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Aug 8, 2012

Problematic Placement of Design Motifs or "No Bullseyes, Please!"



In the 1960's, a lot of people did drugs, which is the only explanation I can come up with for McCall's 8190, above.

Look, everyone loves a good border print, but some motifs don't belong "south of the border," if you get my drift.  The best comment came from a Pinterest follower (this pattern is in my Worst Women's Patterns Ever board) who dubbed this "Fruit of the Womb."

I raise this topic today because I had a little fabric design motif issue myself earlier while I was working on my 1940's swimsuit.  I decided, after a good night's sleep, to make the swimsuit in the same floral fabric I'd used for the facings and hood lining of my beach jacket.  Nobody feared looking too matchy-matchy in 1942.





The only problem with this fabric is that it is very thin, so I decided to underline the whole thing with an old cotton sheet, which gives the fabric much better body.  It turned out well (this is just the outside, mind you, not the lining I discussed the other day with the crotch gusset); the suit feels very sturdy.





The design is basically a short slip with princess seams.  You've seen patterns like this for sure: there's a front, a back, a side front and a side back.  Rather than go to the trouble of regrading the pattern (I needed a 36" but the pattern is a 34"), I placed the pieces atop a slip pattern I'd made last year for a cocktail dress for Cathy (the green taffeta with the lace redingote), and traced the wider edges.



I cut my fabric carefully (I thought) but when I took a closer look at that front panel, I noticed that one of the flowers lands nearly smack in the middle of the...middle.  I mean, you can basically reach into the center of that flower and pull out lint.  Thank goodness it's not as low as the strawberry!



I didn't know what to do; I didn't have enough fabric to cut a new front panel.  Here's what I came up with: I cut the center panel down the center and stitched it back together with a narrow seam allowance that widens slightly right around that flower before it narrows again.  Fortunately there was enough room in the waist area to accommodate this.

The fix may not be obvious in the photo below, but it makes all the difference.

Before (the "problem" flower is dead center):



After (there's a new center seam and what looks like a narrow daisy):



Sometimes it can be hard to conceptualize how a fabric design is going to look on a garment, or where a particular motif is going to land.  Or maybe you're just not paying close attention when cutting (guilty as charged).  But boy, when it lands where you don't want it — breasts and crotches are the worst, with ass cracks just behind (no pun intended) — you know it.  Sometimes you can fix it and sometimes you can't.  That's when it's nice to own a big brooch; sadly those are uncomfortable to sit on.



Readers, has this bullseye thing ever happened to you?  It doesn't necessary have to be a bullseye, it can also be an unfortunate repeat of a motif too close to the same motif elsewhere on the garment.  This stuff is tricky!  Or course, there are people who like having bullseyes in provocative places.

Finally, what is up with those wacky Sixties border prints?  Would you put a cat motif (upper left corner)— there?



Have a great day, everybody!

35 comments:

  1. Ingenious flowerectomy!

    Clever re-use of the cocktail dress pattern.

    Can't wait for Cathy's big reveal!!!!!!!!

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  2. I can't stop laughing at the placement of the cat! I made a knit dress a couple of years ago with a large design and I thought I'd placed the motifs very carefully to avoid any strange placements. It wasn't until after the dress was made and I was about to wear it that I noticed a design within the motif (made worse my the way I'd cut and placed to avoid another mishap) now made a large arrow pointing to my cat region.

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  3. hahahaha the only answer to the location of the cat in that pattern is that the pattern illustrator was smoking something he shouldn't have been. Hilarious!!

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  4. Frankly I didn't think the flower at your navel was THAT a big deal; it wouldn't have bothered ME. As for the shorts, I think those two little flowers on your butt are CUTE. The REAL problem would have come if those two flowers had met in the MIDDLE of your butt seam! I also agree: you couldn't get away with that low-down cat applique in THIS day and age! And that giant strawberry does look ridiculous!

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  5. I once made a little black dress out of stretch flock velvet. The "flocked" pattern was very subtle swirls, black on black obviously, but when I put it on I realised one of the flocked shapes looked exactly like a .... Um... Item of manhood....and it was exactly where that item would have been if I was indeed a man. One very costly mistake.

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  6. That cat should have been high on the center of the back of the shift dress, now that would have been purrfect!
    Jeannie

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  7. [insert pussy joke here]

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  8. OK, that strawberry is funny and weird, but that cat placement is HIGHlarious!!!

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  9. Oh how I love the 60s. In a similar vein of the strawberry, here's another pattern I've been laughing at: http://www.etsy.com/listing/84990097/sassy-mod-60s-gonk-skimmers-shift-dress

    Not a fruit, but rather a small creature. Yup.

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  10. I thought you'd peaked with the strawberry but the cat is priceless - my stomach hurts from laughing! I managed to cut a top which, having put in the darts, had 2 matching flowers directly over both nipples, but fortunately had spare fabric :)

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  11. This reminds me of the day my mother in law wandered in to the garden in her new cardigan which had swinging tassels over both nipple areas - I've never laughed so much!

    The flower over the navel I could cope with and I love the shorts too however, those 60's prints are hilarious!

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  12. Well having learned the hard way as well, I can say is that a single layer layout helps a lot. When I've had this problem is tends to happen with a conventional folded layout. Also I almost never use the layout recommended in the pattern instructions. I also mock up the layout at least one and really study where the motifs end up before I cut. Sometimes in addition to everything above I cut the seam allowances from the pattern so I can see how the motifs hit the seams. On a print with motifs larger than about 2 inches it makes a big difference.

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    Replies
    1. Yes! I forgot to mention that that center panel was cut on a fold, and I didn't pay attention to what was actually being cut.

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    2. Yep - I learned the hard way that just because you avoid getting the item smack dab in the middle of a breast does NOT mean that you won't get it in the offending spot on the other side. So, single layer is the way to go. Definitely.

      Delete
  13. The badly placed motifs aren't limited to sewing at home ... saw a lady last night who had a swirl-print top with big circular swirls, and you can just guess where two of them landed. Oh myyyy, as George Takei would say.

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  14. I always tell my sewing students the story of my poor mother. Back in the early 70s she and Dad were awarded a prestigious trip to Hawaii. My mother, ever the frugal seamstress, decided to make herself a new swimsuit special for the trip. She order some lovely Hawaiian floral print double knit and a pattern. When the suit was finished she was mortified to realize that there was a very large floral motif in a very delicate area. I now refer to this suit as the "Georgia O'Keefe bathing suit".

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  15. Have you finished the hat? How'd it come out? I made one for my hubby, in terry cloth, and it was too floppy for him. He sweats a lot and uses it like a sweatband. We used to be able to buy them in XL from Vermont Country Store, but they've discontinued them. He has about three left that are getting really ragged, and I need a solution badly! Thank you.

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  16. Rowan, the yarn company, has a motif-pacement offender in its fall 2012 collection:
    http://www.knitrowan.com/designs-and-patterns/patterns/harris-0

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    Replies
    1. Wow, that one has breasts, navel and genitalia all in one!

      Gave me a giggle!

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    2. I'd love to see this promoted as a shirt to help you teach anatomy.

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  17. LOL - Oh my. I'm paranoid about unfortunate pattern placement and a bit fearful of prints to begin with. So, I've pretty much avoided disaster. I don't think yours was as bad as you thought - bellybuttons are pretty innocuous.

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  18. I made a blouse once out of this small floral print. Admittedly, it was one of my first tops, but I really didn't think pattern placement would be an issue with such a small print. Didn't notice any issued until I took photos for my blog, and then I couldn't ever unsee the happy face a certain grouping of flowers made, especially since there seemed to be one on each side of my chest. :\

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  19. In order to avoid a bird beak pointing to a particular place I had to cut my circle skirt in several pieces and then gave up on matching the print. When Is ee the mismatched print though instead of seeing an eyesore, I think of how much worse it would have been with the bird beak.

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  20. I managed to avoid placing some big polka-dots over my bust apex on the last top I made - I used some tracing paper to help mark my "actual" bust-points on my pattern paper. See my tip for how to do this on my Pinterest pin here :) http://pinterest.com/pin/154318724702327014/

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  21. I always think I'm being careful with my cutting layout for prints and then, bad things happen. I had to recut a blouse a couple years ago that had one giant rose centered DIRECTLY over the nipple. On the other side was a smaller rose just slightly below the nipple, so not only did I have bullseyes over both breasts it looked like one of my boobs was sad and deflated and droopy.

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    Replies
    1. Now sitting here snorting with laughter.....

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  22. I still love the flowers on the tushy

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  23. I adore larger prints, and have a fair number. I actually have one almost like your swimsuit fabric, in cotton batiste. I am a bit fearful about the issue of unfortunate motif placements. On a similar note, I cut a slip dress, on the fold, and a large flaw was on one breast. If it had been near hem, etc., the dress could have been saved. Best to mark the flaws with thread tacks, and cut in 1 layer, not 2. Cathie, in Quebec.

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  24. Well, the placement of the cat is clever if one is trying to be sexually humourous I suppose.

    But I LOVE the strawberry. I would so wear that.

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  25. That triple vertical floral on the Simplicity... guh, like a narrative of the Lady Love Canal, or Visit Your SEcondary Sex Characteristics!

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  26. I went to a gig in Belgium where the lead singer was wearing trousers made from a Disney fabric. All terribly clever and ironic, until I realised the placement was just so...it looked like Mickey was climbing out of her, um, lady garden.

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    Replies
    1. That makes me think of this (blush).

      http://www.funnyjunk.com/funny_pictures/1441205/Pinocchio/

      Delete
  27. I don't comment frequently, but striped trousers are a huuuuuge culprit of this effect. You cut the rise even the tiiiiiiniest bit off-grain, and when your pants are made up, you have giant chevrons pointing at your junk. Nothing for it but to try again, or add some sort of peplum to the top garment.

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