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Jul 9, 2014

"Just the pants, ma'am"

I have a very bad habit.

Maybe it's laziness,  but when I "frankenpattern" -- was that term invented by a sewing blogger? -- I never record the changes I make so if I want to repeat them in the future, I have to start from scratch.  Well, that's not entirely true: I take pictures.  But even then, if I need to remember how I did something, I have to go through hundreds of photos and try to recollect my process.

Wouldn't it be easier to take notes along the way and keep them in the pattern envelope?  YES!

Wouldn't it be easier to trace a new pattern that includes all the changes I made?  YES!

But I resist every. single. time.

UPDATE: I just realized why I resist: I won't know until the garment is done whether I like the results of the "frankenpattern" or not, so I don't want to invest the extra time taking notes.

For the pants I'm working on (the ones that will match the navy herringbone jacket), I wanted to use the McCall's Williwear pattern I showed you yesterday (8536).  But the pieces turned out to be too wide and I didn't have enough fabric.  I had just enough for a pair of Kwik Sew jeans, but I didn't want jeans pockets or a back yoke.  So I "frankenpatterned," combining the elements I wanted to use from the Williwear pattern, like the single-welt back pockets and slant front pockets, with the more narrow silhouette of Kwik Sew 3504.

Here are the slant pockets (I'll probably add a bar tack to reinforce the edge):

Here's the front fly:

Here's a single welt back pocket (I may add a buttonhole):

Consistent with my lazy ways, I used the same serger thread on the seam allowances that I'd used on Cathy's red rayon dress.  It's all on the inside anyway, right?

I'm almost done with the pants, believe it or not -- I just have to attach the waistband and belt loops, add a waistband closure (I'm partial to buttons), and eventually hem the bottom.  I usually leave the final hem job for after I wash the pants a few times.  For photo shoots, my pants are generally just tacked up.  That way, I can take into consideration the many comments I receive criticizing my pants length! (he he)

I never did make it to the Garment District today as I lost all sense of time once I got these pants underway; maybe tomorrow.  If I'm having my jacket done at Jonathan Embroidery, I may also have them do the waistband buttonhole -- that one's always a struggle due to thickness.

And that's it.  I hope to finish these tomorrow, along with the jacket.

Do YOU keep track of your "frankenpattern" combinations and alterations?  (And if so, how?)

Have a great day, everybody!

(Try to spot Doris's stunt double!)


  1. Yes. I got tired of recreating the wheel every time, so I write all changes directly on the pattern, along with the dates of the edits.

  2. Do I? No. When I do, I never revisit that pattern combo. When I don't (the self drafted pants with an off seam pocket), I make them over and over again. Or I leave myself the wrong cookie crumbs as instructions, and have to rebuilt the monster AGAIN. I usually just get out the last version of the item and compare/contrast the pieces/pattern pieces and measure them.

    And it's always pants.

    Someone will come along here and 'splain this. Meanwhile, I'll be in the bar.

  3. I've only just started keeping very detailed notes about each make. It's tedious but I grew tired of having to start from scratch every time.


  4. I usually start with a tracing of the pattern and then alterations are mostly folds where I take length or width out. I mark those with lines and tape into place. If I do something like move or enlarge a dart, I've traced in pencil so I can make the change. I may never come back to the pattern or I may forget that I had made changes but at least if I do remake I should get the same result.

  5. My frankenpatterns tend to be a combination of actual pattern and taped on paper that I've drawn on, and when I'm done, that's what gets folded back into the package. For quilts, I tend to draw what I'm doing and figure out the cutting scheme (how many of which piece/size etc.) so after the top is pieced, I stick it in the book I adapted it from in case I want to make another one. I don't really take a lot of notes on either, but it would certainly make the whole thing easier if I did.

    The slant pockets should be really flattering, so I'm looking forward to seeing you model these.

  6. I always use a freshly traced pattern, so I keep the old ones with dates on them. Each basic pattern is kept in a large manilla envelope with all of the successive changes. For pants, I use an evolved Kwik Sew 3267. Its envelope currently hold five sets of patterns that have evolved from the original. I like the front a little narrower than the original; I have cut the length of both front and back by 4 inches; I have moved the back pocket (I like only one on the left) up 2 inches. The most recent pattern is now the one I always use.

    I also keep notes on scraps of paper, or on the instructions themselves. Always makes me feel like I am improving when I don't make the same mistake twice.

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  8. I love the read serger thread on the inside. You are so neat and your workmanship beautiful that you are excused from not keeping notes. I'm useless on that front too. I often wing it but fail to take either notes or photographs. At least now that I blog about my makes, I write about all the specific changes I've made to the patterns, which I do as much for myself as anyone else, so I can go back an remember what I did in the first place. I know I should make more notes though...

  9. I never have and I really should. I'm sewing more and more for my daughter who is 4' 8" at 15 and it would make my life easier if I kept track of what I'm doing. I will make this my Mid-Year Resolution! Thanks for opening my eyes on how I can improve :)

  10. am am terrible at recording changes i make to patterns, even the one for fit. i keep a notebook and pen by my sewing machine, but i always get so caught up with the sewing that i never stop to record anything. and i keep telling myself that i have to start taking notes! also, i think the red serger thread looks really good. i am a sucker for hidden details.

  11. I don't either but I definitely should. Recently I made a dress for the second time, forgetting that I'd added 2 or 3 inches to the hem the first time and ended up having to give it to my daughter as it was too short for me. I like that some people are calling your red serger thread a design feature. That's what I will tell anybody who asks when I'm too lazy to change those cones - I can't get the hang of doing it without re-threading the whole thing and that way madness lies.

  12. I put pattern etc into clear plastic ziplock bag after l use it. Then I add a v small piece of material l've used and write all pattern changes on a really bright post-it note( bright so l see it next time) and put that into the bag as well. Saved a few repeat disasters or hassles.

    1. That's exactly what I do, down to the color of post-it note and brand of freezer bag (gallon size, so it holds all my traced pattern pieces and the tissue that won't ever fit back into the envelope). Were we separated at birth?

  13. I never manage to have the discipline to take notes as I go but I do try to reflect the changes on the pattern before I put it back in its enveloppe...

  14. Over time I have gotten better at this. I generally take the original pattern and draft another. I have been using large craft paper to retrace the size. Further, I do detailed measurements and make sure I put all the markings on the pattern.

    I would love to have the space to take the pattern draft and hang it on hooks but I bundle it all up with the original and put in a big zip lock bag with all the notes, It makes it easy if I want to create the same thing again,

    I think at some point, I will just use slopers/blocks, sketch and create my looks. The patterns I find the easiest to work with are multisized like Burda, love their patterns with or without seam allowances.

    I have been finding that pattern drafting, sizing and fitting are the most time consuming. The actual garment construction is the easiest part. Getting something right the first time (without doing a muslin) is a real challenge.

  15. I'm sorry but was there really a pattern range called Williwear? Giggling away with childish humour as it has a different meaning in the UK! Can't wait to see the finished suit!

  16. I take notes on 5" x 7" little legal pads (the pages fit wonderfully in pattern envelopes) and include a swatch of fabric and date. That way, I can quickly find the appropriate notes, usually identified by the fabric.

  17. Well, considering most of the time I don't use commercial patterns but make my own, I usually do my frankenpatterning by pulling a sheet of newspaper from those ads that end up in our mailbox, and tracing a new pattern piece. It's all part of the process. Sometimes, though, I have a hard time distinguishing the preliminary pattern pieces from the final ones after the fact. :D

    I like your slant pockets. I'm working on trousers where I also decided on slant pockets and am in a slant-pocket-liking phase.

  18. I HATE to trace but, when I go off road (most of the time these days), I keep close records. It's too much effort to waste. In a way, I'd rather waste time (potentially) than effort (definitely).


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