Matching up the pattern pieces

One of the most important parts of making your own patterns is double checking that all the pieces are going to match up correctly when you finally sew them together! I know it sounds kinda dumb, especially when you used the same measurements to make the front and the back, but sometimes they can inexplicably go wonky. A few simple checks now will make for far less headaches later in the project. I promise.

Grab your 3 pattern pieces (bodice front, bodice back, and sleeve), a pencil, a measuring tape or ruler, and set yourself up at a flat surface.

First take the 2 bodice pieces and line up the side seams. You can lay one on top of the other, or just butt them up against each other. Both sides should be the same length.

Oops…I can’t use a ruler I guess!
All better!
Now do the same thing with the shoulder seams. These should be the same length as well. 
We added 1/4″ ease to the back when we were making the pattern.
Check to see if your sleeve fits correctly. If it does you can leave the extra.
If the armhole is too small for the sleeve just chop the extra off!

I took a little off at a time, but ended up loosing the whole 1/4″ anyway.
After that my sleeve measured up almost perfectly.

If either the side or shoulder seams don’t seem to match up properly, go back to your measurements and find the correct length. Use your ruler to measure each pattern and determine which is correct. Then lengthen/shorten the incorrect pattern piece to match up with the correct one.

*If I need to add a little bit I tend to just tape a small piece of paper (or just tape) onto the pattern draw my new line, and cut off the excess. Then I can do all my adjustments without tracing a new piece every time.*

Once the bodice pieces match up properly, it’s time to toss in the sleeve. You are going to “walk” the edge of the front armhole along the front of the sleeve and mark where it stops. Then you’ll do the same thing with the back of the sleeve with the back armhole. Just move slowly and keep twisting the armhole every few centimeters. The marks that you make are NOT going to match up, but don’t freak out.

Measure the distance between the front and back marks. If the number is between 1″ and 1 1/4″ you are in the clear. You did an awesome job and can now add your seam allowances and start cutting! If your number in more/less than 1″ and 1 1/4″ we have a few more steps to go through.

I’m over by 1/8″ but I’m gonna wing it and see what happens.
(OoOoo…Such a rebel !)

If the measurement is bigger than 1 1/4″ you will need to subtract from the sleeve. If your number is less than 1″ you will need to add a little. It isn’t very hard, just a trial and error type situation. Each time you add/subtract just “walk the pattern along the sleeve again and mark the new end point. Measure the distance and repeat as necessary. You can cut out the sleeve whenever you feel like it is “close enough” and see if it sews together properly. If it does, Great! If it doesn’t, you will most likely be able to tell where you need to add/subtract more. (We’ll get more detailed about the tiny fixes when we start to fit the muslin.) For now just get your measurement as close as you can to the 1″ – 1 1/4″ range.

This is how you would make the sleeve smaller to fit in an armhole. Move the straight edges in along the bicep line and
then adjust the curve. It should run parallel until almost halfway up and then blend into the original top curve. 

For other pattern pieces:
If you are working on a seam that doesn’t have an exact measurement but the pieces don’t match you can do one of two things. Either pick the “better looking” piece and just go with it (making the other piece match up) or change both. Measure the difference between the two pieces and add half to the shorter piece and subtract half from the longer piece. (Ex. There is a 1/2″ difference between the front and back shoulder seams. I subtract 1/4″ from the long side and add 1/4″ to the short side so that they are both finally equal.)

Hopefully you don’t have to do too much fiddling to get your pieces to match up correctly, but if you have any problems or questions just let me know and I’ll try to help you out.
Thanks for Visiting!
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One thought on “Matching up the pattern pieces

  1. Thank you Toni for Teaching me on child patterns, I downloaded everything so I can put it all on paper to go to my sewing room and have at it. Wish me luck, lolol. Thank You soooo much.

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