Side Waist Adjustments: How To Adjust For Your Perfect Fit

Hi there! I am Manda and I am going to talk a bit about your side waist versus the side waist Ellie & Mac patterns are drafted for.

Ellie & Mac has just released the Women's South Shore Romper, a gorgeous pattern with options for shorts/pants and short/long sleeves. When I first saw this pattern, I loved it, but thought it wouldn't be a pattern for me. Rompers usually don't fit my body at the right way and don't look very flattering due to that. But then came this romper, and with this romper the possibility to adjust the pattern to my own side waist. And that adjustment makes a world of difference! I love how this romper fits me and for the first time in my life I am wearing a romper!! 

After reading this blog, you will be able to adjust your romper, and therefore any pattern, to your own side waist. I will show you how to measure your side waist, how to calculate the adjustments to make to the pattern pieces and how to adjust the pattern pieces itself. This is really great stuff to read about, because every body has their own measurements. Some of us have a long torso, some of us a short one. And when you adjust your pattern pieces to your height, it is very helpful to know if you need to adjust the bodice, the legs or both for height.

Ellie & Mac usually drafts for a 5ft4"/5ft5" height, this is mentioned on the pattern pieces. The Women's South Shore Romper is drafted for 5ft4" with a 8" side waist. 

How to measure your side waist

My daughter's doll was a perfect helper to show you how to measure your side waist! This picture is included in the romper pattern as well, so you will always have access to this summary.  

1. Pin a piece of elastic or rope around your natural waist and your natural armpit (not all the way up to your arm, but where your crease naturally lies). It is best to measure without wearing clothes.

2. Measure with your arms down from start of the natural armpit down to your natural waist. Follow the curves of your body (blue line from arrow to arrow).

3. This pattern is drafted for a 8" side waist. When your side waist is longer or shorter then 8", you need to add or subtract this extra length at the adjustment line at the bodice.

How to calculate the adjustments to make to the pattern pieces

First you take the difference between your height and the drafted height. For my situation I need to add length. As stated on the piece I need to add 1/2" for every inch above 5 ft 4" (the height the pattern is drafted for). I am 3 inches taller (5 ft 7"), therefore I need to add 3 x 0.5 = 1.5 inches in total. But where do I add this to the pattern?

Let's see how the side waist measurement can answer that question! So, the second step is to calculate the difference between your side waist and the drafted side waist. As stated on the piece, this pattern is drafted for a 8" side waist. My side waist is 10", so I need to add (10-8) 2 inches to the bodice. 

Because I only need to adjust 1.5 inches for total height, I will subtract 0.5 inch to the pants/shorts pattern pieces at the adjustment line (yellow arrow). So the total height adjustment to the romper still is 1.5 inches. 

How to adjust the pattern pieces

All we have left to do is to adjust the pattern pieces itself. That is easy to do. First you cut all four pieces at the lines that where marked with the yellow arrow in the pictures above this paragraph. 

To subtract length from the bodice pieces, you will cut off the difference between your side waist and the drafted side waist. In my situation I need to add 2 inches to the yellow line. I usually take a piece of paper and cut it into a few pieces with the height of 2" and then I glue it between the two halves. This will look like this:

And then I need to subtract 0.5 inch from the front and back shorts/pants pattern pieces. I will take this off at the adjustment lines that are marked with the yellow arrow in the paragraph above. And then I glue the pieces back together. 

Et voila: your new pattern pieces are ready to use, adjusted to your own height and side waist. All is left to sew up the pattern as stated in the instructions. And after sewing it up, I hope you will enjoy wearing your romper as much as I do!

Pattern: Women's South Shore Romper


To subtract from the pattern, do you reduce equal amounts from each side of the line?

Debra Temoche July 06, 2020

Thanks this is helpful! I’m eyeing this pattern but not sure how challenging it will be as I haven’t sewed many garments. I feel a bit more confident after reading this!

Cathy April 15, 2019

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