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.

”s8060”

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 remember to allow for the ‘turn of the cloth’ at the hem (see angle at hem of pants pattern below for an example).

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, perhaps with a variety of half plackets (henley, polo, zip).
Extend that to a shift dress.
Here’s a post on closing the front of a pattern.

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.
I’ve extended the stitching lines in this diagram, as I tend to make my own patterns without seam allowances. You can of course extend the cutting lines.
Remember to add hem allowance.
On this image I took it easy and used straight lines. But 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.
(Going from pants to skirt is much easier than the other way round.)

”skirt

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.

A few years ago I wrote a post on some patterns which show a range of other options for simple pattern and style altering. And it’s partner post on more casual styles.
Those posts are not solely about pattern changes, but there are several good examples of small changes which can make a big difference.

If you want to try some pattern re-styling, there’s no need to be daunted by one of the huge pattern making college texts. There are many simple introductions, such as :
Many ideas for what to do with a basic shirt, pants and a-line skirt in Wendy Mullin’s pattern book, Sew U.
The styling booklets and leaflets from Sure Fit Designs have clear instructions for many options, and can be used with most basic pattern blocks, not just hers.

Combine your simple pattern changes with good sewing instruction ?
The oop book Easy Sewing the Kwik Sew Way has many easy variants from tee and shirt patterns.
Alison Smith’s book Dressmaking step by step (12 patterns, 19 variations) is a selection from her big Dressmaking book (the same 12 patterns, 31 variations) (pdfs showing patterns included : US letter, A4).

If you prefer video, there are several Craftsy classes on varying design details.
Many of Peggy Sager’s webcasts are about simple but effective pattern variations. She talks about Silhouette patterns, but most of the ideas apply to many similar patterns.

Of course many people don’t want to make all these little decisions, or to make sure all the pattern pieces work together after making changes. Would much rather just find a pattern they like where someone else has done all that. We all have different skills we enjoy using when we’re making clothes.

Fit For Art patterns provide a half-way house. There are basic patterns for knit top, pants, and jacket. Then many further patterns with the pattern pieces for other styles.

Can you see why commercial companies of cheaper clothes make one basic block, and then make many small changes to give different looks ?
It’s developing the basic block which needs the main work. Then the potential for tweaking it to make different styles is almost endless.

For us home sewers, get this one pattern to fit, and that’s most of our fitting challenges sorted.

Then, if that’s what we enjoy, we can have fun with playing the changes 😀

– – –

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. barbarariches@telus.net 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: