Pattern hacking


flower embellished top

Flower embellished top from Jalie 2921

As I said in my last post, I’m starting to understand how you can take certain elements that worked from other patterns and apply them to new ones.

When I realized that I was in great need of some basic tops, the first thing I pulled out was my Jalie scarf collar top.  I love how it fits.  It has a nice slim fit in the arms, and the rest is body conscious without being tight or tacky.  But how many scarf-collared tops can you really have?  For me–2–one non-pregnant, and one maternity version.  But don’t toss out this pattern because the scarf is limited in use.  The scarf is just a glorified binding–change it a little and you have a v-neck.

I sometimes wonder what all of the fabric choices on the back of pattern envelopes are all about.  You have a good idea about what denim, linen, and gingham are, for example, but there’s always other suggestions that are a bit more obscure.  This top was an attempt to fill in a gap in my knowledge about one of those obscurities.

Faille.  It’s defined as a glossy, soft, finely-ribbed, silk-like woven fabric made from
cotton, silk, or manufactured fibers, especially rayon. It has a crosswise rib weave and the soft material drapes well. It is finer than grosgrain and with flatter ribs. It is difficult to launder but will give good wear if handled properly. Has a lustrous finish.

I bought this particular cotton faille with a gift certificate to Denver Fabrics for my birthday.  It’s lovely.  Lovely.  I had read all of these nasties about faille being awful to work with, but this was quite stable, pressed like a champion (hence the pleated trim that I added)

 and is absurdly comfortable to wear.  It was NOT difficult to launder (or rather my current occupation drives me to dump in lengths of fabric with whatever spit up drenched garment doesn’t pass the smell test and if it survives, hey, it’s ready to sew).  How a fabric can be dense, yet breathable and drapey is beyond me.  I’m keeping an eye out for nice faille from now on.

Butterick 5485

What I learned (besides that faille is awesome)

Repetitive altering:  Do you have those alterations that you do so much that you forget that you have to do them.  That would be short waistedness for me.  It’s pretty typical to have to take out 2-3″ in everything for me.  Yup, I forgot it on this top. Doh.  Hey, it’s tunic length–I *meant* to do that.

This is my last summery sort of sewing.  There’s a jacket in pieces in the sewing room and some warmer knits coming soon.  I’m so glad it’s getting cool enough to wear ITY again–there’s so much of it in the stash.

My full review is on Patternreview here.

I’ve been enchanted with this Burdastyle 2-2011-101 since I saw it in February.

 I love the cap sleeve, and the retro styling and it just looked cool.

I’ve been wanting to make a sundress, and as I went shopping in my stash, I came up with a nice piece of voile that I bought last year from and meant for another project that got nixed in the muslin stage.  The pattern calls for organza (cotton perhaps from the picture?), but that sounded far too warm for the 95+ temperatures we’ve been dealing with here lately.

To beef up the voile and keep down the wrinkling, I fused the bodice with Pro Sheer Elegance from Fashion Sewing Supply (lovely stuff if you haven’t tried it).  I cut out the interfacing at the waist darts which I lengthened and widened for my full bust.

Sandra Betzina was here for the sewing expo a couple of weeks ago.  I couldn’t muster up the nerve to ask her for a picture for the blog because I was so in awe of her as she poured out her knowledge and expertise non-stop for a solid 3 hours.  As she looked at my muslins, she mentioned doing a broad back adjustment for me.  Who knew?  The good news is that with that little bit extra, I don’t have to add as much across my bust!  And it does take out the teeny bit of wrinkling that I have never really noticed around the bottom of the armscye in back.  Still and all, by the time I added for the broad back and my full bust, I probably added more than I usually would have.  But again, a little extra ease helps with the heat.

As for the skirt, I was less enchanted with Burda’s suggestion of using two big rectangles and gathering them to fit at the waist.  To eliminate all that bulky, shapeless mess, I instead pulled out the skirt piece for Vogue 1027.  It hangs on the bias, and I had already fit it–well sort of…  Because the bodice is much closer to the bust in the Vogue dress and because it’s a knit pattern, I had to add at the side seams so that it fit the bodice.  I kind of guessed at 5/8″, but 7/8″ ended up being about right (I also folded out some of the flare in the skirt and added a CB seam because I despise side zippers).  I like this skirt much better–it still has a nice flow because it’s on the bias, but it lacks the bulk of the original pattern.

I wore it all day on Saturday and it kept me quite cool.  We took the boys up to Tiny Town , which is a huge collection of big doll houses–some furnished, some not.  There’s also a mini working steam engine.  Noah and Nathan rode it while Sam and I took pictures.  Sam did NOT like the train whistle, but we still had a good time.  Noah and I are here (of course) by the Opera House.

As a note, I would not recommend this dress for nursing–it’s possible, but not horribly practical.  My full review is here at Patternreview.

What is everyone sewing to stay cool?

I’d been eyeing Burda 7508 for a while.  It just looks cool.  I mean beyond the asymmetrical neckline, it just looks like you won’t expire in it in 100 degree heat.  I like the princess lines too and it seemed like a good pattern to venture out of my normal comfort realm of knits and start figuring out how to dress my changing body.  And, it’s too hot for knits.  Thank goodness for cotton and linen in the heat.

I must have been taken by the print of this fabric because it literally has the same feel as the gym shorts from my 6th grade P.E. class.  Thankfully, this top does not come with the nasty athletic girls, the teasing, and the coach with the Rod Stewart spiky mullet (no lie–Rod Stewart was her hero) that those hideous blue shorts did.  Over a tissue weight t-shirt and jeans, that nastiness can’t be felt anyhow.

Aside from that, this was an easy tunic (if you can call something that hits you at mid-thigh a tunic), and I’m so glad to have something in my preggy wardrobe that’s not colored maternity dark and bland (don’t get me started on RTW maternity lameness).

It’s done!  #3 for the mini-wardrobe contest.  This is my mish mash combo of the Jalie Scarf top pattern and BWOF 08-2008-125.  I debated about whether to do inverted pleats or just plain pleats, and the plain won out for this iteration at least.  In actuality, I finished this minus hems like a week ago, but I didn’t want to shorten it until I checked the final length with my skirt since I’ll be wearing this tucked in (gasp!).

Ah, my first draft.  There’s nothing fancy about it, but it fits, well mostly.  I really overestimated my waist and I need to take this in quite a bit at the waist.  It’s just as well since drab olive is not my favorite.  I figured this was a safe fabric to test out this pattern on though since I got it for all of 97 cents for the whole yard and a half it is.  What I do like about this skirt is that it hangs on my hips and drops straight down from there and fits my curves in a way that makes me feel feminine, but not immodest or matronly.  I’ve never been able to get this from any skirt I’ve owned and I’ve been disappointed with my own attempts to sew from patterns where skirts are concerned.  I know this needs further tweaking, but things are looking up.


I took on the challenge on the current project at Tie One On.  Make a plaid apron.  I studied an article in an old issue of Threads to gear my brain up for the task.  I drafted a simple apron bodice and decided to fit it to the front skirt of Vogue 7735, which is just a basic 8 panel A-line skirt I had in my stash.  On the pattern envelope, it of course said the pattern was “unsuitable for ….plaids…” Bah! I say!  I folded up my seam allowances and carefully pinned and cut out each section of the skirt one at a time.  Sure things aren’t on grain, but I figured…hey, it’s an apron…I can still use it, and the experience of matching stripes is more valuable than if it’s 100% on grain.

The pocket is from Colette Pattern’s Parfait that I did a while back.  I like it in plaid.


All of that being said, I’m over my fear of stripes…it’s tedious to match them, but kind of fun…like a big ole puzzle.  Sandra Betzina recommends using double stick tape instead of pins to hold things in place even more carefully when matching patterns.  Methinks I shall try this next time.


I found this dress in the midst of some of the lovely fabric I found when Nathan’s Grandma let me raid her stash.  At first I just thought it was a bit of fabric very cool patterned lightweight polyester.  I unfolded it and saw that it was not only a dress, but it looked suspiciously like it was cut precisely to my size.  Exactly.  Perfectly.  Amazing too, given that I would guess the dress is from the 60’s. It’s a Jackie-O looking style dress.  Here’s a good one on Etsy for comparison (don’t you love the jacket?!).  The scarf is a vintage Echo 100% silk scarf I picked up at the thrift store for $2.

The side seams, center front, and center back seams were sewn, plus the zipper beautifully installed (phew–I hate putting in zippers).  The darts and the faux princess seams were basted in.  The shoulder seams were handily not done at all, which gave me some room for experimentation.  I’m going to start listing my goals that I have for garments that I make.  Call it a new feature to the blog.

Grandma Williams’ 1960’s Jackie O dress

Goal:  1.  Draft my own facings to finish the neckline, back, and armholes.

2.  Make button loop closures at the shoulders so that I can still wear a dress and feed my child

Goal 1 success?:  I think so.  I recently took Pattern Review’s facings class (it was fantastic–such great information.  Facings were so confusing to me before).  With the info from the class I was able to quickly and painlessly draft my own facings that fit this garment with an unknown/unavailable to me pattern.  The dress fits me like a glove and I LOVE it.  Maybe I’ll start scrounging about for 60’s patterns.  Perhaps it’s more my style than I’ve given it credit for being.

Goal 2 success?:  I made some loop closures out of white rattail that I stitched to some grosgrain ribbon for stabilization.  They work, but the loops could be a bit smaller, and more buttons would be more fun and more secure.  Still, the loops are functional, which they need to be.  The back shoulder is a bit wider than the front because I didn’t bother measuring.  Oh well.  There’s a 98% chance that  I’ll pop a cardigan over the whole thing once it gets cooler here, so that will be my own little secret.