top of page

Altering a Paper Pattern Workshop

Learn pattern drafting techniques to alter a paper sewing pattern to fit your body. At the end of the workshop, you will go away with a pattern that has been altered to fit you perfectly, so you can go ahead and sew up your garment without worrying about fit. You will also gain the skills to repeat this process on future patterns.

Please note: In this class, we will not be doing any sewing; we will just be changing the sewing pattern.

Sewing Level: Intermediate

To get the most out of this class, you will need to be comfortable with the basics of sewing a garment together, as you will need to make a mock-up of the garment you want to fit before the class. You will need to be comfortable using the sewing pattern you plan to fit, but you don’t need to be an expert. You do not need to know anything about pattern drafting or alterations; we will teach you all about that in class.

For example, you understand the basics of sewing and have completed one of our six-week sewing classes. You have a new dress pattern you want to make, but you want it to fit perfectly. You are happy to sew up a test version of it at home and bring it into the workshop. You have only tried easy patterns so far, but you are comfortable sewing those.

Alternatively, you are an experienced sewist, with many garments under your belt, but patterns always seem to be not quite right in one area. You can bring along a piece you’ve been wanting to fit, then you will be able to apply those techniques at home to your other garments.

What you will need to bring:
 

  • Your sewing pattern

  • A mock-up of your garment


(Please note: if you are making the garment for someone else, they will need to be there for the first hour and a half as we will need to fit the mock-up on them!)

A mock-up is a test version of whatever you are sewing - sometimes called a ‘muslin’ or a ‘toile’. You want to make your garment in a cheap fabric that is roughly the same weight as your final piece will be - second-hand bed sheets are excellent for this. You don’t need to worry about seam finishing for this mock-up, and you don’t need to do things like hems, facings, or pockets, as it is just to get an idea of how it fits. You will need to put in any zips that might need to be there, so we can do it up, but we can use pins in place of buttons or snaps to close jackets, etc.

The reason for this is that you will try on the garment in class, and then we will draw in any changes that need to be made directly on the body. We might also need to cut the mock-up to see how much extra room to add, so it shouldn’t be something you are planning on keeping after class.

As you will be trying your garment on in class, make sure you’re wearing something that your piece can easily go over. Leggings and a tight t-shirt are great examples if we are fitting a dress, but anything is fine as long as you can put your mock-up on top and we can get a good idea of how it will fit you.

We will provide pencils, rulers, and tape measures.

Class Structure:

1:00 - Arrive + tea/coffee
1:15 - Class intro and get to know you
1:45 - Get changed into mock-ups
2:00 - Individually fit each garment, explaining the process as we go in front of the whole class
3:30 - BREAK
4:00 - 5:45 - Transfer changes made to the mock-up onto your paper pattern.

Timings are approximate at this stage and are based on doing the fittings in dressmaking classes. We can also move the start times around; this is just an example.

FAQs:

Why do I need to make a mock-up? Why can’t I just use a finished dress?

This is because we might need to cut into the mock-up to assess how much extra fabric we need. We could have a guess, but the fastest and most accurate method is sometimes to cut into the piece. We also might need to add in length to pieces, and we can’t easily do that once we are using our final fabric. More complex alterations such as full bust adjustments also cannot be done once the fabric is already cut.

If you have a finished piece you would like to alter, you might enjoy our Alterations workshop.

I don’t want to waste fabric!

We understand! It feels wasteful to use fabric for something you don’t plan to wear, but it is much better to use a mock-up than to waste your lovely expensive fabric time and time again. We also encourage you to be creative in finding your mock-up fabric! Old, stained bedsheets are fantastic for this, as are old curtains and tablecloths. Charity shops often throw out huge amounts of textile waste, so check with them and see if there is anything they are unable to sell. Likewise, family and friends often have old textiles around the house, so ask around and you might be surprised by what you can unearth.

Can I make my garment for someone else?

Yes! As long as they are willing to hang around for the first half of the class to be your fit model. It will be impossible to fit a garment on someone who isn’t present.

Oh no, I’ve run out of time to make my mock-up, will I still be able to come to class?

This class will centre around fitting your mock-up, so you will not get the most out of it if you don’t have anything to fit. That said, we understand that sometimes life gets in the way. You will still be able to come to class; we will just employ a method called ‘tissue fitting’ which is where you hold the pattern pieces up to yourself and have a guess at any major fit issues. This method is nowhere near as effective, but it will let you see the basic principles. You will need to have your sewing pattern cut out for this.

I’ve only sewn one dress, can I still come?

Yes, you can! Just bring a mock-up of that one dress you can sew, and we will fit that!

I’ve never sewn a dress before, but I’ve made some bags. I want my sewing to fit straight away. Is this class suitable for me?

This class would not be the best option for you, as you need a basic understanding of how a garment goes together before we can look at how to alter it. You might enjoy our six-week dressmaking course, where we cover sewing a garment, and we do a little bit of fitting there. (link to dressmaking class)

 

 

Knowledge required

Intermediate sewing skills - must have made at least one garment.
 

What you'll get

A paper pattern that has been adjusted so that the garment will fit them perfectly.
 

What to bring

What you will need to bring:
 

  • You will need to bring your sewing pattern and a mock-up of your garment.

  • (Please note: if you are making the garment for someone else, they will need to be there for the first hour and a half as we will need to fit the mock-up on them!)


A mock-up is a test version of whatever you are sewing - sometimes called a 'muslin' or a 'toile'. You want to make your garment in a cheap fabric that is roughly the same weight as your final piece will be - second-hand bed sheets are excellent for this. You don't need to worry about seam finishing for this mock-up, and you don't need to do things like hems, facings, or pockets, as it is just to get an idea of how it fits. You will need to put in any zips that might need to be there so we can do it up, but we can use pins in place of buttons or snaps to close jackets, etc.

The reason for this is that you will try on the garment in class, and then we will draw in any changes that need to be made directly on the body. We might also need to cut the mock-up to see how much extra room to add, so it shouldn't be something you are planning on keeping after class.

As you will be trying your garment on in class, make sure you're wearing something that your piece can easily go over. Leggings and a tight t-shirt are great examples if we are fitting a dress, but anything is fine as long as you can put your mock-up on top and we can get a good idea of how it will fit you.

We will provide pencils, rulers, and tape measures.

bottom of page