Adapt or Buy?

Have you ever got to the point when you’re looking at patterns and thought that you could get the same dress by tweaking a pattern you already own?

I bet quite a few people have, but do you actually do it?  What would you prefer to do – spend the time tweaking a pattern you already own or shell out for a new one?

I’ve been looking around on Etsy and eBay for scooter skirts, or skorts – shorts with an overskirt.  In this very narrow field there is little in the way of variation; your choices are basically this:


or this:

Do a search for ‘vintage shirt dress pattern’ though and the variations are amazing!  Pleats on the bodice, vertical and horizontal, collar styles and sizes, sleeves and their million and one forms, skirts…

I am increasingly ‘franken-patterning’ to make the garment I want.  My dress for Harry’s Christening and my current shirt dress project are the two that have really shown me the possibilities that open up when combing patterns.  I can take the elements that I love / want and combine them into one garment.

The next logical step up, I guess, from mashing two patterns together is to redraft part of the pattern, or draft new pieces.  I’ve started adding Etsy items to my favourites based on a design detail rather than because I want to buy them – they’re there as future inspiration.  My intention is to take an element I like such as a sleeve or collar and add it to another pattern that I own to make whatever is floating around in my head into a reality.

The vintage patterns that have mini drawings of the pattern pieces on the back are particularly useful in this regard.  They’re great should a piece go missing as you know what you’re aiming at, but they’re also fabulous as a starting point for that perfect bloused sleeve with a deep cuff…

Click on the Simplicity 8698 pattern above.  This pattern’s been sold now but you can see the technical drawings of the pattern pieces used to make the garment up.  I find this really interesting and useful.

I’m not sure whether using the images shared by someone, with the intent to sell the item, in this way is really fair though.  Could I get the same information else where?  Should I or is it OK to use the images even though I’m unlikely to buy the pattern?

However, if it looks like there’s an unusual or interesting construction technique, I will shell out for the pattern.  I’ve just bought a scooter skirt pattern (Simplicity 9332 for £2 inc P&P) on eBay; it’s the wrong size and would need grading but my motivation for purchase was actually to see how the overskirt is attached to the shorts.

I want to learn about the mechanics of it all so that I can apply it myself to create my own version of the garment, with my ideal elements (short design, length, etc etc).

What’s your take on all this?  Do you like mashing patterns together or would you rather just sew the garment as designed with your fit alterations?  Have you tried drafting – your own original designs or using a technical drawing as a starting point?  I’m curious!

Hurrah! Finished Objects and Drafting Plans…

OK, confession first.  I can’t add the pictures at the moment because the camera is being stupid (or I’m failing to operate it properly!) and we’ve lent our little point and shoot to a friend who broke his camera.  Hurrah, I’ve got some pictures to show you!

I finished my navy crescent skirt.  I made a muslin of the waist band and it was waaaaaay too big, even though I’d done all my math properly.  I triple checked it.  So I pinched and pinned and removed 2″ from the waist band and transferred this to the pattern pieces by removing 1/4″ from 8 places (CF, sides and CB).  I then happily cut my fabric and made up my skirt.

And gosh darn IT.  The waist band is still a little loose and keeps dropping lower than I’d like.  I’d like the top of the waistband to hit at belly button level.  I could take another 1″ out quite comfortably.  I know I’m working on losing weight and toning up but this is ridiculous (although in a good way – I’d be grumpy if it was too tight!).

I’ve worn the skirt for the last couple of days for work and it’s very comfy.  It’s now in the wash, but once it’s clean I can bore you all with pictures of it.  I’m really pleased with how the inside turned out in particular as I used a red wine coloured bias binding to finish the waist band and as a seam binding on the hem, french seamed the sides and pockets and turned and stitched the centre back seam.  It looks really neat!

Top Stitching
Bias Bound Facing
Bias Bound Hem and Turned and Stitched Centre Seam
French Seamed Side Seams

I love the style and it’s easy to wear, even chasing after a toddler.  I think the next one I make (and I’ve ordered the fabric!) will be shorter though and hit above my knee rather than just below it.  I’ll also try and sort the waistband fitting issue out too.

Fabric for my second Crescent Skirt, Japanese Slubbed Cotton

Construction wise, I’ll apply the interfacing to the fashion fabric before cutting the pieces as I made a bit of a mess of my ironing board cover when fusing the cut interfacing to the cut fabric.  It’ll also reduce the amount of cutting out I have to do too.  I think I’ll probably apply the zipper before sewing the back seam too as the inside of my zipper insertions always look a bit messy.  If anyone has any advice on how to make them look neater, I’d love to hear!

Casey’s post on drafting the circle skirt also went up last night, so I’ll be playing with pencils, rulers and a pair of compass tomorrow.  Can’t wait!

Drafting Toolkit

Drafting Basics

Casey posted a while ago asking what our sewing related questions where, and I responded that I’d love to know what her drafting kit was as it’s something I’m beginning to explore.  Well, she’s only done a whole blog post answering my question!!!  Have a read here.

I’ll have to see if I can find something similar to the banner paper and examination paper over here in the UK as everything I’ve sewn so far has needed some sort of adjustment (normally a FBA).  Plus I like to trace my patterns and use the tracings, leaving the original wholly intact.

Since asking the question my kit has expanded a little and now contains:

Tape Measure
Yard Stick
French Curve
Tracing Paper
Sharpies in a LOT of different colours (they were on offer in the Back to School stationery at the supermarket)
Paper scissors
And of course, a pencil and eraser!

And, take note of this:

“This seemed a particularly apropos question to address, since I’ll be doing a little pattern drafting instruction in the upcoming circle skirt sew-along. (Don’t worry though, you won’t need all these tools—I’ll give you a supply list when the time comes!)”

Sounds like fun to me!