Petite and Tall Pattern Adjustment Tips

So… I’m tall… I mean… I’m TALLLLL 🙂

5’10” no shoes ha ha ha See me towering over my tiny mom?


It makes finding RTW clothes a CHALLENGE to say the least… yes, I can pay an arm and a leg for “talls” but I want young trendy clothes!! So making my wardrobe is so rewarding for me!

So here are some tips for adding, or taking away length to a pattern for an adult… I’ve already posted how I like to do it for children here. But this method doesn’t work well for adult patterns, because all the sizes are made to fit an average height adult– for women most patterns are 5’6″… The “rule of thumb” is to add/take away 1/2″ for every 1″ that you are “off” the avg height drafted for.

So here we go!

Just like children’s patterns I DO NOT recommend only adding to the bottom hemline… it will make the overall garment longer… but it will not give you a great fit. If you are shorter or taller you need to add/take away length throughout the whole pattern!

This is my newest pattern the Pumpkin Spice Dolman as an example.

This is my pattern piece all taped together normally.


Knit patterns are much more forgiving in fit… with that being said, the four places I recommend adjusting are: at the shoulder/armscye… just under the bust line… and just under the waistline… and at the bottom hemline

Adding throughout the pattern helps keep the bust, waist and hip where they actually hit you 🙂

Now this is my pattern piece ready to be adjusted—my patterns are no trim pages, so I can simply not over lap as much to add length—for petit you would overlap more to take length away.  I have made myself enough clothing to know how much I need to add to MOST patterns designed for average height– I add about 2 1/8″ to every shirt I make myself… 2 5/8″ to tunics…I even know how much I like in each spot– shoulders a scant 1/8-1/4″, chest and wasit area 3/4-1″, and bottom hem 1/2-1″.


Here are two pictures showing how you can achieve this:

IMG_6877 IMG_6878

The shoulder/armsyce can be done a couple ways– I like to take a smaller seam allowance there to add some length…   You can also splice your pattern straight across where the armsyce is and spread your pattern… I only add about 1/8-1/4″ to mine, but that tiny difference makes SUCH A HUGE difference in how a shirt fits me!

For the chest and waist you can only do with overlap patterns like mine, I simply untapped it, and moved them down, adding what I needed, and retaped that section.

Or you can (with any pattern)… splice it straight across and measure what you’d like to add.

Shortening is the same method, you would just be overlapping instead of adding.

Now all you need to do it cut out and “true up” the sides… since you’re adding or taking away length the sides will not line up perfectly… you will just match them up and straighten them out with your new length.

Repeat process for the other pattern pieces 🙂

Ta-Da!!!! Now you have a shirt that will FIT you! ALL over! 🙂 I could never find this at the store that would actually cover my booty!

IMG_3420 IMG_3434 IMG_3476

This hasn’t been the cutest blog post, BUT I hope it helps you fit your body shape better, so you can enjoy making yourself some great fitting clothes!! 🙂

16 thoughts on “Petite and Tall Pattern Adjustment Tips

  1. Thanks Judy!! I’m in the ‘normal’ 5’6″…but I don’t fit the clothes so this is a huge help. Can’t wait to have sewn enough to know intuitively where I need to adjust.

    • You know, I still flat measure a new pattern every time! Just to make sure it will be long enough adding my “normal”…nothing is worse then getting finished and it being too short!!!

  2. Thank you, thank you! I’ve sewn “onion skin” patterns for myself with success. I have several PDF patterns for myself but after a few botched attempts at making a different designers garments I gave up sewing for myself. Mostly sewing for my littles. Now I can attempt PDF patterns for me again!

  3. Hey, thanks do much for this post! I am also 5 10! Plus I have DD boobs so needless to say, I feel your pain! How would you recommend adding to the length of a sleeve? Just at the hem or throughout like you do the shirt? Thank you!

  4. So excited to find this info. I am 5′ 11″, so just like you store bought are very hard to find that fit. Plus the extra tummy weight from kids isn’t helping! 🙂 Beginner with sewing for myself, so hopefully I can do this!!

    • I use the same method, adding throughout the pant! I prefer a lower rise, so I don’t always add there…but it’s simple to measure your inseam VS the pattern’s inseam and see how much to add. Then you’ll want to split it up through thigh, knee, calf 🙂 I hope that helps!

  5. This was super helpful! I’m 5’9″ and purchased a peplum pattern in petite by accident – Oops! How much would you add in each place ? I’m guessing more than what you’ve listed. Any help is appreciated! 🙂

  6. So……if I wanted to add to leggings for example, I only need to add at the waist and hem at the bottom? I’m 5″11′.

    • I wish I would have scrolled down more yesterday to see your reply. I’ve made the peg legs pattern and totally messed them up for me. I only added to the length. The pant doesn’t fit my thighs or come up high enough to sit on my waist.

  7. I am 5’3″ and I am planning to make the FST in dress length but I would like for the dress to come below my knee, possibly 2″ below, where would you suggest I add the length to? In the past I would just add to the bottom however it would tend to make the dress wider than I would have preferred.

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