Hello! I’m Tanya from the sewing blog Mrs. Hughes, a NorCal gal who has an undying love for the ESP dress! The ESP dress is such a simple and satisfying make from Decades of Style Patterns and their microline of patterns – Decades Everyday. This dress has an early 1960’s vibe and can be made in so many different fabrics. I’ve made so many ESP dresses that I’m probably borderline obsessed with it and once you make one, you’ll probably want to sew up another! My favorite fabrics to use for this pattern are quilting cottons with vibrant colors and kitschy prints. I really can’t get enough of them to tell you the truth! I was certainly excited to choose this gorgeous print from the Art Gallery Succulence collection by Bonnie Christine.
In this tutorial, I’m going to share a simple method I use to resize a sewing pattern using the ESP dress, so let’s jump in!
First off, you’ll need to gather some supplies. Most likely you’ll have everything you need in your sewing room or around the house.
- Your pattern (I’m of course using the Decades Everyday ESP Dress)
- Your fabric (I’m sewing with the Art Gallery Succulence Rosette in Rain)
- Tissue Paper (or any other paper you prefer)
- Scissors (fabric and paper)
- Seam Gauge/Ruler
- Pins/Pattern Weights
For the first step, you need to figure out your size. I like to extend the measurements from the size chart on the pattern. The ESP dress has two inches between each size, so I use that measurement when I draw up on my own chart. Decades of Style Patterns don’t have sizes (i.e. 14, 16, 18, etc.) like other modern patterns, and instead are by bust size like vintage patterns. It makes it easier for me to circle my own measurements for my bust, waist and hips and then write down how many sizes up I need to go, such as: Bust – One size; Waist – One and a half size; Hips – Two sizes. This method works well for patterns with multiple sizes like the ESP dress.
Next, I cut my pattern pieces out with my paper cutting scissors and tape each piece to my tissue paper, making certain that it overlaps the pattern piece as this is what I’ll be using to enlarge my pattern.
I then take my seam gauge and measure the area between the two largest sizes on the pattern piece. You can use a ruler for this, but since I started using my seam gauge to resize patterns, it makes my life so much easier!
Take your measurement from your seam gauge and place it on the outer line of the largest size on your pattern piece and make a mark for your new size. On the above photo I’ve marked the sizes for one size, one and a half size and two sizes up from the largest size in different ink colors. When you’re between sizes, just use your seam gauge to measure the first size and then measure only half of the second size.
Often, the measurements between the sizes on your pattern will shrink and enlarge as the pattern is drafted, so you will need to re-measure those areas where the sizing differs to get your pattern to more accurately be resized. If your waist and hip measurements are different than your bust measurement (meaning that you don’t just fit into one size mold), measure for those differences at the waist and hip points when you’re enlarging the pattern. I am a bit pear shaped, so I often go across 2-4 sizes in a pattern.
Now, take a ruler and basically connect the dots, drawing new lines. Blend together the size change if your B-W-H measurements go up to different sizes (i.e. you fall in what would be, for example, a size 48 Bust, size 50 Waist, size 52 Hip.)
Cut along those lines you’ve just made and you have your new pattern piece! Follow the same method to cut out the sleeve and facing pieces. If you are resizing this pattern more than one size up and have fabric that is 44” wide like mine, read the notes under Step 9 to decide whether or not you want to resize the skirt pattern piece. Otherwise, resize the skirt piece following the same method. Note: If you have large biceps like I do, you may want to make a muslin of the bodice and sleeves first. I enlarged the sleeve pattern beyond my size for the first ESP dress I made. I found that I didn’t need to as the raglan sleeves offered plenty of room for me.
Lay it out on your fabric and you’re all set to cut it out!
STEP EIGHT – ALTERNATE
I have a confession, sometimes I do a kind of quick and dirty method and make my resizing marks with chalk on my fabric….. You don’t have a permanent resized pattern piece if you go this route, but it’s quicker. I only recommend this for sewists who are accustomed to resizing patterns.
Next, place your skirt pattern piece on your fabric and check to see how it fits.
This Art Gallery print has a width of 44”, which would not fit my adjusted pattern piece. However, this skirt is a basic rectangle that is cut on the fold and gathered which gives you some wiggle room whilst cutting the skirt piece out. You can fold your fabric and lay the piece out in a different direction, but I have often used fabrics with directional prints on them, which would not work for me when cutting this skirt out on the lengthwise fold. Instead, I just cut my skirt out to the largest size my fabric will accommodate and go from there. Your skirt will be slightly less full than it was designed for, but it still has quite a bit of gathering, so your ESP dress will have the same look.
Finish cutting out your pattern and follow the awesome directions to sew up your ESP dress and you’re done! Just in time to prance around and show off your new dress in YOUR size and fits!
Some further notes on the alterations that I make for my ESP dresses: 1) I like a little bit of room in my bodices, so cut my bodice with a little bit larger than my bust/waist measurements, 2) I have lowered the neckline on my pattern piece and this dress, 3) I have altered my back bodice piece with a swayback adjustment, 4) I’ve added two inches of length to my skirt for both my height and preference.
Thank you to Harts Fabric and Art Gallery for this awesome project! Thank you also to Decades of Style Patterns for designing such a great dress pattern that has truly become a TNT pattern for me!
By Tanya Hughes (Mrs. Hughes)