"You frequently discuss your use of TNT patterns. Could you do an entry on your blog about the process you go through to make a TNT pattern and then use it in a variety of ways (for those of us out there who are a bit vague about the process). Do you make the TNT pattern by adjusting the paper pattern or do you make a muslin with all the adjustments and then use the final shape of the muslin as the basis for your TNT pattern, either copying it onto paper or using it as is? Hope that makes sense. When you make variations of your TNT do you do up another pattern with the variations or are you spectacularly clever and skilled enough to just use the pattern and make adjustments as you go? I'm really interested to know as I'm working on having a basic set of TNT patterns (pants, skirt, dress, top/s and some kind of jacket/overshirt) and am a bit bemused about which path to follow. Would so appreciate some of your wisdom."
...and Barb asked...
"So these vintage patterns when you alter them, how many muslins or fittings do you have to have to get them to fit correctly?"
Since these questions are similar in nature, I decided to use them as the basis for the next two blog posts. If you are interested in how I work with my TNT patterns, stay tuned. However, if this isn't interesting to you, please feel free to check back in a few days!
Okay so I have two TNT dress patterns. The first one is Butterick 5932 which is out-of-print (OOP) and it's the main one I reach for when I have a new idea or I want a basic sheath dress. This is the pattern that I've made the most renditions from and the one that I would grab if the house was burning and I could only take a few things!
This pattern has been in my collection for about 10 years...and I've used it so much and so often that it is now a lay it down on the fabric, cut it out and sew it pattern. However, Sandra is asking how I get them to this point.
First a little background...
I don't muslin. I know that this is the prevailing wisdom and I'm not saying that you shouldn't muslin...I'm just saying that I don't. I understand that this is opening up a can of worms but before a heated discussion takes place based upon which side you are on...please understand this is what I do. And I firmly believe that each and every sewist should make their own decisions about how they want to sew based upon their individual needs and their sewing experience or lack thereof.
I am sure you are wondering why I don't muslin. It is because I took a series of fit classes with Cynthia Guffey where she taught a method of flat pattern measurements that changed my world. I mean that weekend with her rocked my sewing world...and I took these classes...almost every one she offered at a sewing expo that were so full of information and from a totally different perspective that I had been exposed to. Also she explained it in such a simple way that I grasped the concepts from the beginning...
I went to the expo with a really good friend and when we came home we took the extensive measurements that Cynthia recommended for each other. Periodically, I have my daughter redo them for me so that I am always working with the latest ones. The measurements are in her book, "Cynthia's Precision Measuring & Pattern Alterations." I even wrote a blog post about it in February 2008 called, "How I take Measurements."
If you are interested in learning another method of flat pattern measuring for fit, I strongly urge you to try Cynthia's method. As I said before, it changed the way I sewed. So, I don't muslin and the next uncommon fitting camp I'm in is the wearable muslin camp. I know, I know...again I'm flailing against the prevailing tides...but let me state my case, okay?!
To me the first time you wear any garment you've made, it is a wearable muslin because even if you've fitted it perfectly and you've chosen the right fabric, lining and interfacing, you can't always predict "The Wearability Factor." Again I stress that to me, you don't know how that garment is going to behave under normal conditions until you've spent several hours in it. What works on the dressform, while you are trying it on and taking a few pics in it or for that matter in the dressing room, does not necessarily work during your normal day's activities. And you have a choice to make at the end of the day if it doesn't meet the wearability factor...make it again and improve upon the things that bothered you...or let that pattern and garment go. But either way, it was a wearable muslin...
That was a lot right?! Can I add one more thing before I get specific on the changes I made to my TNT dress pattern? Every pattern I use doesn't become a TNT. Sometimes it's because the vision I saw and the garment that was constructed don't jive. Sometimes it's because the garment I make is soooo distinctive that to make additional outfits would be too repetitious. And mostly I try to make TNT patterns out of basics...a skirt, a pair of pants, a dress, a jacket and a top or two. Those are the basic cornerstones of a good wardrobe and will take you far when attempting to construct an entire sewn-by-you wardrobe.
Also my TNT's go through alot of fitting smidges...smidges because I'm always adjusting a little here or a little there to get "the perfect fit." But I have to caution you, the best TNT patterns are the ones where you are willing to keep working at it, to keep changing it, to continue to "see" new things with it and the pattern doesn't bore you. TNT patterns in my book are not for the fickle or faint of heart or someone that likes change and new challenges...but again these are my opinions only and shouldn't be taken as gospel...they are just my gospel! *smile*
My next post will be about the journey of how Butterick 5932 changed from a calf-length empire waist dress into what it is today!
p.s. All the dresses pictured in this post are from B5932 - my TNT dress pattern