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Please help!

gogojojo | Posted in Fitting on

Hi all,

When my daughter was a freshman, I bought her choir dress (for $100!)i n a size 2.  Now, two years later, she is no longer a size 2….more like a 4 or 6.  They are still using these dresses for their performances, and we can’t even zipper it at this point.  The dresses were made by a contractor who is now out of business.  So…I would like to try to duplicate it in a larger size.

I have a pretty good handle on how to copy an existing garment, but not in a larger size.  How do you allow for larger sizes once the pattern pieces are drawn?  Is there a formula?  It’s really frustrating, because I can’t even pay someone to do it.  All the alterationists in town are too busy for this type of project.  Thanks in advance!

p.s. (I’ve searched the message boards and have found much advice regarding copying ready to wear, but none pertinent to re-sizing)


  1. cree9 | | #1

    I have used similar pattern in larger size and altered the pattern so that it matches the garment I am copying - also you can try making a pattern from existing garment and enlarging it in specific places for room - increasing mid-front and mid-back measurements to give extra room usually works for me but I am not fanatical about things.

    1. gogojojo | | #2

      Thanks for the advice.  I will try to find a pattern similar, although it seems like  a unique design.  As far as putting a gusset in, it seems like it would be easier just to make a new one from scratch, because it is fully lined, and has boning, etc.   It's a two piece dress, and really the only part I have to duplicate is the top.  The bodice has six panels and zippers in the back.  I've found a pretty good match for the fabric, so I thnk i can re-use the sleeves and sash in the front.

      1. wlric | | #3

        You may have already considered this, but have you checked the seam allowances to see if it can just be let out to make it larger? Sometimes you can expand a top by several inches if it has that many seams.
        If that is not an option, measure how much larger the new top will need to be. 3 inches? Then divide that number by the number of seams (6?). That should give you one-half of an inch. Add half of that number (one-quarter of an inch) to each side of each panel. That should give you the additional width needed around the body.
        Also, consider making the top longer to allow enough fabric to cover the larger bust size, both above and below the bust, if necessary. If the bust is much larger, add a tiny bit more width to the princess seams in the front as well.
        Making a muslin will help you with the fitting adjustments.
        (If my math is off, someone will pitch in here to help you out.)

        1. gogojojo | | #4

          Yes, I had considered letting out the seam allowances, which would've been great because there are 6 of them, but they have been trimmed to about 1/4 inch.  As for making it longer as you suggest, that is way out of my skill range.  But, it turns out the basic design isn't so unique after all, and i was able to find a McCalls pattern that came pretty close.  So my drama queen moment was short-lived, fortunately.  Thank you for your advice!

          1. wlric | | #6

            Sounds like you are well on your way.
            If you have the time, compare the pattern pieces to your existing top. You will see where the changes occur.
            Thanks for the original photo. I hope you will show us your finished product.

  2. Alice in Atlanta | | #5

    It's not so complicated, bear with me while I explain.  People buy patterns from the picture on the front.  Many of them are really exactly like what they already have with the exception of perhaps a collar or trim.  Forget the front!  Look at the back where the pattern is plain.  If you think about it, there are only a few patterns with only variations of the theme.  Designers merely change a sleeve, collar, openings and fabrics. 

    I'll bet you will find a basic pattern close enough to that dress and you'll be able to make it yourself...once you figure out what size you need.  Hope this makes sense.

  3. HeartFire2 | | #7

    Hi, Yes, there is a formula for enlarging patterns, but its not a simple thing. Its called "grading", When patterns are drafted, they are drafted in one size and then graded up and down for the different sizes,]. If you look at the multi sized commercial patterns you will see how its done, circumference is given a certain amount of extra width, length is given a different amount. You pattern doesn't have sleeves, but armhole and neck edges go up and down (again - look at commercial patterns and you will understand what I'm saying) So, you would have to take the top apart, and figure out how much to add to the seams and where to add it.

    That being said, it would be easier as someone else explained, figure out where your daughter needs the extra room, (example, 2 inches larger around the chest) divide the 2 inches by the number of seams (if there are just side seams, thats divide by 4) and add 1/2 inch to each side seam. If for instance there were princes seams in the front and the back,and the side seams, there are now 12 seams , so you would divide the 2 inches by 12 and add that fraction to each seam . Am I making sense here?

    There are different formulas for different size ranges. Larger sizes will jump larger amounts than smaller sizes(for instance, a womans size 20 to a 22 can jump up 2 inches in circumference where a misses size 6 to an 8 will jump up only 1 inch in width.) but thats getting very technical.

    1. gogojojo | | #8

      Thanks for clarifying;  I kind of thought it wouldn't be as simple as drawing out the pattern pieces and simply adding x" all around each piece (though I was almost desperate enough to try that).  Sounds like one would have to take a class in pattern drafting to get what you're talking about.  I've purchased all the stuff I need to make a new one in a larger size, and it seems simple enough.  I will post pics when finished.  Thanks again!

      1. HeartFire2 | | #9

        HI, Its not a class in pattern drafting. Its a whole separate class in pattern grading, and it was very confusing to some people

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