Sunday, February 20, 2011

Versace Inspired - Pattern Alterations

This is always the most challenging part of interpreting a garment whether it be designer inspired or from a catalog...the pattern alterations.  What makes it easier is that I start with a pattern that I know fits as evidenced by the 42 different dresses I've made from this pattern.

I used a lot of tracing paper and tape to achieve these alterations and I'm alot more confident in the alterations to the back of the pattern than to the front...

So here is the sequence of pattern alterations I made:

1.  Traced a right and a left side of my TNT dress front pattern.  These two pieces were then taped together.

2.  The first design detail I made to the traced pattern was the side eyelet circle.  To figure out exactly where I wanted the circle to go I held the taped pattern piece up to me and marked where my side hit the pattern.  Then using the scientific method of placing a saucer midway through the side cutting line, I traced the saucer's edge for my circle.

As an aside, all of my tracings were done with a pencil first so if I didn't like the way it looked, I could easily erase the markings and start again.

3.  The main squiggle line through the bodice of the dress was the most challenging part of the pattern alterations because this is what gives the dress the style distinction IMHO.  I drew this line several times, erasing and refining it before I was satisfied with it.

I relied heavily upon my iPad during this process.  Propping it up on the cutting table with the picture of my drawing enlarged so that I could just glance at it to make sure that I was following my vision.  At other times it was the picture of the actual dress...however, it was invaluable during this process!

Lastly I traced over my pencil markings with a black sharpie marker...fully committing to my design choice...*shew*

4.  Cutting the pieces apart and adding seam allowances proved more challenging than I thought.  I had to go back and lay the original pattern piece over the sections more than once to make sure that everything fit and worked like they should.

Can I also state here that in my opinion, you should always use your original pattern piece as a guide to make sure that your new cut up/revised pattern still fits.

I also used different seam allowances for different sections of the front.  The side circle piece has 3/8" seam allowances.  The main squiggle pieces have 5/8" seam allowances.  I did this because on one of Audrey's posts (Sew Tawdry) there was a discussion of how a smaller seam allowance allowed a curved piece to lay flatter.  This is my first time using this technique and I'm sure that it will insure that the eyelet circle will insert flatter and more easily into the dress.

5.  The back pieces were up next and compared to all the work I did on the front ~ a breeze to change.  Probably because there is just one seam separating the eyelet fabric from the solid fabric so it was just a matter of determining where I wanted it to go. 

I went back and forth over whether or not this seam should be affected by the side circle piece and finally decided that the front and back pieces should be different to get the maximum design effect.  Now I've watched the model walk on both the Style and Versace sites and I ended up interpreting the back the way that would work best for me.  I'm sure if someone else attempts this exercise, they would come up with a different solution.

6.  So after the backs were cut apart, seam allowances added (5/8") and placed back together to insure that they fit, the pattern alterations were done. 

But I have to tell you that this dress is alot more complicated than anything I've attempted before and there is a nervousness associated with committing these pattern pieces to the fabric.

Here's a pic of the pattern pieces all cut out waiting to be pinned to the fabric...

...and here is the pile of fabric, notions and lining waiting to be transformed.

Finally, I usually put a DVD of a favorite TV show in while doing these pattern alterations.  They allow me to have some noise in the room while I'm working, yet not distract me - as in sitting down in front of the TV to watch the program - because I've already seen the episodes.  So does anyone else do this?  Or do you need total silence when working?

Next up...the construction always, more later!


  1. Very interesting, I'm looking forward to reading your next update

  2. I think this is going to look fabulous. Personally I don't like any distraction of tv when sewing. But having said that I haven't tried watching an already seen show.

  3. I think this is going to be a great dress!!! I also put in dvd's of either a movie or tv shows I've already seen - also need the background noise to be able to concentrate....

  4. Great point made on doing the tight curves with a smaller seam allowance.

    I turn on the music, usually Pandora, when I go down and sew. Or I "listen" to food TV.

  5. Oh, this looks very nice...very nice.
    Yes, I like to have the TV on. My latest thing is watching TV shows I missed when they were popular (recently got Netflix).
    I am on Season 3 of Desperate Housewives, and quite entertained. I like a story you can follow without having to look up too often.
    Mad Men is impossible to follow while I am sewing.

  6. Looks like you have thought this through brilliantly! Like you I like to have some background noise when I am working on something.

  7. I just know that this dress is going to be fab!

  8. Oh this is going to be a great dress, waiting to see the final result. I like to have some background noise as well, TV or music.

  9. Sounds intriguing Carolyn! Will definitely be watching for the finished dress.
    I was looking at your link of the 40 dresses and I think my very favorite is the one you have above your profile photo.I absolutely love that one.

  10. All my pattern work is done in a TV free room so I can talk myself through the whole process and ask myself questions like "did you add the seam allowance" and "what about the curved upper back correction and sway back reduction". If I was watching TV or playing music I might forget those important features. I'll bet you talked a lot through this latest process!!!!!

  11. very cool, Carolyn. It's so interesting to watch your process.

    I absolutely have to have company while I sew. And, yes, I either want something I've seen or somethng I don't care that much about. For example, during Fashion Week I have QVC on.

  12. Great progress shots! Nine out of 10 times I work in silence. Occasionally I'll listen to music. But TV background noise destroys my concentration. Also, it kind of depends on what stage of the sewing process I am in whether background noise is on. Once I am in the actual sewing stage I can listen and enjoy. Fun question.

  13. Sometimes I listen to the television or music and sometimes I have total silence. Sometimes I like to pop in a sewing video and listen while I sew. If something catches my attention, I backup and really concentrate on what is being demonstrated. Waiting to see how your dress comes out.

  14. I can't wait to see this dress, I love seeing your process.

    I have to have noise usually it's TV but sometimes music.

  15. I watch tv shows I've already seen before while I sew. I have every episode of Sex and the City in my iTunes. I love the clothes and how they style outfits. I get inspiration from the fashion eye candy. When my daughter is home, I play Glee or Grey's Anatomy or The Practice. I record them during the week and use them as bait. She likes those shows and she will wander in to visit me if she hears them playing. Shy - don't tell her......

  16. Good planning. I can't wait for the next instalment.

  17. This is exactly how I'd make the changes to the pattern - nice to see the whole process in action.

    I have to agree on the seam allowances. I'd also mark match points at several places along the way for both pieces, statystitch, clip the curves and then match the pieces, using the match points. Yes, smaller sas, do help.

    Finally, no noise. It distracts me when I'm really designing, drawing, etc. I get too focused on what is going on, the details of it all. Music is the worst, because I'm listening to all the parts or how each instrument's part works with the whole, etc. Not good. If I'm just sewing easy stuff, it's isn't too bad, I can usually listen to one child practicing piano and the other practicing flute at the same time, totally different pieces and not go crazy. Can't wait to add trumpet to the mix in the fall. LOL.

  18. This is fun to see coming together! If I was making it I'd add the swirl piece as an applique right on top of the main fashion fabric and then I'd cut away the fashion fabric underneath. For the edges of the applique I'd use silk organza and a balloon applique seam technique to keep the edge turned under perfectly.

  19. I can't wait to see this version of your TNT. And you showed the steps you are taking very nicely.

    I usually have the radio or TV on when I'm working in the sewing room. I really should get a separate TV and turn the computer off (TV tuner is on the computer), as having the computer is my downfall. As in, "I'll just check this blog (or SG or PR)while I'm thinking on that". Next thing I know it's 45 minutes later.

  20. Can't wait to see the finished dress. I really enjoy how you see a design feature and incorporate it in a new way. It's very inspiring. As for noise, I don't mind music or TV, but I can't stand to be interrupted! It destroys my train of thought and that's where I make mistakes.

  21. The dress is going to be very interesting. Everything looks good so far. Regarding your question: I require silence, always have. Then I talk aloud to myself as I work through construction steps and problems. My husband no longer wanders in asking who I am talking to. It's Me, of course.

  22. You are so clever. Honestly, I am amazed at the impressive way you work. Your mind for alterations surpasses anything I could ever hope to achieve. It is inspiring and I am going to try my hand at it....on a tiny level of course. Thank you.


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