Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Savvy Seamstress - What's it All About?

I'm reposting from the C&T Publishing blog (with their permission), an excerpt from my book,  The Savvy Seamstress: An Illustrated Guide to Customizing Your Favorite Patterns. I've included some of the photos and added some annotations to to help explain a little more about how it all works.

“I’ve always been a garment maker. I was a child who made doll clothes, a teenager who was obsessed with sewing my own clothes, a fashion student, a designer pattern maker, and then a pattern designer and teacher. I still make most of my own wardrobe, often using the same small selection of basic patterns that I adapt with different fabrics and design details. I’m lucky to have a strong background in pattern making and sewing, but, as a teacher, I know that even relative beginners can learn to make the most of their pattern stash this way.

When I began teaching at a fashion college, most of the pattern-making and industrial sewing resources I found were pitched at a higher skill level than my students had. I had to break down the processes into small, achievable steps so my students could make the garments they designed. It occurred to me that the average home dressmaker could benefit from the same information.

By learning how to make a few key design alterations, you can keep transforming your favorite patterns— adding or removing collars and pockets, changing neckline shapes, and swapping a zippered back for a button front, a waistband for a facing, or vice versa. The variations are endless. I hope that this book gives you the inspiration and the confidence to try some of these changes, and that you are amazed by what you can achieve.”

The skirt started out in life with a waistband, and now it has a lowered waist with a facing. The same could be done to the pants in the photo at the top. Zippers can be swapped from back to front to side, and invisible zippers and lapped zippers can be used interchangeably. The pants could have a fly front.

These little blouses (above and below) are made from the same pattern. Apart from being on different sized kids, they look different because the design features have been changed. The one above has short sleeves, a lowered neckline and a rounded Peter Pan collar, and the one below has a higher neckline with a pointed collar, and long sleeves, gathered into a cuff. There was also a collarless version.

By adding a skirt, the little blouse could become a dress... and the front buttons could be swapped for a zipped back... 

...which is what happened with a heap of tween/teen dresses. Necklines were changed. Collars and pockets were added and removed. Zippered backs became buttoned fronts, and vice-versa. The one dress became many.

Mens' and boys' shirts were also tweaked with different collars, cuffs, pockets and sleeve lengths.

Classic styling can become casual, and even pajama styling... all from the one pattern.

The book itself does not contain the patterns, because it's about learning basic techniques to tweak the patterns that you love and want to expand upon. 

I had great plans to get the patterns for these garments all finished and ready to accompany the book, when it is released in November, but (insert one-woman-show-work-life-balance-(with-curveballs) story here..), that development has been slow. 

I'm currently working on instructions for the pants, which are graded from size 6-20. If you'd like to test the instructions and fit for me, I'll have them (to use for free) at my next class at Cutting Cloth, on the 18th Sept.

I also have skinny pants in size 8, a large men's shirt, a size 10 girl's dress and size 5 in the blouse and classic (boys') shirt. These have not been graded, but if you would like to make them IN THESE SIZES and with my guidance rather than written instructions, you can do so at my classes at Cutting Cloth over the next few months.


kitty0313 said...

I would love to be closer and to test a pattern or two via your Cutting Cloth classes....! However, at a distance, will wait with anticipation (and excitement!) for 'the book'. It's a great idea - and much needed - for those of us who are confident enough to make a simple garment, as drafted, but insufficiently experienced to move beyond that point. I am really looking forward to the publication date....

Dianne said...

Looks good Nikki! I am always looking through my collection of mostly op shop bought patterns, and trying to " tweak " them to make something else - sometimes successfully, sometimes not! So proper instructions ( as opposed to my pure guesswork!) on how to do this would be wonderful!!!

Blogless Anna said...

You know how I love to pattern test for you. I'd be happy to help anytime after the first week in Oct... when I'm home from an epic OS family adventure.

A Peppermint Penguin said...

just the sort of thing I needed when I was garment sewing!

good work Nikki.

MyLittleBlueDog said...

So lovely to see a post from you. I love the trousers, I like trousers with side zippers and even though I used to sew a lot, my clothes and clothes for my friends children, I grew out of the habit as people are not very appreciative of the effort. I would never think to try to put a side zipper into a pattern that had it at the front. I am very keen to see the book. I thought about the class and checked the details, and it was Kellie from Don't Look Now... I missed her when she dropped off the internet or so I thought over five years ago. It must be my lucky day. I wish you every success, I just know the book will be great as your patterns are so well written and have the most wonderful, and I think they should be obvious but don't appear to be to me, tips and tricks.

Nikki said...

Thank you all, for lovely comments and encouragement! xx