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Altering sleeve

Fruzzle | Posted in Fitting on

Hiya there folks,

I was wondering if anyone has any advice on altering a sleeve. I have a pattern for a princess seam dress, but it’s specially designed to fit women 5’2″-5’3″. I’m 6’1″.

I’ve added some length at the waist (and I’m high waisted anyway), but where I really need more space is in the armscye. I added an inch to each piece at the shoulder seam (so two inches total), but I’m not sure how to go about adjusting the sleeve to compensate for the extra width.

Any tips would be much appreciated!


  1. mem | | #1

    mmmmm thats alot of difference to make up . I would measure the distance from the shoulder neck junc tion to the junction of the armhole and bodice side seam .You also need to measure the distance from the shoulder point to the bust point . Compare these to your pattern and then slash across the pattern and add in the required amount above and below the bust point. I dont think you could add it all in in one place . You will need to make two parallel additions . The you will need to cut you sleeve similarly across the sleeve  cap  and add in the same amount so that the sleeve will fit into the armscye. Use your notches on the sleeve and armscye to guide you as to where you make the additions.

    I think you will also need to add in between the waist and the hip line and then below the hip depending on the shaping of the skirt . The more shaping the more you will need to spread your addtions over the patterns length.Make it up in muslin first and the you can still add or subtract by slashing and then make up your final pattern .

    It must be a very niuce design!!!!

    1. Fruzzle | | #3

      Thanks for your reply, and to Pasdenom, too!

      It is a princess seam dress; and the reason that I have it in this size is mostly due to the fact that I'm a low-budget sewer -- I bought a bankers' box full of assorted patterns on ebay for $10, and I'm playing catch-as-catch-can with them (with pretty okay results so far).

      I think I'm going to start by trying to fit the dress in a muslin without sleeves, and go from there.

      Mem, you are suggesting spreading the sleeve at an angle perpendicular to the grainline (if the grainline goes up and down the length of the sleeve), right? The pattern-adjustment book I have to hand suggests pivoting at the top part of the sleeve (where the sleeve meets the shoulder seam), but I like your solution better, because I think if I did it according to the book, the sleeve would be far too wide.

      1. mem | | #4

        Yes but because then you are just adding to the height of the sleeve cap not the width of the whole sleeve . However I would try both in the muslin . You will learn a great deal from this box of patterns and the changes you will have to make

        1. Teaf | | #5

          I'll bet there are a lot of Gatherings participants who would pay big bucks for a dress pattern designed specifically for someone 5'2"!  Then, you could, as others have mentioned, get a pattern more to your scale.  Otherwise, by the time you've done all the alterations you'll need, you may as well make up a whole new pattern!

          Have you tried copying off ready-to-wear?  I use that method to fit my 6-foot-tall-but-thin daughter, using a fairly large size pattern as a basis (so there's plenty of tissue), then copying off clothes that fit her well.  All you need is a large flat surface, a lot of pins, and a pencil, plus some tape and extra tissue to add the extra 4-5 inches you'll need in length.

      2. Fruzzle | | #6

        Well, it turns out the alternation was unnecessary -- when I made up the muslin, it fit fine at the shoulders, but was too wide at the armpit. By the time I'd corrected for that, the sleeve fit fine.

        1. mem | | #7

          you know what they say about talking to yourself!!!!!!!!

          1. Fruzzle | | #8

            Heh; well, you'd both been so helpful, I didn't want to offend one by replying to the other!

            I made up the dress in a very nice knit fabric that I loved; unfortunately, something weird happened with the seams and it doesn't sit right. I think the top layer of fabric stretched more than the bottom as I guided it through the machine. It might be salvagable, though.

            I also made up a jacket, with a lining, using the same basic pattern but cropping it at the hip and adding a collar. And switching the closure from the back to the front, of course. It's the most ambitious project I've ever tackled (I got my machine only last Christmas, so I'm a newbie sewer compared to most of the folks around here!), and I'm very pleased with how it came out!

          2. mem | | #9

            do you mean that the lining stretched more or less than the fashion fabric or do you mean that the front and back moved on each other?If it is the latter you may need the differential feed on your serger, if it is the former you need to sew up the lining and fashion fabrics separately

  2. stitchmd | | #2

    What is there in this pattern that you especially want? Usually design features can be transferred to another, better fitting pattern. It just seems to make more sense to get a pattern designed for a body closer to yours and change details, than to try and redraft something so far off your fit. A princess style is probably the hardest to adjust.

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