Tips for Adjusting Crochet Patterns

By Rachel Choi – 6 Comments

Most of us crocheters have worked with a crochet pattern at some time or another and thought it would be even better if the finished size was smaller, bigger, or just slightly different in some way. Some patterns will tell you how to adjust the pattern if you choose to adjust it, but others do not. Brave crocheters can venture into adjusting the pattern on their own, but there are others that aren’t quite sure how to go about it. Truthfully, there really isn’t a golden rule to follow when adjusting a pattern. How to adjust will always depend on the pattern and how it’s written. Here are some tips that may help you out along the way:

Count stitches and rows. The number of stitch and the number of rows/rounds is like a measurement for the width and length of the crochet piece. Sometimes adjusting a pattern is as simple as subtracting or adding a few stitches in a row to adjust the width, or subtracting or adding a few rows to adjust the length. Just be careful to check that you’re removing the correct number of stitches if your pattern is written in repeats/multiples.

Look for the repeats/multiples. A lot of patterns use a repetitive stitch pattern, were you are basically crocheting the same series of stitches over and over until you reach the end of the row. When you wish to subtract or add stitches in a pattern, you must know how many stitches are used in the repeated section of the pattern. To determine the number of stitches that are used in the repeat, try to find the symbol that indicates the repeat. For example, lots of pattern will use asterisks * * or brackets [ ] or parentheses ( ) to encase the section that contains the repeated instructions. Within the repeated section, you can count how many stitches are used, and then can subtract or add stitches accordingly.

Find where it increases or decreases. Depending on the pattern you’re working with, there may be sections that increases or decreases the number of stitches on a row. Try to look for abbreviations such as inc, dec, tog, or multiple stitches being made into one stitch. The increases and decreases can be found at the beginning/end of a row, or strategically staggered throughout.

Experimenting is key. As mentioned earlier, there isn’t a golden rule for adjusting a pattern. Being able to transform a pattern into what you desire comes with experience and a lot of experimenting. Try what you think will work, whether it be removing rows and stitches or adding more increases, and see what happens. The more you experiment with it, the more you’ll learn.

Always be willing to start over. There’s nothing wrong with trying something, having it not work, then having to take it apart. Stay patient and keep up the experimenting, even if it means you have to try again with a different technique. If you’re consistent, your work will turn out as you want it sooner or later!

Do you have experience adjusting a crochet pattern? Please share your tips in the comment section below!

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6 Comments

  1. Eve Sison says:

    Hmmm I like that, Rachel, experimenting is the key and you must be willing to start over. The moment you notice something is wrong, you must be quick enough to discern whether or not starting anew is a necessity, otherwise, it might be too late.

  2. Mariah says:

    I make a lot of super crazy adjustments to patterns when I make doll clothes. If the pattern includes a gauge and final measurement, I can take my gauge (sinse I quite often use much smaller yarn) and measurements of about what size I want the peice to be, and then figure out number to devide everything by. Often I’ll draw a picture of about the length and size of what I want the finished product to be, and line it up with the drawing as I go a long. This is really useful for making amigurumi from scratch because I’m usually too lazy to figure out gauges and number of stichs and everything…

  3. Wanda says:

    I agree that documenting changes made helps to understand later what happened if it turns out the piece is too small–or too large. It’s easier to start over if you know where you went wrong. I’ve re-started as many as three times before finally getting it right.

  4. Vicki A Young says:

    I am trying to adjust a crochet pattern for an 11 1/2″ fashion doll large enough to fit a human being (me). The crochet pattern is a reproduction of Queen Victoria’s 1840 wedding gown, and I want to crochet it large enough to fit me. Can anyone out there help me in this matter? Thank you very much for any help that can be given in this matter.

    • Rachel Choi says:

      Wow, you’re in for an adventure! I’ve never adjusted anything on that scale before. Hopefully some of the tips in this post can help you out. Good luck with it and let us know how it goes :)

  5. gloria williams says:

    Thank you for your tips. My goal is to crochet garments that fit me, versus what the pattern calls for. Someone told me to get a skirt that fits me the way i want and measure it. I know I will have to do some math. Most of the clothes I make have repeats and multiples. The instructions (tips) you just provided will help me a lot. Thanks bunches –

    WORLDS BEST RIPPER OUT AND START OVER AGAIN crocheter

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