Wednesday, March 31, 2021


Pattern Hacks

Recently I spent a lot of time fitting a pattern for a top for me and writing down each step of the process so I could do a presentation on fitting for the Lansing Chapter of the American Sewing Guild.  I think I got more out of the presentation than anyone else!  It was an eye-opener for me.  It proved to me the benefits of fitting a pattern and then making changes to that pattern for additional garments.  So much time can be saved by simply making changes to a pattern that already fits you instead of fitting a new pattern each time you make a different garment.  Of course, I knew this, but rarely took advantage of the fact by actually doing it.

I used Simplicity pattern 8061 and posted the instructions for fitting on my blog.   The pattern was a short sleeve top with bust darts and a jewel neckline.  Shortly after finishing that top, I decided to make another one using the same pattern, but did not have enough fabric.  I decided to cut the front and back pattern pieces apart and make yokes out of one fabric and the bottom of the front and back out of another fabric. 

Without realizing it, I was doing a pattern hack.  A pattern hack is making changes to a pattern that creates a different design from the original pattern.    It might be making a simple change like making the garment longer or shorter or you might use sleeves from a different pattern; or maybe you make a top or blouse into a dress or move bust darts to the shoulders or neckline.  There are many, many ways to change a pattern to make it your own.  This is much simpler than fitting a different pattern each time you make a garment. 

I decided to hack Simplicity 8061 at least one more time.  I wanted to do something different to the sleeves this time.  I recently purchased McCall’s M8161 pattern because I liked the different sleeve options.  One of the options offered was a wide pleated band at the bottom of the sleeve.  A picture of the pattern envelope is shown below.

I decided to make two changes to my Simplicity pattern.

1.  Lower the high jewel neckline in the front by ½ inch.

2.  Add a pleated band to the sleeve.

The first thing I did was make the neckline lower.  I measured down from the neckline at the center front ½ inch and then used a French curve to extend the curve from the front up to the shoulder seamline.  I did not take much off the side front neckline; most of the lowering was done at the center front. 

Change no. 2 took the most time to do.  I made a mockup of the sleeve and band before I cut them out of my fashion fabric.  I used some tan fabric from my stash to make the mockup. 

I knew the sleeve needed to be shorter if I was going to add a pleated band to it.  I measured about 2 inches down from the armscye at the side seam and drew a line across the sleeve.  I cut off the bottom portion.    I wasn’t sure how wide to make the pleated band, so I looked at the McCall’s pattern and saw that band was 11 inches wide.  I made the length of the band about 2 times the width of the bottom of the sleeve.  I sewed the two small edges of the band right sides together.  Then I folded the band in half lengthwise with the wrong sides together.  I basted the raw edges together.  I pinned the pleats in place using the markings on the McCall’s pattern.  When I checked to see if the pleated band was the same size as the edge of the sleeve, I noticed the two pieces did not quite fit together.  The band was a little too small.  I adjusted each of the inverted pleats by 1/8 of an inch.  Then I was able to sew the pleated band to the right side of the bottom of the sleeve.  A photo of the mockup of the sleeve is shown below.


 To decide if I liked the look of the sleeve, I pinned it over a sleeve on a top I previously made with simplicity 8061.  I liked the look, but did not like the length of the new sleeve.  It came to just below my elbow.  I decided these sleeves might look better on me if the pleated band was narrower.  I decreased the width of the band pattern piece by 2 ½ inches.  A picture of the completed top is shown below. 


So far, I have sewn three different tops from Simplicity 8061.  I think my next project will be to convert this pattern to a blouse that buttons down the front.   I enjoy the process of sewing different tops without having to take the time to fit a new pattern.  I will let you know how my next pattern hack goes.

I hope you are working on a fun project!









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