Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My TNT Dress Pattern

I received this email from Sandra...

"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!

More later...


p.s. All the dresses pictured in this post are from B5932 - my TNT dress pattern


29 comments:

  1. Great post and nice to see these dresses again :)

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  2. Very interesting & informative post, Carolyn. I am looking forward to part 2!

    BetsyV

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  3. Very interesting post, Carolyn. I agree with you about the wearability factor. I've made the Go Patterns 4001 dress several times and it fits me well, but after wearing the first one, it wasn't quite right. The next one I made in another fabric. After another version, I found that by lengthening the bodice about 20mm I had a more comfortable dress, something I could not have known until I wore it because the pattern fits my measurements perfectly. Everyone one of us has a method that works for us, but I really gain a lot from reading posts like this because I often learn something I had never factored in before. Thanks for taking the time to do this for us!

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  4. Thank you for a most informative post.

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  5. Great post Carolyn! You have really done some great things with this dress!

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  6. Thank You, Great Information. I think I am not going to make as many muslins. I make the muslin i do not like how it looks and NEVER make the garment. Hence I have the fabric I purchased for the great looking garment that never got sewed and the fabric is in my closet. I am looking forward to part 2

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  7. The first time I read your blog you were talking about TNT patterns. I didn't know what TNT meant then, but I'm glad I know now. This is an excellent post and I'm looking forward to POST #2.

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  8. Thanks for the insight. I am going to look into the book because time is very limited for sewing and it would be nice not to have to make a muslin for everything.

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  9. Wonderful info. I sewed a TNT jacket today!

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  10. Carolyn, thanks for sharing this information. It is so helpful. Looking forward to Post #2 too. I bet the people you work with are always watching to see what fabulous new outfit you have made.

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  11. I am with you on "wearable" muslins. I recently made a great knit top (Jalie's sweetheart top) and found that it was great until about 2/3 of the way through the day. Then my fabric was so loose from being warm and worn all day that I couldn't bend over without exposing my chest!

    I know I can adjust this with the next top in a similar fabric by using slightly larger seam allowances in certain spots and trying our clear elastic on the front neckline band.

    I would never have thought of this until I wore that top all day.

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  12. Doing a happy dance here as I managed to buy the oop butterick pattern when I first started reading your blog. The funny thing is a lady had on a really beautiful jacket and dress Sunday that looked identical to the one picured on the envelope and I remembered this classic pattern of yours. I am all for the tnt discussion on the blog. Any lining info would be great as well. That's my weak link if no lining pattern is given. I am in the process of ordering the Cynthia Guffey dvs-glad to know her classes had such an effect on your sewing. Maybe the dvds will be helpful to me. mssewcrazy

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  13. I love your philosophy. I sew for many "regularly shaped" clients who do not understand about fit. I love the way you fit yourself and tweek a pattern to give you just what you want - can't wait for the next post....and it is all about the fit!

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  14. Very interesting post.
    In the past, I knew well my measurements, and knew what to alter on BWOF patterns.
    Right now, I've lost a lot of weight, and don't visualize myself properly. In addition, I've discovered Vogue Patterns, and don't know yet how they work for me, so I started making occasional muslins, when I know one measurement or the other may be a problem, or when having to make a real fly like for my last pants, as an exercice. But as a rule, I don't fancy muslins and hope I can soon overlook that step :-)

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  15. So interesting to read this post right now as I'm trying to create some TNT patterns for myself. I went back to look at the measurements and found a few I haven't yet included in my increasing number of measurements I've found that I need to adjust patterns. One measurement I've found is exceedingly important is the distance from the centre front to each of my bust points. I've discovered that one is not always symmetrical! Very few measurements charts include this information. Looking forward to reading part 2
    Thank you for sharing.

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  16. Great post, Carolyn. I totally agree about the wearability factor. I have made many things that seem to fit fine, look good, but I end up not wearing them because of that very thing. I really want to work on a couple of TNT dresses for this summer.

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  17. Carolyn, you are a gem, thank you so much for sharing. Can't wait 'til the next "episode". OllieV

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  19. It is fascinating to see your process and I find that your variations are wonderful. I have 2 tnt patterns, pants and a t shirt both of which I have changed and altered, so that like you, I am not bored and because I have a number of time consuming fitting issues. I am intrigued by Guffey's method, so I went over to her site. The booklet I am willing to shell out for, but the dvd's are rather expensive. She has 9 videos of the measuring process that she is asking 34.95 each. That's a lot of money without even any info on how long they are! Do you have any of them?

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  20. I'm going to show my ignorance. What does TNT stand for. Since I sew many for my little ones I'm out of the loop, but I am thinking about - still- sewing for myself again!

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  21. I am so happy that you are doing this! $ are hard to come by right now and didn't dare to spend them for the class you told me about.You are an inspiration.

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  22. Fantastic Post. I so agree with your take on the wearable muslin. I read your post yesterday and it so hit home. While talking to a friend yesterday about my jacket, she mentioned that I was being too anal. I told her despite all the work that went into making the jacket, what counts is how it will wear throughout the day and days to come. I broke it down to her - it had to fit comfortably over my suit and provide ease as I move around, able to handle the pull of my tote bag on one shoulder, the pull of my pocketbook on the other, reaching for the straphanger on the train, buttoning/unbuttoning the jacket and so on. By the end of the day yesterday, I am glad to say it met the wearability factor. I'd plan to give the pattern a rest, but I marked it as a TNT.

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  23. Well said, Carolyn. I love this post and you have inspired me to be more selective and organized when it comes to calling a pattern "TNT". Every version of your Butterick dress is outstanding and unique in itself. Thanks for sharing this valueable information.

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  24. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience. This information will definitely be put to good use.

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  25. San Antonio SueApril 15, 2009 5:38 PM

    Back to the Sex and the City dress: in Spring 2008 Burda Plus is listed Burda 425 which is a dead ringer for that dress minus the "belt" across the midsections. With the warnings about the large neck on the Vogue, you might prefer to look for this one. The drawing looks quite reasonable...

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  26. I also am a "Cynthia Guffey groupie", and even when using her measurement system, she recommends making muslins. I often buy $2/ yard fabric on sale or at WalMart, lots of yards, and baste a muslin. If I need to make an adjustment (upper back curve), I can use CG's "slash and tape" method on the item to figure out how much to alter. Then, I rip out the piece and put in a new one, until I have it just right. I also make the same adjustments on the pattern pieces to avoid having to rip the muslin apart. One problem I always fight is applying those tiny changes to the pattern so the next one comes out right.

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  27. Great post, I am looking forward to the next one.

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