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I’m pretty tall and have problems finding clothing that fits so I’m slowly learning to alter clothing and sew for myself, but I ask for a friend of mine. She is extremely tall at 6’8" and everything needs to be altered to fit. What she has is not flattering and she doesn’t have the money to have custom tailored clothing made. My question is how far can patterns be pushed? She isn’t particularly heavy for her height and has an athletic shape.

She would really like to be in clothing that looks sharp on her.


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  • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

    Dec 11, 2010, 01.41 PMby katexxxxxx

    Classic business skirt and trousers suits look good on very tall people. There are some very nice 40’s details that can be added without adding bulk, which you want to avoid. THE BEST way forward would be for her to learn to sew and draft her own patterns. It’s never very successful trying to extend patterns for extremes. I just about hit the limit adapting them for my sister at 5’10" and a UK size 14-16.

  • Cimg4603_2_large

    Jan 17, 2011, 12.24 PMby soaringviola

    I am not that tall (“only” 5’10’’) but also have problems to find clothing – trousers are always to short and blouses always slip out of the trousers, I guess you know what I mean… Katexxxxxx is right that drafting your own patterns should be the best solution, but when you are not that expirienced and a bit lazy (like me) maybe start with altering patterns. There are some patterns at BurdaStyle which have extra marks to lenghten or shorten them. For example I just sewed the JJ Blouse and added 2 cm at each mark and one at the waistband so it turned out 5 cm longer than the original pattern and it fitted really good. You can have a look at it here there is also a picture where you can see how I placed the pattern pieces with the gaps on the fabric. I have no clue if this also works when your friend is THAT tall but maybe just give it a try and let us know how it turned out :-)

  • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

    Jan 17, 2011, 03.20 PMby katexxxxxx

    The real trick is learning where you need to add the extra length: with trousers, you may need to add to the hip length, above the knee, and below the knee to keep the proportions correct. Knowing how much you need to add at each point also helps.

  • 6e3656aa7036783b3e4bbc29f34d1029385afafe_large

    Jan 29, 2011, 05.28 PMby wzrdreams

    I agree, it helps to know where the extra length is needed.

    I’m about 5’10.5" and I have very long legs and lower torso. I always add length to patterns; approximately 3/4"-1" in the bodice, and 3-4 inches for skirts and pants. I add the length to the pants and skirts in 2 places: the hip and the hem. I do this because my the distance from my natural waist to the wides part of my hips is 11" rather than the standard 9".

    Sewing my own clothes puts me feel in control of my clothing options and ensures that I will get a proper fitting garment. I would encourage anyone with fitting issues to learn how to adjust patterns for their own body. After a few times doing it, the pattern alterations become part of the sewing routine.

  • 5_large

    Jan 30, 2011, 12.14 PMby susanne2011

    I have the same problem. I am 6’2’’ (1m88). It is pretty easy to alter skirts, dresses and blouses, especially with the burdastyle patterns like the others suggested. I have never dared to sew trousers yet. Orther than that; everytime I am in England I stock up on jeans. There are a lot of stores that have a tall range, like Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and especially Long Tall Sally. Many of these stores have an online shop as well, where they ship to most parts of the world. I think you can even get trouser length 38’’ .

  • Smurfette_large

    Apr 5, 2011, 08.51 PMby kicking

    I’m 5’11" and have to alter everything too. I love making my own clothes cause they fit perfectly. It is rare or impossible to find properly fitting clothing in shops. No idea about drafting patterns but will figure that one out at some stage.

  • 555601_501658813193233_862358384_n_1__large

    Apr 7, 2011, 07.05 AMby joost52

    I am 6’6" (1m98) and although I am a man (gasp!) that puts me way beyond being able to grab something off-the-shelf. In my experience, you can add to a pattern but it all boils down to where you add it. In the long run, your friend and you are better off to draft patterns yourself so that instead of your tallness being a handicap, you can turn it into an advantage. There’s just more canvas to paint on when making clothes for tall people ;-)

    You might want to add elements that break up the long parts a bit. Like when I make pants, I often make the legs into a patchwork of different pieces to break up that seemingly endless patch of fabric a bit.

    When getting into making your own patterns, start from your best pants, shirt or whatever, and try to copy it. Then take it from there. I for one couldn’t draft a pattern on a blank page to safe my life, but copying and altering something isn’t that hard at all. I use Inkscape (http://inkscape.org/) to draft patterns.

  • Road_trip_010_large

    Apr 8, 2011, 01.59 AMby cambra

    Since you both are tall..and if you are both interested in sewing you could try fitting your own slopers, that way you will have the length you need in exactly the right place and address all of your fitting patterns. you can then draft your own patterns from there with all of your fitting issues already tackled. It will take a while to get it done and it gets frustrating but it is well worth the one time effort (unless your body changes drastically, pregnancy, weight gain/loss etc)

    1 Reply
    • Missing

      Jun 7, 2011, 10.11 AMby Alicehavelock

      I think you know a lot about this and hope you will write the book on it. Hope to hear more from you.

  • Missing

    Aug 17, 2011, 04.32 PMby msorr

    I know this is an old thread but I thought I’d put my two-cents in as a tall gal. Most tall women look best with horizontal visual breaks. Since your friend has an athletic build pieces should be form fitting without being too tight. I’m thinking leggings layered under short-to-knee length skirts with knee-high or ankle boots or ballet flats. A-line, drop-waist, and pleated (but not poofy) skirts will help create a waist. Skirt pattern are relatively easy to lengthen and leggings aren’t too expensive even in specialty sizes. Also, shirts and jackets will probably look best if they hit just at the top of the hip and are contoured slightly at the waist to emphasize what curves she has. If she has a smallish bust (as many athletic types do) try to include some sort of detailing around the bust area. Also, unless you are an experienced sewer I’d recommend having a good multipurpose jacket and a coat made professionally. It is quite an investment but really worth it. So long as the style and material choices are classic pieces like that should last 20 years.

  • Missing

    Mar 11, 2012, 10.50 PMby Anna Earney

    The problem with simply lengthening the pattern…….. hmmmm. I just tried this (I’m around 6’) thankfully on a muslin. The bodice was long enough, but still not quite right in the darts, etc. I’m having to redo all of that. What I’m going to do (and would suggest to you) is to go through the hassle once of making a good basic bodice muslin (I guess this would be similar to having a block for yourself) that I can keep and make alterations on. I started with the pattern and cut out the muslin. Everything was in the wrong place even though I lengthened it. So once I figure out where the darts need to be (hint: NOT 1 1/2 inches underneath my armpit, thankyouverymuch Lisette >=+(( OR the two waist darts 4" apart, McCalls, THEN I can go from there and pretty much alter to do anything I want.

  • Purplefan_large

    Apr 17, 2012, 02.37 AMby purplefan

    I’m 5’11" and can’t wear horizontal stripes (widely spaced, not narrowly spaced) unless the top is a tunic (which then balances my torso with my legs!), as my torso is short but legs are long. It’s not flattering to wear stripes horizontally on a tucked in top-I look like I have my torso disappearing. I had to fight for vertical stripes on my clothing as a teen, as my mother thought they were too much but hey, I was on to something.

    I think a long coat jacket aka gunslinger style in a sharp, in-style colour would be ab-fab for the tall friend! Pair with some pants in different colours and she can create different moods with the jacket.

    See if you can obtain the February 1998 Burda World of Fashion issue-there is a nice long blouse style with a drapey collar shown in a burgundy floral print (I had to modify pattern for my longer limbs but it was worth it). It would be stunning on a taller person. Splurge on a nice fabric. I had made my own in a Viyella print that had similar colours. Loved it!

  • Missing

    May 12, 2014, 07.25 PMby Rosemary Aka-Ferguson

    Look at lekala patterns who will custom size the pattern to your measurements.

    I love Burda/VOgue patterns but adaptingthem to 6ft 1 is beyond me…I buy the pattern I want but then look on Lekala patterns for a similar garment and order this pattern using Lekalas auto-fit to your meaurements.service

    .I then use this correct fit outline pattern to compare and adapt the standard pattern to my fit. Leakal patterns are so cheap its well worth the money to avoid a sewing diaster

  • 2013-11-28_10_32_23_large

    Jun 19, 2014, 08.00 PMby PennyMac

    This Threads tutorial on pattern grading (scaling a pattern up and down sizes) shows where to cut a pattern to add or remove height and width. You don’t have to grade both horizontally and vertically – for your tall friend just use the horizontal lines. I’ve used this, it works!http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/4368/making-sense-of-pattern-grading/page/all

    1 Reply
    • Purplefan_large

      Jun 20, 2014, 03.12 PMby purplefan

      Thanks, PennyMac, for this link! Will have to try grading up a dress or skirt to see how it works out.

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