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Adjusments & altering the Sophia dress pattern - Length adjustments

So here you are, reading an alterations post for the Sophia dress. Maybe you've read the "importance of sampling" page in the pattern (if so, well done on making a sample before the final garment)! Or maybe, you haven't even started because you just know you're going to need those length adjustments. Well, regardless of the reason, this is the blog post for you!

When the Sophia dress was drafted, it was drafted for an average 5ft6, size UK 10 person. The pattern is available in mini and midi versions, but as we all have different heights and proportions, length adjustments need to be made in some cases. This doesn't mean just adding or removing length from the hem though. Although this sometimes can work, what about the arm length? What about if your height is more throughout your body? Or maybe you're petite and have a shorter torso but really long legs?

This blog post is dedicated to you guys, the ones that find they need some adjustments in length, regardless of where its needed.

To start, cut your pattern in your desired size. Make your toile (sample) in your desired size before making your final garment, try it on and then determine where you would like to make any length adjustments.


We'll start with the sleeve as it's the easiest to work with. In order to only adjust the length and not make any adjustments to the amount of shirring in the sleeve, you will need to draw a straight line horizontally through the sleeve, just above the "shirring line".

Cut through your pattern here, then move your top and bottom sleeve pieces away from each other by the desired amount to lengthen, or overlap the pieces to shorten. 

In the images below, the red line represents where I will be cutting through the pattern:

Once you have cut through the pattern at the red line, you will then move the top and bottom portions of the sleeve vertically away from each other, until you reach your desired length increase as shown in the image below:

After moving them apart to the amount required, place another piece of paper under the gap created and tape your pattern piece in place. Re-trace over your sleeve.

To shorten the sleeve, you will do the opposite. Move the top and bottom portions of the sleeve until they overlap by the desired amount you would like to shorten the sleeve. Now tape the pieces together and re-trace if desired.


When altering the length of the skirt, we will do the same as the sleeve, except this time we will need to be a little more careful where we place the red line, as we will be doing it across multiple pieces. 

When shortening or lengthening your skirt you will need to remember that whatever you add or takeaway from one piece, you will need to do on all the skirt pieces. Whether you would like to adjust the mini or midi length given in this pattern, you can place your line at the same place on either length pattern.

Start with your back skirt piece, lay it out in front of you with it cut to the size you will be making. Measure down 35cm (13.5") from the top of the skirt, this is where you will place your cut line. Do the same for all of your skirt pieces.

Now, we need to repeat what we did with the sleeve and move the top and bottom of each skirt piece apart vertically until we increase or decrease by our desired amount. When you do this, make sure to keep your pieces in line. Your centre front and centre back should always stay straight. (If it helps, you can draw a vertical line directly through the middle of the piece, just to ensure you are moving your pieces apart in a straight line).

In the image below you can see I have increased the space between my pieces. What I now need to do is tape some paper underneath and join the top and bottom skirt pieces with a smooth line (as shown in blue). 

Your pieces will likely not match up perfectly once you've moved them together or apart. This is why we create a smooth line to rejoin (shown in blue) rather than just joining the points of each piece together.

As before, to shorten you will do exactly the same as shown here for lengthening but in this case you will be moving the pieces vertically one on top of each other rather than away from each other.

Adjusting the height of the split:

This is quite a simple one to do. On your front centre and front side skirt pieces, you will notice a notch on the "joining edge" of each piece. To increase your split length, move this notch up as much as you would like. To reduce your split length, lower your notch as much as you would like.

To remove the split altogether, just completely ignore the notch! 


Moving swiftly on to the bodice adjustments! I will be doing a whole blog post dedicated to different adjustments in the bodice for this pattern, as this is a style of pattern that some people will find they need adjustments in the bust and bodice in order for the pattern to fit right. However, in this instance I am just going to show you a simple lengthening and shortening line.

As before, we are going to draw a line horizontally through the bodice. We will then move the pieces vertically away from each other to lengthen the bodice, or we will overlap the pieces to shorten.

Take your lower bodice panel and measure 3cm up along the side seam, from the waist. Then draw a line horizontally through the piece remembering that your line should be at a right angle to the centre front of this piece or at a right angle to your grainline. Cut along this line and then, move the top and bottom pieces away from each other or overlap the pieces until you have your desired length. (In the image below I have shown the drawn line and then below that, I have lengthened my bodice by moving the pieces away from each other).

With this adjustment, remember that you will also need to make the same adjustment to the back bodice. On your back bodice, you should also measure up 3cm from the waist along the side seam and start your line here. Remember when drawing your line, that it should be at a right angle to the centre back or the grain line of your back bodice.

With the back bodice you will be cutting through your dart at this point. That's ok, just remember to redraw your dart after. You will also need to smooth your lines out here once you have moved your pieces by the desired distance. When re drawing your dart, start at the top point and draw a straight line down from here to the point at the waist, then repeat for the other side of the dart.

With this alteration, you are only adjusting the distance between the bust and waist. To remove or lengthen the area above the bust, you will do the same process, but on the upper bodice pattern piece. To do this, measure down your side seam seam from the armhole point by 3cm (or 1"). Then draw your line horizontally across the bodice piece. Remember, this line should be cross grain to your grain line (the two lines should make a right angle).

Repeat the same steps as your lower bodice piece remembering to also repeat this alteration on your back bodice.

That's all your length adjustments done for now! If you have any questions or need any other length adjustments please drop me an email or leave a comment on this post and i'll do my best to help. For other adjustments to this pattern, type "Sophia" into the search bar at the top of the page and you will find all the posts dedicated to the Sophia dress.

Thanks for reading!