Lengthen & Shorten Tutorial

One of the best things about sewing for yourself is that you can adjust the pattern and clothing for your body! Most PDF patterns are drafted for those who are around 5’5". So, if you are well below or above 5’5" you may find yourself doing this simple alteration often!


  • Shorts Sewing Pattern
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Paper
  • Pen/Pencil

This is pattern is the Endless Summer Shorts pattern from Winter Wear Designs

The lengthen line isn't perpendicular to the grain-line, but follow the pattern for the best results.

Step 1 – Cut it

Cut a straight line between the bottom of the short and the crotch point. If your pattern has line for lengthening/shortening, cut along this line. However, if your pattern does not have one, the line should be perpendicular to the grainline.

Step 2 – Measure it

If you are shortening – On your pattern piece, draw a parallel straight line. The distance between the edge of the pattern and the line you drew will be the amount you want to shorten your shorts. I used 1/2 an inch for this example.

Shortening 1/2 Inch

If you are lengthening – Draw two parallel lines on a separate piece of paper. The distance between these two lines is equal to the amount you desire to lengthen the shorts. I used 1 inch for this example.

Lengthening 1 Inch

Step 3 – Tape it

If you are shortening – Overlap the two pieces. The edge of the pattern will meet at the line you just drew. Tape into place and be sure to keep your pattern straight.

Shortening 1/2 Inch

If you are lengthening – Place the pattern pieces on top of the new piece of paper. Match the edges of the pattern pieces to the lines on the paper.

Tape in place. Be sure to keep the pattern straight and don’t move the bottom half of the pattern to one side or the other.

Lengthening 1 Inch

Step 4 – Mark it

Mark the sides of each pattern piece by smoothing out the straight line. You may need to add paper to the side to fill in any gaps. If the side you are smoothing is a straight line, use a ruler to make a line between the top point and the hem. Trim the line.
If your line is a curved line, you can use a curved ruler to get a smooth line, or just freehand it. In my example, I freehand drew the curve as it was only just over an inch of curve.

Step 5 – Repeat it

After you complete the first pattern piece, repeat the process on the second pattern piece. Your outer seam and inner seam should be the same measurement on each pattern piece.

Finished Shortened Pattern Pieces

Finished Lengthened Pattern Pieces

And you are finished! You now can cut your fabric and have your finished shorts be at the exact length that fits your body best. 


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