how to shorten a pattern

This tutorial details how to shorten a pattern without making changes to the shape or width of a hemline. If you would like to simply "cut-off" a pattern (for example would like to make a dress pattern into a shirt pattern), this tutorial may be more appropriate.


Shortening a pattern is a very similar process to lengthening a pattern.

You will need a ruler, a pacer, a pair of scissors, some masking tape and some pattern paper.

I have used a standard set-in sleeve for this example, but this technique can be used to shorten any pattern.

shorten a pattern_1

Take your sleeve block and focus on the ELBOW LINE – this will become the “Lengthen and shorten line.”

shorten a pattern

Cut along ‘lengthen and shorten line” – separating pattern into two  pieces (upper sleeve and lower sleeve).

shorten a sleeve pattern

Decide how much length you would like to remove from the pattern and mark a point this far above the cut line on the upper sleeve. Draw a perpendicular line (perpendicular to grain) through the pattern from this point.

shorten a pattern

Move lower sleeve up so that the top edge of the pattern is laying on top of the perpendicular line. Fasten in place with masking tape.

shorten a pattern

Redraw the seams of your sleeve by drawing a straight line from the bicep line down to the wrist line.

Trace your pattern onto a separate piece of pattern paper and add seam allowance.

What next?