Tips for Adjusting Crochet Patterns

By Rachel Choi – 11 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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  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 –


  6. Linda B says:

    I got a pattern online for a baby afghan that noted how to increase to size desired if you want it bigger. The pattern is a “corner to corner” pattern, rather than a typical row by row. I didn’t want my bigger afghan to be square, but rectangular. With the pattern for the square, you increase each row then decrease each row. So . . I decided I needed some “stay the same rows in order to get my rectangle shape. Of course, there are no directions for staying the same. I’ve done 3 (very long) rows but I’m not completely happy with the ends, where the increase or decrease would normally happen. I’ll probably have to rip out the 3 rows. The pattern is chain 3 and 3 dc in the loop formed by the chain 3 of the previous row. I’m thinking I need a few chain stitches before turning. Maybe that seems obvious but the way the directions work for this pattern, you kind of jump from one group of stitches to the next group, which is why I thought extra chains wouldn’t be needed. If anyone has any suggestions, I’m open to trying this section again. I think I’ll experiment before ripping, make sure I have something I like better before proceeding with the “do over.”

  7. Robin says:

    I have a pattern that calls for #10 crochet thread and size 8 hook. I want to use fingering weight yarn and I don’t want to change the size. The pattern does not give the gauge. Would a size 9 or 10 hook do the trick? Any other help would be appreciated.

    • Rachel Choi says:

      The smaller hook might work. I would try contacting the designer if you can to get a gauge. There’s no way to know for sure without a gauge or crocheting it yourself in the #10 thread first.

    • Sunny says:

      Most standard gauge is measured with a two inch mark..First crochet a few inches in the crochet thread and see what it measures[how many stitches] at two inches. That is your gauge.{this is standard method of obtaining gauge] then do the same for the fingerling yarn. If it doesn’t measure correctly[same number of stitches] then go up or down a hook size to obtain gauge.

  8. Sunny says:

    Wait until you see a pattern that I think was meant to be universal[different yarn weights hooks exc] and don’t have a accurate count for stitches that a gauge can even be worked from.It isn’t bad until I get to the sleeve holes. There isn’t even a way to reasonably accommodate the difference. The pattern is very old. Which is appropriate as the yarn I am using isn’t labeled the way it is today. I get to guess at size use.The yarn is forty plus years old and yes its still in good condition.I am grateful for it don’t get me wrong.This pattern is just trying my patience.

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