tutorial

How to Lengthen or Shorten a Sewing Pattern

This is just about the easiest pattern alteration to do!

You’ve probably noticed, many patterns have horizontal length adjustment lines marked on them to show where to alter the length. I don’t do that on my patterns, I prefer a cleaner look. It’s so easy to get in a muddle with too many lines everywhere and so simple to mark any length adjustments only if you need them. This straight forward tutorial will show you how simple it is to lengthen or shorten a sewing pattern, to help achieve a great fit.


Your pattern (or copy of your pattern if you don’t want to alter your original)






Things to be aware of:

  • If you are doing lots of alterations to your pattern, do any length adjustments first.
  • Keep the grainline or “place to fold line” IN A STRAIGHT LINE, do not allow them to stagger.
  • The Chain Effect: when altering one pattern piece, also alter the corresponding pattern piece in the same way and remember to check they still fit together after your alteration. It is very annoying to end up with the front skirt longer than your back skirt!


HOW TO LENGTHEN OR SHORTEN A SEWING PATTERN TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS-01Once you’ve made a toile, you’ll know how much and where you need to add or subtract length to your garment. You can just change the bodice length, or a skirt length or the sleeve, or all 3!

Draw an adjustment line horizontally across your pattern at a right angle to the grainline or to the “place to a fold line”

On a bodice: mark the line above the waist line but below a bust dart, and straight through any waist darts.

On a skirt (or skirt portion of a dress) below the hip line, but avoid any pocket details – no point making life complicated!

On a sleeve: half way along the underarm seam, unless it’s a fitted sleeve or has an elbow dart, then divide between two lines. (See “Good to Know” at the end)

Step 2:


HOW TO LENGTHEN OR SHORTEN A SEWING PATTERN TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS-02Cut along the adjustment lines and separate the pattern piece.

Place a piece of paper behind your pattern and tape the top portion of your pattern to it.

Extend the grain line. Draw a line parallel to the your adjustment line the amount you need to lengthen the pattern by. Tape the lower portion of your pattern to the new line, matching up the grainline. Re-draw the seam lines so that they match up again, these may need to be curved or may be straight depending on your pattern piece. It’s quite usual to need to blend the new lines together, adding a bit to one and taking a bit off the other.



Place a piece of paper behind your pattern and tape the top portion of your pattern to it. On your pattern, draw a line parallel to the adjustment line the amount the pattern is to be shortened. Overlapping your pattern pieces, tape the lower portion of the pattern to the new line, matching up the grainlines. Re-draw the the seam lines so they match up again, in the same way as lengthening a pattern.


Check your pattern pieces still fit together before cutting out your garment. Toile again if you need to!

Good to Know:

The Maria Wrap Apron: lengthen the straps



This is a great method to use if you need to alter the length of the straps of The Maria Wrap Apron too. Be sure to keep the grainline aligned as before, but you can just chop through the strap, spread the pattern the required amount and re-draw the edges with a straight line – all without changing the length of the angled edge that attaches to your apron! You will need to do exactly the same alteration to both the TOP and UNDER straps.

If you are lengthening or shortening a larger amount, you can spread the amount between two lines.

HOW TO LENGTHEN OR SHORTEN A SEWING PATTERN TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS-05On a bodice, for example, take the amount needed to lengthen and place half above the bust dart, and half below the dart, this will of course lower the bust dart a little, so be sure you want it lower!

On a skirt, especially a maxi skirt style, half could go through the skirt in two places, this will lengthen the skirt and keep the hem circumference the same as the original. Alternatively, use one adjustment line and extra length could be added straight to the bottom of the hem, but the hem circumference will get bigger.

For a fitted sleeve: Spread the amount between two lines one above and one below the elbow/elbow dart.

Now, do I always use this method for changing the length of every pattern? ( I’m 5’2″ so it’s always shorten, shorten, shorten)

HOW TO LENGTHEN OR SHORTEN A SEWING PATTERN TUTORIAL_MAVEN PATTERNS-04NOPE, I don’t! If it’s only a little bit, or a boxy shape I’ll just chop it off/add the extra on to the bottom of the pattern. That works just fine too in some cases.

I do hope you’ve found this tutorial useful, and can now confidently lengthen or shorten a sewing pattern.

Happy Sewing!


Posted on

In-seam pocket Tutorial

Hi there!

Another little tutorial, this time for an in-seam pocket tutorial, to sit along-side the new soon-to-be-released (*whispers* I’ve been saying that for a while…) French Dart Shift sewing pattern (will also come in handy for future Maven Pattern releases!) Because you know what? I DO LOVE a side seam pocket, I find it very annoying not having somewhere to shove my hands!

MAVEN PATTERNS_THE FRENCH DART SHIFT The French Dart Shift is a tunic style dress PDF sewing pattern that has In-seam (side seam) pockets that are concealed and it took me a little while experimenting and researching to get a technique I was really happy with.


So, here’s the thing… you may look at the pocket bags on this pattern and think…Mrs M, really what the ???? I’ll admit they may look a little unusual, with the curvy bit added, but I do have a very good reason: I feel this method gives a much better result.

My problem with the usual way of making pockets that sit at the side seam is you can’t overlock around the pocket bag in one easy motion, so you need to overlock everything separately or end up having to pull the seam ‘straight’ to catch all of it in the awkward little angle created, which is a pain and eventually, as I’ve been finding, the overlocking just pulls away in the wash leaving a raw fraying edge exposed. Mmmm…messy.

And the other problem, with some methods, was sometimes having to snip into the seam allowance to get them to lie flat in the direction you want. It’s a pet hate, I don’t like doing ‘the snipping’ unless I REALLY have too because it makes a weak point on your seam.

So what I wanted was a pocket bag I could overlock everything easily and together so it is stronger, and NO snipping into the seam. Oh, and so the pocket bag is set back a little from the side seam so shows less when being worn. And I wanted to press the side seam open. I thought I was really easy-going until I started writing sewing instructions 😉

NOW, if you want to make your pocket bags the traditional way, without the curvy bit, just chop off the extra on your pattern piece and carry on with your usual method, the whole point of making and sewing is to enjoy the process and what works for me may not work for you. But this is my method and I like it!


Firstly cut out your garment, make sure you cut 2 PAIRS of pocket bags (so you have 4 bags in total). Transfer the marker dot positions to your garment (chalk, tailor tacks – whatever works for you. I’ve used neon orange pen so it would show in the photos – I don’t recommend it!)  Fuse the strip of interfacing to the pocket mouth on the FRONT body.



Place the pocket bags to the front and back garment, with right sides of the fabric facing each other, and so the notches on the pocket bags line up with the side seam notches and stitch together with a 6mm seam allowance. Overlock (or neaten with your usual method) the raw edge of the pocket bag and garment together, starting and finishing about 3cm either side of pocket bag – (shown in green thread).


On the back seam – rather than starting the overlocking just above the pocket bag – start at the underarm and overlock the entire seam right down to the hem.  It’ll save you having to go back and overlocking the rest of that seam later. Which means you’ll have 1 less process to do and save at least 30 seconds – you’re welcome! 🙂



Press the pocket bags AWAY from the garment and understitch on the front pocket bags.



SIDE SEAM: Pin with right sides of fabric facing each other, line up the marker dots on the front body with the corresponding one on the back body. Take a 1cm seam allowance, start at the underarm and stitch down to the first marker dot, PIVOT * and stitch from the dot across the pocket bag until you are back at a 1cm seam allowance on the pocket bag. (The stitch line is marked on the pattern piece, so you could transfer the line across with chalk and a ruler if you wanted). Carry on around the pocket bag, and stitch TO the next marker dot, PIVOT again and continue down to the hem.

It’s a good idea to reinforce each of the corners at the pivot point as in-seam pockets can take quite a lot of stress. Set your machine to a smaller stitch length and just stitch a second machine row DIRECTLY ON TOP of your first row of stitching about 3cm either side of each marker dot. Don’t forget to put your stitch length back to your normal setting!

 *TO PIVOT: stitch to the marker dot, leave your machine needle IN your garment, lift your machine foot and turn your work in the direction you want to stitch, drop your foot back down and continue to stitch – makes a nice tidy corner!



Press the pocket bags towards the front body. Press the side seams OPEN above and below the pocket bag, as far as you can. Overlock the front side seam first, all the way around the pocket bag – it’s easier because of the curved shape!!!

THIS STEP IS THE ORIGINAL METHOD: (you can skip this step if you are following the updated method!) On the back side seam: overlock (shown in pink) from the underarm down to the pocket bag and overlap the new overlocking (pink thread) over the original overlocking (green thread), so there are no raw edges. Restart the overlocking below the pocket bag, again being sure to overlap as before, so the entire seam is neatened.

And from the right side…


Ta Da!

‘Tis a thing of beauty!

Posted on 4 Comments


Bias binding is such a useful technique and it’s not difficult to master, like everything a little practise makes perfect. Bias binding is a great way to finish the raw edge of a garment. It is hugely versatile and can be used on necklines, armholes, hems, pretty much anywhere really. You can buy ready made binding from your local haberdashery shop or make your own and use up some of those scraps!

There are really two types of binding for our purposes:

DOUBLE BIAS BINDING is on show from the right side of the garment and can be decorative if made in a contrasting fabric.

SINGLE BIAS BINDING: It can be used in lieu of a facing on an armhole or neckline, and apart from a row of topstitching, only be seen on the inside.

In this tutorial I’ll show you how to attach your binding, if you want to know how to cut, join, press and sew bias binding, go check out my BIG BIAS BINDING TUTORIAL.


Double bias binding is used when you want to see it on the right side of a garment, so it is both decorative and practical. YAY, One of my favourite combo’s!

Maven Patterns Bias binding tutorial 01

Take your prepared binding and pin RIGHT side of binding to the RIGHT side of garment aligning the raw edges together. Machine stitch along the fold.

TIP: if you are binding a thicker fabric or a few layers of fabric, take a smaller seam allowance so you have extra binding where you need it to help accommodate that extra bulkiness.

Maven Patterns Bias binding tutorial 02

Press binding AWAY from the garment.

Maven Patterns Bias binding tutorial 03

Wrap binding over to the raw edge to WRONG side of garment, and position the folded edge of binding so your machine stitching is covered by a few millimetres. Pin to hold. Tack right on the edge of the binding to hold into place – ensure you catch all the binding on the reverse side and just cover the machine stitch while keeping an even distance away from the binding on the front. Take your time to get this right now, the tack line will be a guide to your topstitching!

Maven Patterns Bias binding tutorial 04



Maven Patterns Bias binding tutorial 07

Maven Patterns Bias binding tutorial 06

Top stitch the binding to finish: with the right side of your garment facing you, edge stitch the binding and as long as you stitch to the inside of your tacking stitch and you know you’ve caught the back of the binding!

OPTION 2: If you don’t want your stitching to show on your binding try this method…

Finish your binding by Stitching in the Ditch (also known as sink stitch).

‘Stitch in the Ditch’ is a really useful technique to know, good for finishing waistbands as well as bindings. When stitched in the same colour as your main fabric the stitch line practically disappears as it settles into the seam.

Maven Patterns Bias binding tutorial 11

Position your machine needle in line with the groove (the ditch) of the seam, you are going to stitch right in that ditch, NEXT to the binding but not on it. And as long as you stitch to the inside of your tacking thread, you know you’ve caught your binding on the back 🙂Maven Patterns Bias binding tutorial 012

Just remove your tacking thread, and you’re done!


Single bias binding is used to finish a raw edge without it showing to the front of your garment, a great choice if you want a fuss free finish without a facing.

This isn’t everybody’s method, but this is the method I was taught by a sample machinist I worked with about 20 years ago, she called it the Cheat Method. I liked the method because it was quick and that binding NEVER frayed no matter how much I washed those garments (baby and kids clothes), must have been the combination of a folded edge and the extra understitching – great for linen fabrics.  I’ve used this many times over the years instead of a having a flappy facing. The only drawback is some fabrics are just too bulky, but just bind anything too thick with a contrasting fabric and make a feature of the inside!


PRESS: Fold your binding in half and press.

Version 2

ATTACH: Line up the raw edges of your binding with the raw edge of your garment, with right sides together.


Stitch with a 6mm seam allowance to attach.DSC_0335Press binding and seam allowances away from garment. Understitch (machine stitch an edge stitch through all the layers on the binding close to the seam.) The understitching is an optional step, there won’t be a disaster without it, but it does make the binding roll to the wrong side better and I think it makes the binding stronger.

Version 2

Tack along the edge of the binding to hold in place, this will also give you a guide line for your next row of stitching.


Flip your garment over and topstitch with the right side up. If you stitch inside your tacking line so you know that you will catch all the binding!

(You can make narrower binding if you prefer…simple bit of maths… finished width of binding + seam allowance, x 2 = cutting width of binding.)

And that, ladies, is how to sew bias binding!

Posted on 6 Comments

The Maria Wrap Apron UPDATE

The Maria Wrap Apron - PDF Sewing Pattern

The Maria Wrap Apron Update

Maven Patterns The Maria Wrap Apron

I’ve done a little re-vamp on the maker instructions for The Maria Wrap Apron.

I’ve added some hyperlinks – Wahoo! – so now if you are viewing your instructions on a screen you can get a direct link to the relevant tutorial if you need it.

I know a lot of you view your instructions on iPads or laptops while sewing up a storm, so hyperlinks can be really useful. Personally, I have to print everything as the computer/office bit/corner of the kitchen is downstairs and sewing studio is upstairs. Obviously, hyperlinks won’t work if you print your instructions as I have too… I’m good but I’m not that good 😉 I’ve also added some pretty colours, because Hey! pretty colours…well, why the hell not?

So just for clarity: there are NO CHANGES TO THE ACTUAL PATTERN OR HOW TO MAKE THE APRON, I’ve just added a few little pretties so the maker instructions have the same features that are already on The Wendy Smock instructions.

If you have already bought The Maria Wrap Apron PDF sewing pattern and would like an updated Maker Instruction file, send me an ETSY convo and I am very happy to email you one – for FREE!

What other features do you like to see in your patterns and maker instructions?

Lots of detail and explanation?

Or do you do the same as my friend Maria (the inspiration for The Maria Wrap Apron) She may (maybe) give the maker instructions a fleeting, cursory glance before completely ignoring them and doing her own thing, only going back to the instructions if necessary.  I’m with Maria (it’s why we’re friends, that and we bonded over how much we hated cooking the small people’s tea after school – it cut into valuable making time – true story. Beer and curry is also part of that story, but I’ll spare you that part…). I’m just firmly of the opinion there is more than one correct way to stitch anything, and you learn from each mistake. So ignore away if that works for you, or read every word and ask all the questions you like – it’s all good ladies!