Why would you need to adjust a pattern?
Ever found a beautiful pattern on Pinterest but it’s not for a child size and you would just love to make one for an older recipient or make it for yourself? Or it’s available in an adult size and you would love to make a matching set for you and your little one. You might also want to add some extra width or length to the pattern. There are many reasons why you need to adjust a garment pattern.
Before we dive into this, I want to emphasize that adjust a pattern written by another designer is fine, in my opinion, as long as you do not try to sell the adjusted pattern as your own. It would be best to contact the designer and see if a collaboration on you sharing the additional size would be acceptable but under no circumstance should you claim the pattern as yours.
Once you’ve decided on what type of adjustment you’d like to make to the pattern, there are a few things you must consider; making a gauge swatch, whether the pattern has repeats, where you’d like to make the adjustments.
Where to Start
Start by finding the size closest to the adjustment you want to make. If there’s only one size, then that is where you will be starting. Once you have this information, you will now need to take your or the recipient’s correct measurements. Compare those to the measurements given to see if where you will need to increase or decrease. Don’t forget to take into effect the ease needed for the garment not to have any flow. In other words, it may end up being skin tight. I will also suggest you visit the Craft Yarn Council website for standard body measurements and sizing.
I will be honest with you, I rarely make gauge swatches when I’m working on someone else’s pattern. However, I will recommend you make one EVERY SINGLE TIME you are about to start crochet something, especially if it’s wearable.
No two people crochet or knit the exact same way. A gauge swatch helps you find the link between yours and the designer’s tension. If you crochet looser than the designer for example, then you will have to create fewer rows or fewer stitches to match their gauge. A gauge swatch lets you know whether you will need to adjust the hook size to meet the requirements the designer has set forth for their pattern. It ensures that your finished object measures the same as the designers.
I have found that going up or down a hook size from what the designer has recommended, will usually get you the gauge needed to complete the pattern.
Take it from someone who hates making gauge swatches, you do not want to finish a sweater and find out that it’s too big or too tight. If you’re worried about “wasting yarn” you can just undo the stitches and use the same yarn to create your finished object.
The time it takes to do a gauge swatch is by far smaller than what it would take you to be halfway through or done with a project a realize you have to start over because your gauge was larger or smaller than the designer.
Calculate the number stitches
Now you need to use your gauge swatch to figure out the number of stitches per inch. This will tell you how many stitches to add or remove in order to adjust your pattern.
Using a measuring tape, measure exactly how many stitches per row it takes to get one inch. If you don’t get a whole number that is fine. Be sure to write it down. So if you have 3.5 stitches, then use that. However, if you choose to use round up and use 4 stitches per inch because you would like your garment to have more ease than that is also fine. I would be wary of rounding down since you may end up with a top or sweater that is a bit too fitted.
Now using the stitch per inch you just measured, calculate how many inches you will need to have the measurements you calculated in step one. So if you had 32 inches in your measurement and your gauge swatch had 4 stitches per inch, then you know that to take a 30-inch garment to 32 inches you will need to add 8 stitches to the pattern. Or you could multiply the number of stitches by 4 to get the number of stitches for your size. Add this to your foundation row or cast-on.
Does the Pattern have Repeats or stitch multiples?
Now let’s look at a pattern which has a stitch multiple. If the pattern has a stitch multiple or repeat, you will need to take that into consideration when adding stitches to the foundation row or cast-on.
In a perfect world, all you’ll have to do is take your foundation row number and divide it by your stitch multiple. The number closest to that would be your new stitch multiple per row. What if you don’t get a stitch multiple at all? What if the pattern doesn’t say, “this pattern works in multiple of 29 plus 2 stitches”? Well, that’s when you will need to use the repeats in the pattern to figure out the multiple of stitches you will need to work with.
This all works well if you need to increase circumference or width or the pattern. What if you need to adjust the length of the sleeve of a sweater, for example? Many times, the designer will have decreases at specific sections to ensure to certain fit. The best place to add extra length to the pattern would be a section where you a neither increasing or decreasing. This would prevent you from changing the stitch multiple of the pattern. Changing the stitch multiple could make your sleeve too tight or loose in a certain area. This could make attaching your sleeve difficult you have too few or too many stitches.
So to summarize it all for you, decide why you want to adjust the pattern, do a gauge swatch, figure out the repeats and stitch multiples, and be sure to get the right measurements that will allow you to get a comfortable fit for your body.
If you have any comments or suggestions on this topic, please leave them below!