Make everything from one pattern ?

Interested in the challenge of making everything from one pattern ? And I don’t mean a wardrobe pattern !

The Pattern Review One Pattern Many Looks contest for 2016 is currently running.
For this contest, you have to choose one view of a pattern. They only allow you to make changes in fabrics and trims.
They specifically exclude doing any pattern work, apart from fitting.

Personally I find it more fun to do some simple pattern work. I know many people don’t want to change patterns, but the alterations suggested in this post are simple.

And an advantage of a DIY version of this pattern altering process is that you don’t have those lengthy legalistic discussions about what meets the rules and what doesn’t, which take up most of the contest discussion 😀

A starter pattern

Several years ago I wrote a post on using one pattern for a dress, top, jacket, vest, coat.
The pattern I used is now out of print.

This time I’m starting from Simplicity 8060, a Mimi G jumpsuit pattern.
There’s a link to a sewing video on that page.

Or use Sew Over It’s Farrah jumpsuit pdf/A0 pattern : similar, but with dropped shoulders, 4 flap pockets, and no yoke.

If a shirt isn’t your style, you could do these simple pattern alterations starting from many other jumpsuit patterns with sleeves and waist seam.
I’ve collected some of the current ones on this pinterest board.

Or of course you could instead work the other way round, and use your favourite top and pants patterns to make a jumpsuit. Make the length of the top pattern at your personal bodice length (nape of neck to waist) plus 1-2” / 3-5cm, to allow for movement. If you’d like a tutorial, here’s a video from Wonder How To.

Most of these pattern altering ideas don’t just apply to one pattern. They’re general pattern altering skills which can be applied to many other patterns as well. I’ve begun a pinterest board of some patterns that are easy to change.

Some simple ideas for what you can make from a jumpsuit pattern

(Apart from a jumpsuit !)

Use top and bottom patterns separately.

Use a larger size of the top for a bomber / blouson jacket.
Use the casing and drawstring for the waist.

Make a dress with a waist seam, by adding a gathered rectangle of fabric below the waist instead of the pants. Any length from mini to maxi. How about using some special occasion fabric ?
Several examples of commercial patterns which do that on this pinterest board.

Use the pants pattern pieces to make gathered waist pants.
Use the casing and drawstring for the waist.

For simple re-styling :
– move / omit / change shape of patch and slant pockets,
– change the shape of the collar : round the corners, or use only the band.

With very little pattern work

These changes can be made direct with the pattern tissue if you want to.
Or for more speed there are even easier methods.

Change hem and sleeve lengths – see instructions for lengthening and shortening the pattern tissue, given on most pattern sheets including this one.
If you’d like more detailed advice, there are detailed examples of lengthening and shortening in this post from Tilly and the Buttons.

Lengthen the top to make :
shirt / tunic / shift shirt dress without waist seam.
Use a size larger for a shirt-jacket, longer for a duster.

If the top pattern is the same width all the way down from underarm to hem, you can just mark the added length onto the fabric when cutting, with no need to change the tissue. (Well, I need to check that’s big enough for my hips !)

Lengthen or shorten the sleeves.

Omit collar / cuffs / sleeves.
Make sleeveless tops, vests and sleeveless coats.
Add a bias binding or bias facing to the remaining edge.
Or make a facing pattern, see about 3/4 of the way down this post.

Shorten the length of the jumpsuit pants to make a romper.
Shorten the pants used without the top, to cropped, capris, bermudas, shorts.

For speed shortening, just fold back the unwanted part of the tissue when cutting. Though only if the side seam meets the hem at a right angle (see ways of dealing with other angles below).

With a little more pattern work

For these changes, it’s best to trace the pattern and work with the tracing.

Change neckline.
Here’s a post on changing necklines.

Close front of top to make a pullover top
Here’s a post on closing the front of a pattern.
Extend that to a shift dress.

Or add a variety of half plackets (henley, polo, zip – see this post for links to instructions for sewing these).

To make a skirt from the pants pattern – lengthen downwards from the vertical part of the crotch seam.
Use the casing and drawstring for the waist.
(Going from pants to skirt is much easier than the other way round.)

I’ve extended the stitching lines in this example, as I tend to make my own patterns without seam allowances. You can of course extend the cutting lines.
Remember to add hem allowance.


That diagram is just the first step, marking side seams and hem position.
The next step is to make the hem a smooth line, and for that the hem and side seam need to meet at a right angle. So if your pattern piece has sloping sides, you need to curve the hem shape. Find a line at right angles to the sloping side that meets the hem about 1/3 the way along, then smooth the wide angled join into a curve.

For slight angles between seam and hem, there’s a much simpler ‘hack’ – just straighten out the tapered seam in the hem area.
(the upper horizontal line and centre vertical lines in this photo are pdf pattern join marks)

Hmm – what about a coat ? Use 2 sizes larger of a lengthened top pattern, and add a lining 😀
See this Threads magazine download book on drafting and sewing your own lining patterns.

This post focusses on all the things you can do to make different garments from one particular pattern.

This post used to end with a section listing some other sources which show how easy it can be to alter a pattern.
That section has expanded so much, I’ve now made it a separate post on Simple pattern alterations.

If you love patterns, this can be a fun thing to do 😀

– – –

Pattern and links available November 2016

= = =

Explore posts in the same categories: pattern making for clothes

6 Comments on “Make everything from one pattern ?”

  1. fabrickated Says:

    Nice post. I have often made skirts from trousers, but never the other way around…

  2. Says:

    Great post. Glad you’re back. Barbara

  3. Sara Says:

    I missed the deadline to comment on the post on choosing a neckline… Can you still clarify something for me? You say “The Triumph of Individual Style is a beautiful and interesting book […] (The proportions of the clothes in this book are very outdated, so just look at the general principles for a wealth of helpful ideas.)” I read this book a looong time ago but I don’t have it now. My memory is that one of the main points was that the proportions of clothing should be based on the golden ratio. Is that the part that is outdated? I’m surprised because I’m guessing the authors would say that the golden ratio is found in nature and has been recognized since classical times! Thanks for your help!

    • sewingplums Says:

      If you see a copy of the book again, you’ll see that the clothes are very much of the era when it was written – big shoulders and slim hips. As the golden ratio has been around for more than 2000 years, I don’t think that gets dated !

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: