Adjusting a 70s dress pattern to a different size

As I mentioned in my post about the 70s GDR sewing magazine, I wanted to make some of the dresses from it. To do this, I would have to adjust the patterns dramatically to fit me, as most of them were in one size only.

The dress I most wanted to make is the one on the right here:


some beautiful dresses


The size offered as a pattern would be a contemporary German size 38 (UK 10). Being a relatively busty UK size 14, I knew I had some work to do. However, the fact that there are pattern pieces for this dress that solely enclose the boobs, made me think that it would be easier to adjust. Yes, I actually thought that…

This is one of my first forays into adjusting patterns, so I didn’t expect a perfect outcome.

As you can see, I finally got myself a tracing wheel.




I traced the pattern onto Swedish sewing paper and then measured myself. This turned out to be really easy for the front pieces, as I had hoped. The upper front piece had to be longer to accommodate my boobs. The shoulders actually seemed ok. (This is really often the case for me, size 14 patterns tend to be a bit wide and usually too long in the shoulders for me.)

Now the upper back seems a bit odd by my contemporary standards. I have never seen a pattern that uses darts in the shoulder seem. I understand that the back is meant to give me the ease to move around in the dress, but this still seems a bit strange to me. In any case, I also made it a bit longer and a little wider at the bottom.

I made both lower front and lower back pieces a little bit wider according to my measurements.

What I found really weird, was that I didn’t actually add all too much to the patterns. Maybe it was one of those patterns that has lots of ease built into it. There is absolutely no indication of this in the magazine or on the pattern.

I was also wondering whether or not seam allowances were included in the patterns. (Again, no indication…) I obviously added them to my adjusted pattern, so if they were included that would explain the small adjustments.






I just had enough fabric for a mockup. I used a classic polyester in white, which I had lying around.

Admittedly, I messed up the lower back piece. I later noticed that it is much too big in comparison to the upper back. I also managed to use the wrong side of the lower front on the fabric fold. At least I added an unnessesary seam allowance on that fold, so that cutting it and sewing it together on the other side wasn’t a problem. I should not attempt making patterns at 10 pm…

This is the mockup from the front. Trying it on, I find it a bit loose in the boob region and also around my waist (which is admittedly quite high.) I wonder if this style just doesn’t suit me, as it really accentuates my boobs.