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Stash Review: Patterns

By: Mary Reed Published: 04/07/2020 Categories: Planning, Wardrobe, SewDoIt

Oh, patterns, beautiful patterns! I love having a wide variety of patterns to fuel my inspiration and my creativity. I love seeing the different ways fabric can mold and morph into 3D shapes. Fabric is my favorite part about sewing, but patterns are very close second. It feels like patterns are bit of magic to take something so flat and change it into something that hugs me. :)

We’ve reviewed our core style, so we’re ready to start matching patterns to our vision. To start, it’s important to review your style choices and think about what designers call style lines. Style lines are what give a garment it’s overall look. It might be loose and flow-y, or it might be fitted. It might have color blocking or be all one color. There are so many different elements that make up a look, so start noting what pieces are a theme in your core style, or what your loving in inspiration pictures.

As you look through your patterns, look at the black and white line drawing provided with the pattern. Yes, the cover photo is amazing, but sometimes, we can get distracted with a beautiful fabric or a great photo set up. The lines on the pattern are made to answer the question: what’s the overall look of this pattern?

The next piece is to look at the ease on a pattern. Ease is the sewing term for how much room there is a piece of clothing. One way to think about it is to think about how much extra fabric can you pinch out of the side of the item of clothing your wearing? A lot? That’s an item with a lot of ease. Only a little? There’s not much ease in that piece.

Ease affects the look of a garment as well as how it wears. There’s a little bit of ease in everything, no matter how fitted, or you wouldn’t be able to breathe or sit down! The amount of ease beyond what you need for basic movement is design ease. Deign ease is not only how loose it fits, but whether it’s got gathers, or how full the skirt, or sleeves, or whatever are.

Most pattern companies now give finished measurements either in the instructions or on the pattern piece itself. This can also give you an idea of how loose/tight it will end up being.

Of course, you can always modify tightness/looseness through adjustments to the pattern and through fitting alterations. However, if you start with a boxy shirt, there’s only so much you can do to change the design lines of that. If you’re wanting a fitted blouse, it’s better to start with a blouse that has the design you’re looking for than to try to modify an completely different design.

As an example, I recently saw a pattern for a t-shirt dress that I thought was adorable! I immediate went to look at the information on the pattern and realized it had nearly 7" of ease! That’s a lot! I don’t like over-sized fit so I knew that I would have to modify it quite a bit to like how it wore on me and that would probably change it enough that it wouldn’t look like the model anymore. Of course, I can still make and see if I like it, but it’s no longer on the top of my list. I’ll do it when I’m in a sewing experiment kind of mood, not just wanting to make something that works right off the bat.

Style lines are your best friend in deciding if a completed garment will wear how you think it will when it’s all completed. However, as usual, I’m going to end with the usual reminder of, “If you think it will bring you joy, sew it up!” Don’t worry about getting it “right”, just do what’s right for now. Experience is the best teacher of what items you will end up loving and sometimes results can surprise you in the best way.

#sewdoit, alright??

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