Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Pattern Hacking Simplicity 8376

This is my interpretation of Simplicity 8376, and how I turned the pattern from an ordinary top into something unique and special. A Jaycotts.co.uk post 

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  DEFINITION – Pattern Hack [pat-ern hack]: to modify or write a sewing pattern in a skillful or clever way.

I read a lot of blogs and some people think that if they have merely taken the hem up by  two inches they have created their own pattern hack. In my opinion a good pattern hack totally changes the appearance of the original design to make it individual and very different . It could be anything from creating a different sleeve or adding a lace overlay but  it has to significantly change the appearance of the original garment, so with that in mind I decided to have a go myself.

This is the pattern I used, it is  by Simplicity and  can be bought from Jaycotts Simplicity 8376
It is specifically designed to introduce you to the world of pattern Hacking and gives a couple of ideas on how you can make the top very different from the original. By all means give their suggestions a go, but once you have done that try designing a version yourself, maybe adding a flutter sleeve with a gauze overlay or by adding lace inserts etc. The suggestions are endless.

I wanted to create something entirely personal to me, so armed with my sketch book and tracing paper I set to work.

Choose the size which most closely resembles your own  measurements and mark it on the pattern.
If you look at the pattern envalope it instructs you to choose a stretch fabric. You will notice that there is a guide running down the side of the pattern telling you how to ensure that your chosen fabric stretches enough. It is important that you choose a fabric which has enough stretch in it or you will not be able to get it on!

If you are doing something different with your pattern then it is a very good idea to trace each pattern piece off into a sheet of pattern paper . Jaycotts have a few different options for you to choose from at the beginning of this page Pattern paper The paper I used is by Burda. This pattern though does contain a huge sheet of tissue paper so you can use that if you prefer.
Find a large envelope and once you have traced off your pattern, including all the pattern markings, carefully fold it and put it away in case you want to make it again  in the future. I can never get my pattern back into its original envelope can you? So I keep used patterns in plastic envelopes.

I use these Prym pattern weights to hold things in place whilst I trace my copy . These pattern weights are incredibly useful, especially when you can't or don't want to use pins Pattern weights
You will note that I have transferred all of the pattern markings from the original into the new copy, including the triangles which are used for seam matching.

To enable me to decide how the garment was going to be altered I needed to make up the pattern exactly as it was. Using some spare fabric I cut it out " as is" . Then I stay-stitched the neckline, stitched the sleeves in and then sewed the side seams. I did not finish the seams or add any facings.
 This is called a Toille, or Test Garment. I made it up in a similar weight fabric with the same amount of stretch as my intended fabric, but I used a much cheaper quality which I keep purely for this purpose
I tried it on and decided which elements I liked and which I wanted to change.
The first thing which was obvious is that it has no shape to it. I had to decide then if I was going to add darts or to add shaping to the side seams. I pinned various options and in the end decided that as I was going to embelish the front that taking in the sides seams and creating shaping at the waist was my best option.
The neckline is not flattering for me and it needed to be lowered by at least an inch. And the sleeves needed to be longer.
I then played around with lace and trimmings trying to decide what would look good.

Once I had an idea in mind I got my tracing paper out and made another copy of the pattern, this time making some alterations to it.
One of things I wanted was an A-symetrical hemline and in order to achieve this the front and back pattern pieces needed to be cut out on a single layer of fabric. When you have made the first side of your new front and back pattern pieces flip them over, aligning centre fronts and backs and copy the same markings making onto the new pattern.

I drew a line from one side to a point about four inches lower than the other side and created a front which is dipped on one side. This can be adjusted later if necessary. Make the back pattern in the same way remembering to mirror the shaping on the hem.

Taking the original sleeve I marked the centre. Then I drew sloping lines from the underarm down to my required length. It is easier to do this if you mark the placement and width of the sleeve hem first.
Using the neckline of the front and back I cut out facings. You could always use Bias binding instead if you wanted.

When working with stretch fabric, the most stretch needs to go across the garment not top to bottom, so take your fabric and pull it both ways.
When you have figured out which has most stretch then start to pin your pattern pieces on with the stretch going across the body.
Transfer your pattern markings onto the fabric in the usual way.

I decided on appliqué as a way of adding interest to my very plain fabric. My previous blog post  How to Appliqué - using my embroidery machine. explains exactly how I did it and what equipment I needed, it's worth reading!

If you do not have an embroidery machine then you could hand appliqué or use purchased motif's.
I placed three of these flower designs on the front of my garment. Odd numbers always look more visually pleasing

In order to stop the shoulders from stretching out of shape during wear it is necessary to stabilise them. I love this iron on seam tape as it is quick and easy to use and has many other uses too. Prym Seam Tape Cut pieces the length required and iron them into the wrong side of the back shoulders using a pressing cloth to avoid leaving iron marks on the fabric.   Pressing Cloth

Thread is important too. A stretch fabric needs to be sewn with a polyester thread. A cotton thread will just break, even as you are sewing it, and if you see large spools of thread for  a  pound of so then don't waste your money! Good quality thread is essential for great results!
 I like Gutterman sew all thread Gutterman sew all thread
An alternative for sewing stretch fabrics is this one, Mettler Seraflock thread. It stretches and so enables you to sew stretch fabrics with just an ordinary straight stitch.

When selecting your stitch you will probably be bewildered by the amount of stretch stitches on your machine. I'll let you into a secret, I don't use them, I stich stretch fabrics with a narrow zigzag stitch and it works fine. If you want to you can of course use a special stitch, it is your choice, but if your machine does not have any stretch stitches it isn't a problem.

After completing my applique I stay stitched the neckline and stitched the shoulder seams. Some people do not bother to finish the seams when sewing with some stretch fabrics, but I like my garment to look good on the inside too so I use my overlocker.
I decided to face the neckline with the same fabric as my flower applique. This happens to be a woven fabric which is fine to use so long as the neckline is wide enough to go over your head!

I also use a walking foot. In fact I find this foot so fantastic that I quite often keep it on the machine for ages even when sewing wovens.
The walking foot for my Bernina comes with extra foot plates for edge stitch and stitching in the ditch and another foot plate for quilting, , these are useful for so many projects and I do use them a lot Walking foot for Bernina Machines
There are other walking feet for different makes of machine - I also have one for my Brother machine, do take a look and if you have any questions then contact Jaycotts who will advise you on the correct one for your machine Walking foot - various makes
Contact details are at the end of this post .

An overlocker is an invaluable piece of equipment. It makes neatening seams quick and easy and can be used on its own to sew some fabrics together. Some models, including this one make a beautiful narrow rolled hem
Jaycotts have a good selection of overlockers so do take a look, Overlockers if you need advice then telephone or pop along to the showroom for a demonstration. I am fond of Brother machines I must admit, but as with all things your own personal needs and budget are what is more important, so do think about the benefits of each of the machines before making your choice!

I like the way the applique adds interest to an otherwise very plain top and I have to admit that I like the dipped hemline.

Three-quarter length sleeves are my favourite so I am happy with that decision too. I was thinking that maybe I could next time insert a sheer sleeve and make it wider at the bottom, maybe even adding a flounce at the hem of the garment in the same fabric.
Pattern hacking is addictive once you start! The best place to start is with a toille as I did, but then look at what fabrics you have and play around with them until you have a design you love.

I hope that you are inspired enough to purchase this pattern and have a go at pattern hacking yourself. It really is fun!
I really do look forward to seeing your interpretation of this pattern. Whatever you make you will know for certain that there is not another one like it!

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