Ask Kat: How Easy is it to Alter a Pattern?


This is a question we’re often asked.

A customer loves our bag design BUT, wishes it were smaller…larger… had more pockets… had a different closure… could be worn on the hip… had two straps instead of one… had one strap instead of two… you get the picture! And even though I prefer giving direct answers to questions,

There really is no easy answer to this question!

pcc13alternateBetsy Bucsanyi made up our Everyday Attache in two different sizes.

That’s because not ALL alterations and changes are created equal, just as no two sewists have equal ability or expertise. Altering a handbag pattern could be as basic as adding an extra storage pocket or as complex as converting a magnetic closure to a zippered closure.
For me to answer this question I would have to consider the following;

  • Your Sewing Experience. Not all sewing experience is equal. Whether an alteration is simple or difficult is entirely dependent on the level of experience of the person involved. And just so you know…. dress-making  or quilt-making expertise doesn’t necessarily translate to bag-making expertise (or vice versa).
  • Your Design Experience. Because making one change CAN totally change the functionality of a design. For example, a magnetic-snapped bag opening can be absolutely wide enough and be totally functional, but if one substitutes a zippered-closure for the magnet, that bag opening could now feel restricted and tight, due simply to the way zippers function.
  • Your Knowledge of Construction Materials. Just because a design change CAN be made, doesn’t mean that it SHOULD be made. For example, whether a bag is designed with one shoulder-strap or two is often dependent on weight distribution. I’m sure we’ve ALL seen bad examples of commercially-made bags that looked so cute in the store, but then sagged in the middle and totally lost their shape and profile once they were loaded with your “stuff”. This problem is almost always the fault of poor design and improper knowledge & use of the construction materials.

For this reason, here’s how we routinely answer this question;

We take the process of designing patterns very seriously and we thoroughly test our pattern instructions, templates, and materials until we’re 100% satisfied with any finished product prior to the first sale. Our advice therefore, is that you use the construction materials we’ve recommended along with the templates & instructions provided in the pattern envelope to complete your project. We do not feel comfortable offering advice concerning pattern changes that we have not attempted ourselves, nor can we predict or guarantee the outcome if you use alternate materials from what is recommended in our instructions. It’s possible that you are absolutely qualified to make design changes yourself, but we’re simply incapable of making that determination for you. Good luck as you proceed.  🙂


And now…. it’s YOUR turn!

I’d love to know if you’ve ever been tempted to alter a pattern you’ve used and how that went for you? And remember, we love reading your comments and answering your questions too, so please feel free to leave either or both in the space provided below.


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7 Comments So Far, You're Next!

  1. Yes I have did this. I made a bag in it original design made the large and medium the large still was not big enough so I enlarged it myself to basically an extra extra large and I really like the way that it had came out I love the way I had the inside sewing up and everything else and then got to looking at it and it was just way too big so I ended up cutting out two and a half inches all the way around it and made it a little bit smaller not happy with the way of the construction on the inside came out but overall it was much much better after I went and cut it down so instead of doing an extra extra large I ended up with it just an extra large and I’m very happy with it

  2. As someone who is pretty experienced with both sewing (and the math involved) and alterations, I have pretty good luck with altering a pattern for most things. But I do understand the logistics of this better than most. I think that sometimes alterations may involve a complete redraft of the pattern – hence a suggestion for a new product would be recommended. That should keep you busy for a long time (lol) – but hopefully will provide a lot of interesting suggestions for additional products that could become combined with each other to produce more useful patterns. Your products are fabulous, but there is always something new that somebody needs (bigger cell phone pockets, tablet pockets, rfid protection, etc.) I think you have your work cut out for you! Keep up the great work!

    Barbara L.

  3. I can (and have) altered clothing patterns many times, but have never been tempted to alter your purse patterns. They seem just right the way you’ve designed them. Even if I did want to alter them, I’d probably not have the confidence to do more than add or delete a simple pocket.

  4. On another topic, your granddaughter is about the same age as mine, loved your journey of creating her nursery, now that she is more of a toddler than a newborn, how have you updated the decor?
    We did an animal theme, the room is mint green with white animal shadows- giraffe, elephant, and tree with monkeys – so it’s growing with her quite well, but she is almost ready for a toddler bed, would love to see how you do the bedding and if you change the curtains, too

    • Thanks for commenting Nancy Lee, but it’s honestly never crossed my mind to update her bedroom decor! I think I better update my own bedroom decor first! hahaha