The Acton sew-along : How to lengthen the bodice

Welcome back to the Acton Sew-along.

In yesterday's tutorial, I gave you all the reasons why you should always make a toile (especially when you're making a fitted garment like the Acton) and showed you how to go about it. In the next few tutorials, I'm going to show you what to do if you have realised that you need to shorten or lengthen the bodice. This is probably one of the simplest pattern alterations you can make, so please don't be daunted by it if you've realised that you'll get a better fit by changing the length of your bodice. 

By referring to your toile, you will be able to know whether you need to remove length below the bust, or above the bust. The method is exactly the same, just the location of the cut is different. This tutorial will show you how to remove excess from below the bust, and later today I'll show you how to remove length from above the bust. 

Getting started

To start, trace a copy of the CENTRE FRONT BODICE and SIDE FRONT BODIE of the Acton pattern (it's always a good idea to trace a copy of the pattern, rather than using the original, in case you make a mistake. Although with a digital pattern you can always print another copy if necessary!), including all pattern markings (in this case the stitch line, grainlines and notches). 

Normally I suggest removing the seam allowance when making pattern alterations, but when it's as simple as this alteration, there really is no need. 

Draw a horizontal line (perpendicular to the grainline) through each pattern piece between the lower notches (below the bust line). On the CENTRE FRONT BODICE piece, make sure the line is far enough up the piece that it intersects the centre front of the piece and not through the bottom edge.

Cut through the pattern pieces

Carefully cut through each line, separating each piece into two. 

lengthen the bodice

Take a piece of pattern paper (this is a great time to use up some of your paper scraps!) and draw a horizontal line straight through the (roughly) middle. On the right hand side, draw a line perpendicular to the horizontal line, creating a right angle. This will be the grainline of the new pattern piece. 

Take the lower section of the CENTRE FRONT BODICE and line it up with the horizontal and vertical line you just drew - the centre front matching up with the vertical line and the cut edge aligned with the horizontal line. Tape or glue in place. 

Add length to the pattern piece

By looking at your toile, work out how much extra length you need to add to the pattern. For the case of the example, I will be adding 2.5cm (1").

On the vertical line, mark a point 2.5cm / 1" (or whatever length you are adding to the pattern) above the cut edge. 

acton_dress_shorten_bodice_3_5.gif

Draw a line parallel to the cut edge of the pattern running from the point you marked in the previous step. 

Take the upper section of the CENTRE FRONT BODICE and place the cut edge on the second horizontal line, aligning the centre front with the vertical line. Tape or glue in place. 

Trace the new pattern piece

A : Take another piece of pattern paper and trace your new pattern piece. Start by tracing the original lines of the pattern which have not been affected by the changes.

B : Redraw the panel seam by drawing a line from the top of the pattern piece, down to the bottom - meeting the original line at each end. Do this for both the cutting line and the stitching line. 

Be sure to trace all pattern markings - notches, drill hole and grainline. Label the pattern for safe-keeping. You can now cut out your new pattern piece. 

Repeat Process for the side front bodice

For the SIDE FRONT BODICE you will need your piece of paper to be slightly wider than the one you used for the CENTRE FRONT BODICE. Again, mark the horizontal and vertical lines on the paper - but this time, place the vertical line closer to the centre of the paper. 

Take the lower section of the SIDE FRONT BODICE and line it up with the horizontal and vertical line you just drew - the grainline matching up with the vertical line (you can now see why this line had to be closer to the middle) and the cut edge aligned with the horizontal line. Tape or glue in place. 

On the vertical line (the grainline in this case), mark a point 2.5cm / 1" (or whatever length you are adding to the pattern) above the pattern edge. This distance needs to be the same amount that you added to the CENTRE FRONT BODICE.

Draw a line parallel to the cut edge of the pattern running from the point you marked in the previous step. 

Take the upper section of the SIDE FRONT BODICE and place the cut edge on the second horizontal line, aligning the grainline with the vertical line. Tape or glue in place. 

You will see that the changes are limited to area where the paper was added, so there is no need to trace the pattern. Simply re-draw the side seam and princess seam and cut the piece out.

Repeat process for the back panels and that's it!

Are you enjoying the Acton sew-along? There are still plenty of posts to come!


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Posted on January 12, 2017 and filed under pattern making tutorials, the acton.