Pattern Modification

Prototypes and Small Projects

I haven’t shared much sewing on the blog lately.  It hasn’t been because I haven’t been sewing, but because I’ve mostly been sewing things you guys have already seen.

My lavender sachets have been hanging out in my closets and pantries for a while now, and were losing their potency, so I decided it was time for some new ones.

  I decided to use some of my fabric.  I had some extra swatches kicking around that hadn’t made it onto my board for Quilt Market for one reason or another (color change, scale change, ect) and decided that rather than keeping them around, rolled up and not seen, I’d make them into pretties for myself.  This is my Iris Dot pattern, in the Frosted colorway.
  The other sewing I’ve been doing has mostly been working on prototypes for aerial clothing.
  I’ve been making a large percentage of my own stuff, and quite a few of the instructors have been enviously eyeing my leos and shorts, and encouraging me to make some for them to buy.
  Now, since I’ve got a lot of other irons in the fire, I may not exactly take off with a full out spandex empire, but I figured that standardizing the patterns I’m using can do nothing but save me time in the future when I go to make my own…and, if I crank out a couple to sell, it’s only a bonus.  So, lots and lots of pairs of tiny shorts to go over leggings, and a couple new leos to work out the exact fit of the leg holes and get the neckline where I want it.
  Lots of sewing, but not much to show off!

How To Sew a Leotard from Scratch (without a leo pattern)

These leotard posts sit on the back burner for a while before I post them.  I finish a coat or a normal top?  I usually photograph it and post it the same week.  This leo has been done for probably a month and a half though.  I need to work on that…especially if the giant pile of spandex I just bought from JoAnns is indicative of what I’m going to be sewing soon…

  I went back and forth on how I was going to photograph it.  It’s a leotard, so part of the functionality is that it attaches between the legs like a bathing suit, so it feels a little bit like cheating taking a picture in it while wearing jeans.  On the other hand, you guys have already seen the bottom of one of the leos I made, and I’m a little concerned it’s not going to be a sewing audience I’m going to wind up drawing if I start posting all sorts of pictures of my thighs on here.  I put off doing the pictures with the excuse to myself that maybe somebody at the gym would take a shot during my aerial class and I could use that…but it just didn’t happen.

So here we are.  Moody shot on a cloudy Saturday, wearing jeans.  We’ll pretend it’s the early 90s and it’s a rocking bodysuit.

If this is looking vaguely familiar, it should.  It’s McCall’s M6288, that I used to make this top not long after R was born.

To turn the pattern into a leotard, I used the same basic process as I did when I was modifying the tank tops into leotards.  Essentially, I left an extra amount of length at the bottom hem (though since this shirt was long to start with, it wasn’t much), created the shirt, and then modified it to fit at the bottom in the same way.  I used an existing leotard to give me an idea of how long I was going to need beyond the pattern’s bottom edge.

This is actually the first project I completed using my cover stitch machine, and I love the results.  I did a lot of detailing using the back of the stitch, to get the flat, sporty seams you see on a ton of workout wear.  Some of the details turned out better than others, but, of course, every machine has a certain level of learning curve involved.

A few notes about this:

I did not use a 4 way stretch knit for this particular leotard.

If you want to make a traditional, going to cling to the body and not-bag-out-anywhere-when-you-move leotard, you want spandex, and you want 4 way stretch.  Fabric with spandex is easy to find.  4 way stretch, not so much.  Give your fabric a good tug along both grains.  Pretty much any knit will stretch fairly well from selvage to selvage, but up and down, towards the raw edge, it may stretch or it may be pretty stable.  For a leotard, you ideally want it to stretch.  But, this was for me, and frankly, I liked the colors, and didn’t really give a damn if it fit exactly to my body 24/7 or not, so long as it kept me from getting silk burns on my lower back.

Keep in mind you’re probably going to have to alter your side seams

I used a contrasting color for binding the sleeves and neckline on this leo, and thought it’d be super cool to run a line of it up the side seam as well.  I had already made quite a few alterations to the side seams when I attached them, but having them there kept me from messing around and tightening up the sleeves after I put them on like I kind of wanted to.  I’m really happy with the side seam bands, but if you decide to add them, make sure you have your fit right before you add them!

Remember that you have to fit through the neck!

Being able to modify any top pattern into a leotard opens up a whole lot of possibilities, but keep in mind, no matter how cool that keyhole detailed neckline might look as a leo, if you can’t fit your hips through it, it won’t be wearable!

Full Length Faux Wrap Dress in Knit

  So who out there wants to feel like they’re still in their jammies while looking like they’re about to go to a black tie awards banquet?
  Yeah, me too.  Enter this dress.

  Please ignore the somewhat wonky hem…it’s far too long (I have on my tallest platform heels under there) and needs to be adjusted badly.
  I drafted this pattern years ago based off a cheapy knit dress I got from Walmart of all places back when my Mr. and I lived in the middle of nowhere.  I got compliments every single time I wore the dress and it couldn’t have been more comfortable, so obviously I needed more!
  The original dress has 3/4 length sleeves and is mid-calf length.  It’s an awesome day-to-day dress and I think I’ve made 3 or 4 for myself and probably just as many for other people.  That being said, it never occurred to me to make it full length until I stumbled across this pin.  There it was!  My favorite old dress turned into a fancy gown!
  I love the navy, but I’m trying really, really hard to pare my stash down, so I pulled out a shimmery light blue knit I’d set aside and started cutting.
  Despite the end result being so fabulous, this is a stupidly easy piece to put together.  If you can sew a straight line, you can sew this dress.  I used my serger and my sewing machine for this version, but you can definitely do it with either one independently and get a very similar result.
  Now, if you like this dress, you’ll be excited to know, I recently found out how to make PDF patterns (if you follow me on Twitter you already know that).  I have some researching to do to figure out how to do multiple sizes and what not, but I think I’m going to try and upload this (and the shorter, more daily version) as my first pattern once I get it all figured out.
  What do you guys think?  If I put the work into it, would you drop a couple of bucks to make this dress?

McCall’s M6408, Tie-less version Completed

  The wrap for my mom is done…if not fully pressed.  Bad sewing blogger, no cookie…iron your work.
  As usual, this pattern has made me happy.  The boys have been keeping me on my toes…R started crawling last week and as such G is melting down every 15 minutes or so because his toys are no longer safe just because they’re out of arm’s reach.  That means far more time refereeing and less time sewing than usual.  Thankfully this is a quick piece to throw together.
  I mentioned last week that I’ve found the sleeves on the pattern to be a bit short.  I extended these when cutting and then checked my mom’s arm length before finishing them.  I’ve found that hand stitching the sleeve cuffs gives a much more elegant look to this, and especially with this being such a lightweight fabric, I didn’t want a big honkin line of machine stitching around the wrist.
  I did worry a little bit about how this was going to fall since it’s such a light fabric, but a nice, deep, 1″ hem weights it down enough to work.
  I still kind of want to try this pattern in a woven, just to see how it’d work.  I think it could make a darling robe if it were lengthened a bit and I think it has enough ease that it’d work just fine.  We’ll see if I ever get around to it…
  I’m guessing that after 3 incarnations you guys probably don’t have any questions about this, but if you do, let me know!

Scoop Back Top (Completed)

  The scoop back top is done and I’m…mostly happy with it.  The binding on the neckline was a little tricky.  I used the same technique I’ve been using since I made the Ariadne top, and because I was working with a very stretchy knit, decided to reduce the length of the binding by 30%.  Think that was a smidge too much.  Ah well.  The back turned out lovely.
  I didn’t actually have a picture of the front of the original shirt, so I had to decide on my own how I wanted to make it.  Since I was using this black and white stripe I thought I’d channel a French sailor’s shirt and went with a bateau neckline in the front.  I’m not entirely sure it was the right move.
  I don’t think it looks bad persay, but I think all those stripes work as a handy measurement of just how freaking long my torso is…and having them start right up by my collar bone…  What can I say, I’m a looooong cool drink of water.
  To make this I started with my favorite basic top pattern.  I cut everything normally (though I lengthened the hem on the back piece so I could get that nice scoop effect) but just cut notches for where the neckline met at the shoulder seams.  I sewed up the sides and shoulders (check out that stripe matching folks) and tried it on.  I stuck a pin in the back above where my bra hits and started very conservatively cutting til I got the scoop to where I wanted it.
  My scoop back turned out wider and shorter than the one in the original…but like I said, I wanted to make sure I could wear it with a normal bra/tank top, and a bateau neckline just doesn’t look right unless it’s a bit wide.  My Mr. actually suggested adding the scarf at my waist, which goes a huge way to breaking up the “ohmigod she goes on forever” look.  I’ll probably try making the same general idea again in a solid color and maybe giving it a deeper neckline in the front.
  As always, I’m happy to answer any questions you have about how I put this together!  Leave me a comment or send me an email, I love hearing from you guys!

Yoked Top- McCall’s pattern M6288 Finally Finished!

  Hoo boy, I almost missed the deadline on this top AGAIN.  The neckline and armholes are all finished with binding and…well, I sorta am the suck with binding.  A lot of hand stitching wound up happening to fix portions where I didn’t quite catch the back portion of the binding strip.
  Then, once the top was finished, the weather gods decided to not play nice with me and rolled in some big, dark storm clouds that meant my usual spot for doing photos was dark as night.  So, behold!  New, busy backdrop…since my porch was the only place I could simultaneously get enough light that I actually showed up in the pictures and not get utterly drenched.
  So if you remember my photo from last week, you’ll know that this started out looking like a tent.  I used the same size 10 that I did for the raglan sleeved shirt, so in theory, this should have fit.  Mucking about with the fabric type is a part of the issue, but to get the fit I wound up with I had to take 3″ off each seam…for a total of 12″ circumference off of the waist.  The shoulders fit beautifully and I didn’t have to alter them at all, but ooph…
  Now for the back:
  I mentioned that I wound up having to make the back a different color because I didn’t have enough of the yellow…and originally I was a little disappointed about it, but honestly, I rather love how it turned out.
  To make sure it didn’t look utterly disjointed, I used bits of the yellow for details on the cream.  Instead of splitting the binding into matching colors I finished the entire way around the neck and arms using the mustard color.  I also flipped the facing for the keyhole around so it would show on the outside, instead of having it just finish the edge and be tucked inside.  I’m rather a lazy ne’er do well, so I omitted the button and loop at the top of the keyhole and just stitched them together using the binding.  The neck hole is plenty wide enough that a fastener isn’t actually necessary and I didn’t have any buttons that I particularly liked with the fabrics anyhow.
  So I sort of feel like it’s not particularly fair for me to review this portion of the pattern since I changed, well, pretty much everything.  Sure, I had to make massive alterations to make it fit, but I suspect that wouldn’t have been the case if I’d have been using fabric that were even remotely appropriate.  The directions that I chose to follow were clear enough and, even if some of the steps (*cough*French seams*cough*) seemed rather time consuming for an “easy” pattern, they weren’t difficult to follow.
  I love how this turned out…I’m just not entirely sure what I’m going to wear it for!  The silk I made it from was all scrap fabric, so it’s not like it’s “wasted” if I don’t wear it a ton, but with 2 small boys “dry clean only” isn’t high on the practicality list.  Ah well…maybe our next date night.

Yoked Top- McCall’s pattern M6288 (A Work (Still) In Progress)

  This top is taking me way longer than I expected.
  First off, all the seams are French seams.  WHO designs French seams into a teen/young women’s “easy” pattern?!  It’ll be beautiful inside and out when it’s done, but French seams mean no serger, so it’s taking a lot longer.
  Secondly, there’s this:
  I know you love my sexy, “I’m a Thanksgiving day parade balloon” face.
  So I mentioned last week, I’m not using the “right” fabric.  This top is supposed to be made out of a soft, drapey fabric.  The dupioni I’m using instead is decidedly towards the “crunchy” end of the spectrum.  That means that instead of draping around my body like a soft, pretty toga, it stands out from my body…like a sheet of paper.
  I knew it was going to do that to some extent, but the level it’s doing it to is rather comical.  I want this to be a somewhat boxy, unshaped top, but, uh, not this much.
  I’ll be doing some creative altering of the side seams to see if I can’t slim it down to something more in line with what I have in my head.
  Regardless of how it turns out, next week I’ll show you guys the end results…and I’ll show you the changes I made to the back!

Yoked Top- McCall’s pattern M6288 (A Work In Progress)

  Well, it’s another week that I haven’t quite managed to finish a sewing project.  The combination of the warm weather drawing me outside and the boys refusing to nap at the same time has really slowed down the process.

  There are certainly worse things.
  That being said, I’ve started work on the other shirt from McCall’s pattern M6288.
  As happy as I was with how the raglan sleeved top turned out, I thought I’d give the yoked top (top right) a try.  I may get around to the cute little racer backed dress and the skirt at some point, but there’s only so practical short skirts are with little ones, and I’m trying to keep my wardrobe wearable.
  This one is going to be a bit of an experiment.  I had some scraps of dupioni silk kicking around, one of which was an awesome yellow that I really wanted to make something out of for myself.  Unfortunately there wasn’t quite enough to cut all of the pieces for this, but I’m going to do some creative piecing and integrate it with some cream dupioni.  I’m not sure it will hang how it’s supposed to, but we’ll see! 

Brother Owl Pants

  Color is sort of my thing.  I may not have a great sense of how a pattern will work out on a piece, and I’m definitely still a bit hopeless in the kitchen, but if you need help determining flattering colors for you (or just color combinations), I’m all over it.

  Unfortunately for me, having an eye for color is a less-than-marketable skill in the area I live in.  Fortunately for me, it gives me lots of opportunities to go shopping with friends and family.
  My ma was looking for some advice on selecting fabrics in flattering colors for a few clothing patterns she was going to be making.  I helped her out, and as a thank you, she offered to buy me some fabric.  Since the fabric I’d been eyeing to make myself a shirt didn’t have enough on the bolt, I grabbed a flashy, bottom-weight juvenile print and decided to make the boys pants.
  These pants can’t decide if they’re for hipsters or if they just don’t have the time to care cuz they’re too busy at their glow-stick fueled rave.
  I am so jealous they can pull them off and I can’t.
  R’s pants are as simple as they can get.  Straight forward, 4 piece, elastic waist pants.  I’m not opposed to the idea of sewing things for him, despite knowing he’s going to grow out of them in a month, but I’m also not about to put hours of work into it.
  G’s pants are a bit more elaborate.  He’s growing, but mostly just up, so I can leave myself a nice deep hem in the legs and let them out as need be.  Besides, assuming they don’t get worn to absolute shreds by this little boy, they’ve also got a whole second run coming when R gets to be G’s size.  They’re still the same ol’, same ol’ pants with pockets I’ve been making him for forever now, but for these I added an extra detail.
  Because this is such a busy print, I wanted to outline the pockets so they didn’t just fade into the design.  I happened to have some neon green cotton that worked with the print perfectly, so I made up some bias tape and sandwiched it into the seam when I sewed my pocket in.
  G loves all of his bright, highly patterned clothing and these don’t seem to be an exception.  I predict that they’re going to be a part of many, many eye-bleedingly clashy outfits to come.
  As always, if you have any questions about anything I’ve done sewing these, let me know!

Spring Plaid Pants (Little Boy’s)

  Back in mid-February, G and I took a trip to JoAnn Fabrics. I needed buttons and bias tape for projects I was working on so I thought I’d take a chance on his behavior, even though we were closing in on the witching hour.

  G was surprisingly well behaved and Simplicity patterns were on sale for a buck a pop, so we sat down at the table and started browsing through the pattern books.  He was determined to start from the beginning, in the adult women’s section, so I told him to let me know if he saw anything he thought would be particularly pretty on me.  This is what he picked out:
  Hmm…yeah…  There’s me, 9 months pregnant… I smiled and told him that, gee G, that IS a pretty dress, but I don’t think it would fit Mommy (especially since Mommy has, never in her whole life, had the hips to fill out that dress).  His response?  “Oh, well, after baby brother is born you’ll get little again and then it will be beautiful.”  …why do I have the feeling I’m going to get talked into making this ridiculous dress even though it won’t fit right and I will have absolutely nowhere to wear it?  (G’s suggestion as to where I wear it, by the way, was “dancing with Daddy, and I’ll come too!”…smooth talking little monster!)
  We managed to leave the store without that particular pattern, but as he continued browsing G eventually got to the children’s section and found some pants he liked.  They were pretty basic pajama pants, so I asked him what it was he liked about them.  “That they’re stripey!” he told me, so, since he’d been so well behaved, and since I knew, come spring, he was going to be needing some new pants anyhow, I took him over to the clearance fabric and let him pick out some fabric for new pants.
  These are a modified version of that same old Simplicity 2526 pattern I’ve been using for ages, just a bigger size.  He has been threatening a growth spurt for weeks now and so I figured making them extra long and cuffing them while we needed to was a smarter move than getting 2 weeks wear out of them!  His legs get longer all the time, but his waist doesn’t seem to change much.  Makes for easy alterations for me.
  Pockets are an absolute requirement for this little boy (he’s always aggravated when his store bought pants don’t have them) so I added a set using this method, but making them extra low so that I could simply fold over the excess at the top instead of adding a separate waistband.
I didn’t design the pants to show his underpants like a little thug,
 but that camera in his pocket is heavy!
  This is a really lightweight cotton, so I’m guessing that rough-and-tumble 3-year-old will probably be putting a few holes in these before he grows out of them…but with the already patchwork design, mending them inconspicuously should be a snap.
  He’s happy with them, and I’m loving that he’ll have warm weather clothing that won’t require me to sunscreen his little legs…those legs move too fast!