If you’re a follower of my blog, you know I love a good pattern hack. When I first started sewing I was totally intimidated by pattern hacking, or making pattern changes, because I was fearful I would screw up the fit or not know how to make my vision come to life. Now that I am a more experienced seamstress I am a pretty confident pattern hacker. Here, I am sharing my tips for how to successfully hack your favorite patterns.
You’ve found a pattern that you’ve adjusted to fit and just love. Maybe this particular pattern has made its way into your tried and true pattern stash. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to hack that pattern! Try re-imagining the pattern in multiple ways. Sketch out your ideas with detailed notes and challenge yourself to see how many different versions you can come up with. During the creative process don’t get hung up on the “how am I going to do this?” and instead focus your energy on imagining as many new ideas as you can. And remember you have a 14,000+ community group of super-talented curvy-sewists ready to help you day and night, there isn’t a project we can’t help you figure out!
After you’ve brainstormed ideas, trace off your pattern and hack from there. Always trace your pattern onto tracing paper, such as Swedish tracing paper, medical pattern paper, packing paper, whatever you use, first before hacking. You may go through several draft patterns before you arrive at your intended result. And make sure you’re working from a pattern that fits well (or has already been altered to fit).
Start making design changes. I like to start with simple hacks such as lengthening a t-shirt pattern into a dress similar to what I did here and here, changing the shape of a sleeve similar here, or turning a knee-length dress into a maxi dress. Once you’ve started experimenting with minor changes you’ll have the confidence to tackle something a bit more ambitious. Like a complete overhaul featured here, where I took the bodice from a jumpsuit pattern and turned it into a button-down peplum top.
Think outside the directions. When pattern hacking there aren’t going to be written directions guiding you through every step. Trust your instinct and your skill and experiment with your own techniques. And remember, seam rippers were invented for a reason, if you make a mistake, rip it out and try again. When I made my woven button down peplum top I created the placket on the top before attaching the skirt. It wasn’t until I began to attach my peplum skirt to the bodice that I realized folding the placket had to come last. I unpicked the placket, attached the skirt, serged the skirt THEN folded over the placket on both the bodice and the peplum skirt enclosing all the seams.
My favorite thing about pattern hacking is that with a little creativity you can double, triple or even quadruple the power of your pattern stash. Just imagine if you hacked each of your patterns once or twice! I for one have nearly stopped purchasing patterns (unless someone super-awesome releases a terrific pattern that I just must have), and instead focus my creativity on making changes to my existing stash to make my garment visions come to life.
I do hope you’ll give pattern-hacking a try! And if you ever need help please reach out!