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Making a Pattern Your Own!

Making a Pattern your own

As sewists we are fortunate. We are sewing during a time when there are tons of creative and wonderful sewing patterns available to us. We even have instant access through downloadable PDF patterns, and quite frankly, the cost of a pattern is pretty low especially if you watch for sales. So why alter an existing pattern when you could just move on to the next thing? The short answer: Fit! Getting a great fit is still hard! Yes, you can make a muslin, but even then, if the pattern is drafted oddly, or uses body measurements that differ substantially from your own, you just aren't going to get a great fitting garment. And that is what we all want - that great fitting garment that just feels wonderful on and is the first thing we reach for when we walk into our closets! I believe the answer is one that Nancy Zieman suggested years ago - find and tweak the fit on a few basic garment patterns and then use those patterns as your "go to" patterns to make different designs. I am just beginning on this journey of finding great fitting patterns that can be my wardrobe staples, but one that I have discovered is the Classic Shirt by Liesl and Co.

The Classic Shirt

I made this shirt last summer when it came out and I loved the fit! You can read about my shirt here. So when I wanted to make a summer shirt with this fun bicycle print from my stash, it just made sense to alter the Classic Shirt rather than go looking for a new pattern!

Close up of Bicycle Shirt

So what did I do?

  • Shortened the Pattern

  • Shortened the Sleeve

  • Eliminated the Dart (this creates the swing shape and I don't have a dart interfering with my tucks)

  • Eliminated the collar

  • Finished the sleeve with a bias binding

  • Added Tucks

  • Used a contrasting fabric for the collar and placket

That is a lot to do to one pattern, but you could start simply and build from there. Using a contrasting fabric and eliminating the collar do not require any changes to the original pattern. Shortening the sleeve was as simple as measuring an existing short sleeve shirt that I had and cutting the sleeve pattern piece at that length (make sure to allow for a hem or finish as I did with bias binding). I also shorted the pattern by just cutting length off the bottom rather than using the "lengthen or shorten" line. I did this because I wanted to eliminate the shirt hem curve. My other changes included adding tucks, eliminating the dart and finishing the sleeve with a bias binding. Below is an explanation of how to eliminated the dart and I will be back next week to explain how to add the tucks and finish the hem with a bias binding.

Trace off the front pattern piece.

To eliminate the dart, trace off the front pattern piece including the existing dart and shorten the pattern if you like. I have shortened it by 3 1/2 inches.

Draw a line parallel to center front from the new bottom of the shirt up to the dart point. Cut out the dart and cut up from the shirt bottom to the dart point on the red line leaving a slight hinge of paper at the point.

Close the dart

Close the side bust dart which will open the dart at the hem. As you can see, the dart is still there but now has been moved to the hem - the only difference is I am not going to stitch it closed, but will leave it open to provide the swing shape I wanted! Slip a piece of paper under the dart opening in the hem and draw a smooth curve for the hem.

Finished pattern piece

That is all there is to it - I now have my new pattern piece! I hope you try tweaking your existing patterns and even perhaps try moving the dart!

Bicycle Shirt

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