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Shortening your Dream Tee

Updated: Nov 2, 2019


Me wearing my new favorite dress. It's a Dream Tee dress length with half length sleeves, scoop neck, and pockets made from a gorgeous terracotta rib knit.

Hi there! I'm Keri, and I'm 5'0"! At my height, I've gotten pretty used to adjusting the length of items to fit me properly. I made a muslin of the Dream Tee dress length without any adjustments at all at first just to see how it fit and I decided I'd like to go ahead and shorten it the recommended 3" instead of leaving it long.

The Dream Tee is drafted for a height of 5'6" and it's recommended to lengthen or shorten 1/2" for every inch of height difference you have. Most folks won't have such a large change to make and your alterations may not be as broad as mine, but the concepts and steps will be the same.


We're going to approach shortening in the following steps:

1. Assemble your pattern and identify the lengthen/shorten line. Calculate the amount you need to shorten.

2. Measure and mark your fold lines.

3. Fold your pattern to shorten the overall height.

4. Re-draw side seam lines from armscye to hem

5. Remember to transfer the pocket marking if adding a pocket!

6. You did it! You can now trace or cut out your pattern piece.

7. BONUS Shortening the dolman sleeve

Step 1. Here, I've got all my pieces taped together and you can see the lengthen/shorten line spreading across pages 7 and 8. I used the Layers feature to only include two sizes (I measure between 16 and 18). For the dress length I'm sticking with a straight size 16 and will be basing all my adjustments on the dark green dotted lines. Right beneath the shorten/lengthen line, you can see that the pattern is drafted for a height of 5'6". How tall are you? You'll need to shorten1/2" for every 1" shorter than 5'6" you are. I'm 5'0" and shortened 3". If you're 5'3", you'd shorten 1.5".

Step 2. I like to divide the total amount I need to shorten in half - half above the height adjustment line and half below. In the images above, you can see I'm measuring 1.5" above the adjustment line (image A) and 1.5" below the adjustment line (image B) to create my own new bright pink lines that are spaced 3" apart (image C).

Step 3. Now, I crease the bottom line that I just drew (image A) and fold it up to meet the top line (image B). You'll see that the side seam lines from the original pattern are way off and don't meet up at all. We'll fix that in the next step.

Step 4. I like to help myself draw the new side seam lines by marking a few reference points with big circles. Here, I've drawn myself a circle at the pattern's original spot where the dress seam angles out from the armpit curve (#1). The second circle down I made was where the original dress seam line is at the point where my pattern fold up (#2). Finally, I've circled for myself where the side seam meats the bottom hem curve (#3). For my own reference, I re-traced the pattern line from circle #1 to #2 because it helps me see where I need to trace or cut out at the end. Then, I drew a straight line from circle #2 to circle #3.

Original pattern pocket placement marking below inch-mark 14 on my straightedge and newly transferred marking below inch-mark 13.

Step 5. DON'T FORGET to transfer your pocket marking! Using my straight edge, I've redrawn my marking along the new side seam line just next to the original marking.

Step 6. SUCCESS! You did it! I like to circle a number of points along my pattern to help myself remember which lines I'm going to trace or cut if there are several printed/drawn. Here, I've circled points on the short sleeve length cut line as well so I remember to follow that size line and my new side seam lines.

BONUS! Shortening the dolman sleeves.

For one of my tees, I wanted to make the half length sleeve. In my original unaltered muslin, that length came out about 1.5" past my elbow, so I wanted to shorten the half length sleeve by that amount. To do this, I followed all of the same steps that I used for shortening the bodice before.

In photo A, I repeated steps 1-3. I penciled in my own shortening line about halfway between the short sleeve and half sleeve pattern lines. Then, I drew a bright pink line 0.75" above AND below. I creased the lower line and folded it up to meet the upper line.

In photo B, you can see where the two lines meet and the sleeve has been shortened. Marking my reference points with circles, I re-drew the seam lines from short sleeve to half sleeve. This method lets me keep the original hem width and curve.


Once you've got your fit perfected, you're ready to go ahead and make the Dream Tee a wardrobe staple.

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