The Problem with Patterns

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The Problem with Patterns II: The Recovery ReFashion
Flower Power Wraparound Pants

Today’s post addresses something that I find endlessly frustrating:

Sewing Patterns.

Bite me.
Bite me.

Ugh.

As you know, I love sewing! I wish I had more hours in the day/week/month/year to do more sewing.

And I wish I had enough fabric to sew more with patterns. :/

But patterns are the bane of my sewing existence, friends. I can sew. I can actually sew pretty well (always room for improvement). I can sew with a pattern. Heck, I even drafted my own when I made this dress from old Christmas Sweaters…just to prove my sewing chops to anyone who dared doubt them. ;)

See? I know how to use them!
See? I know how to use them!

However, most projects I begin with a pattern, end up more like this dress where the pattern gets abandoned at the end.

The problem for me is most clearly illustrated by this photo.

:/
:/

This is from the instructions for be above pattern. Do you see the problem yet?

The problem is, I don’t buy new fabric, but try to work with already-existing clothing like this dress.

I feel like one of the Golden Girls would have felt right at home in this.
I feel like one of the Golden Girls would have felt right at home in this.

Pre-existing clothing rarely, if ever, can be laid out in a nice panel and then snipped into the desired pieces like the instructions indicate. I could use curtains, bedsheets, or tablecloths, but I don’t usually find any of these that I want to turn into a garment.

Setting out to take apart an item of clothing with the intention of using a pattern to re-construct it takes a leap of faith. You have to believe that you have enough fabric that you can piece together in a way that won’t be ugly or weird to complete the task at hand. The reason the sweater dress worked so well is that I had six sweaters, all of similar fabric. This usually is not the case.

Plus, sewing with a pattern takes FOREVER, and unless I think the finished project is going to be amazeballs, I’d rather just do a non-pattern refashion.

But this time, I decided to go for it.

This dress appeared to have plenty of fabric for this simple pattern. I figured that once I cut open the sleeves and combined them with the rest of the fabric from the bodice, I’d have enough to make the bodice of the new dress. If not, it looked like I’d have enough leftover fabric from the original skirt to add to to it to make it work.

I opened my pattern and examined the pieces.

Oookay.
Oookay.
But wait...there's more!
But wait…there’s more!

Next, I carefully unpicked that neck tie thingy from the original dress. My plan was to create the B view of this pattern and use the repurposed neck tie as a belt.

Pick!
Pick!
Belt in waiting!
Belt in waiting!

Next, I took the dress apart, cutting open all the seams.

I was feeling pretty optimistic when I saw how much fabric there was!

Oh yeah!
Oh yeah!

I cut out my pattern pieces and got to work.

First, I cut out the two pieces for the skirt.

Cans make fine pattern weights.
Cans make fine pattern weights.

Unfortunately, when I was done, I realized I didn’t really have any leftover fabric to contribute to the top part of the dress, or the facings for the neck. :/

Cutting it close!
Cutting it close!

Next, I tried every possible combination of layout with the top pieces to fit to the pattern.

None worked. I was an inch off here, or 1/2 an inch off there, no matter how I tried to puzzle piece it together. :(

I wasn’t ready to give up! I visited my scrap pile, and pulled out the biggest one I had, even though, in retrospect, it would probably look fairly awful attached to the skirt of this dress.

Maybe?
Maybe?
No dice. :(
No dice. :(

I couldn’t believe this! I just could not make this work for the life of me! I didn’t have enough scraps that would work with the fabric/print of the original dress, and I was getting really really frustrated.

All I had to show for a good bit of work was two rectangles I cut from the original dress, and a bunch of useless scraps.

#AngryHand
#AngryHand

Do any of you pattern-using folks have any advice on how I could better guesstimate how much fabric I actually have in a garment vs. how much is needed for a particular pattern?

Come back tomorrow to find out what did to salvage what I could of this refashion flop!

Hint!
Hint!

Cheers!

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