Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hollyburn Sew-Along - Changing the length

Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt Sew-Along

Hello all, and welcome to the next post in the Hollyburn Sew-Along!

Incase you've missed any, here are the posts we've had so far:

Inspiration (Part 1)
Inspiration (Part 2)
Choosing a view
- Choosing and Buying Fabric

Today we're going to talk about adjusting the length of your skirt. I mentioned that I would cover this in the post about choosing a view, where we discussed using your desired length to assist you in choosing a view for making the skirt.

But first, I want to quickly talk about cutting vs tracing...

To cut or to trace?

You may or may not have seen talk around on blogs about tracing patterns or cutting them. When you've got your copy of a pattern you have two main options for how to use the pattern (and a third sub-option).

One is to cut out the pattern - to find the pattern pieces for the view you're making, and cut them out in the size you want. While being quick and easy, by cutting out the pattern pieces you've destroyed the other sizes (at least the larger ones, but sometimes bits of the smaller ones too). So of you discover you've made the wrong size, or you change size or want to make the pattern for somebody else you've made life difficult for yourself. However, it is quicker and easier than the other options.

The second option is to trace the pattern. Tracing adds an extra step so adds time, but preserves your pattern and all its sizes for the future. There are lots of different mediums you can trace your pattern onto, and what you use is a matter of personal preference and availability. I have been using one of those 'easel pads' of paper that you get in offices as the sheets are big, and the paper is quite thin. As I don't have a light box, I stick my pattern piece to the glass window of my balcony door and then stick the paper over the top and trace it (although this method only works during the day!)

Quick Tip: if using blu-tac with your pattern piece, add a little square of sticky tape to the pattern where you want to use the blu-tac and you'll be able to get the blu-tac off again without ripping the pattern tissue

The last option, the third sub-option I mentioned above is a fantastic one that Marie has described here where you snip into the pattern tissue and fold it back rather than cutting it. That way you dont' have to trace but haven't completely destroyed the other sizes.

Changing the length

Anyway, moving onto the main topic of this post, changing the length...

As I mentioned in the post on choosing a view, I recommend choosing a length and view that correspond (ie 17-19" = view C, 21-23" = view B, 24-26" = view A) as Tasia has designed the skirt so that the amounts of flare correspond to the length of the skirt in a flattering way. However, having said that, it's your skirt you're making, so if you want to change the length, then go for it!

The below picture shows the three pattern pieces laid out on top of each other; you can see that they are the three different lengths we discussed. If the length you chose is within the length brackets for the view you're making then changing the length is super easy!

Changing length within a view
If we take a closer look at the bottom of one of the skirt pieces, you can see that the sizes run on top of each other down the centre front and back (left hand size), and spread out down the side seams (right hand side):

Now, mark the side seam of the size you're making, and the hem the length you want. In my example I am going to be cutting out a size 4, but lengthen it slightly to be the length of the size 12 (marked in green).

However, you'll be able to see that there's a bit of a gap at the bottom corner now. Using a ruler extend your side seam down until it hits the length you've marked (shown in blue). If you're making a shorter length, you'll instead need to extend the hemline across to meet the side seam.

The last thing you need to do is make sure that you re-mark your notches measure up how far the notch was from the hemline and mark a new notch the same distance up from your new hemline (shown in orange). Remember to mark the new notches at both the sideseams and centre front/back seams.

Now continue with cutting out your pattern pieces along your new lines and you're ready to go!

So that's got you covered if your length option is in the length bracket for your view.. but what if it's not? Well, if it's in the length bracket for another view then that's another pretty easy alteration.

Changing the length between views
For example, if you want to make a skirt that has the flare of view B but the length of view C, then you'd take the pattern pieces for those two views and lay them on top of each other. Line up the centre front/back seam and the centre front/back notches:

Now you can trace off the hemline of the size/view that has the length you're after. As with the example above for changing length within a view, you'll need to connect the lines smoothly at the bottom of the side seam, and re-draw your notches.

Another way to change the length
Another option to change the length is to just measure a series of points either up or down from your hemline the amount you want to take away or add to the skirt, then join up your points with a smooth curve:

If the length you want isn't one of the lengths provided in the pattern you'll need to do this, but you can use this method for changing it to any length including those in the pattern.

Is everything clear? Any questions? Are you changing the length of your skirt or are you going with the length suggested for your size in the pattern?

Missed any of the sew-along posts, or just want to re-read them? You can find the full list here.


  1. I have been fabric shopping my stash and washing various fabrics today. It remains to be seen whether my piece of linen is big enough. I do have a back up cotton poplin ... hmmm you can see I have difficulties making decisions.

    I usually do suboption 3 unless it's a pattern that looks like it'll be used forever, so of I'll go tracing tonight. My son's shorts pattern I traced onto card board, because it gets used all the time.

  2. Love your clear instructions! I'm going with view A (the longest) and will be adding a little extra length as well :)

  3. I'm making View C size 0 for my daughter, but need to shorten the length by 4 inches (she is only 4' 11" tall).
    What is the best way todo this?
    Betsy Maness


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