Modify a basic block pattern

How to modify a basic block pattern

So there are so many tutorials out there on how to create basic block patterns, but there are not many there on how to use the basic block pattern once you have created it and how to adapt clothes from the basic block pattern.

I’m going to show you how to modify a basic block pattern. This was my first attempt and I must say it came out pretty well. The end result was the picture below. Because my body is so awkward, commercial sewing patterns don’t always work for me. Once I had taught myself and drew and drew with some trial and error, I came up with a design from modifying a basic block pattern I made for me that I quite like. I just need to have a straw hat with it to make the outfit complete.

The first thing I did was make sure that I had pre-drawn what I wanted the outfit to look like on a piece of paper when it was done. This was a pattern I had a long time ago when I was younger and I wanted to re-create this pattern. With trial and error, I managed to modify this basic block pattern to copy the original design I had.

The next thing is that I laid out the block pattern on a new piece of pattern paper (or in my case gift wrap) and weighted it down to make sure it was secure. I then traced the block pattern with all the lines exactly onto the new piece of paper.

To modify the basic block pattern I started by shaping the neck. I wanted my neck to be lower and a little wider. I did this with the help of the french curve pattern making tool that I have made temporarily until mine arrives from Amazon.

I then measured out from the sleeve and side the amount I wanted the dress to hang loose or be away from my body. I measured all around and then with dots, drew the lines as in the two photos below.

Once I had those lines drawn, I added to the modifying process by creating an area for button holes in the front of the dress. The button hole area I made double the amount so that the fabric can be a bit thicker over the button hole area and so that the sewing machine won’t catch the fabric up and gather it while sewing the button hole. The below image is the progress of the modifying on the basic block pattern that I did.

You see, modifying a basic block pattern is basically taking a block pattern and just drawing in what you want to have on the pattern. What you want the dress to look like. The basic block pattern itself is your exact measurements to fit you snug and you will find an article on how to make a basic block pattern in my links.

The next thing I did was work on the back piece and enlarged it the same way, a little more on the side and the back neck part too…..

I then decided that the part of the pattern over the shoulder was too wide and it needed to be narrowed. To modify this part of the basic block pattern, I measured inwards on both sides, exactly 1.5 inches both sides (I did this for the front pattern too) and drew my lines.

With a little bit of artistic ability, this shoulder can be shaped right. I made sure I made it come down far enough before taking the curve. Otherwise it would have looked a bit weird.

The next thing I did to modify the basic block pattern was to lengthen it and make it straighter. The below images will show you how I did this. Because of my awkward body, it doesn’t look that straight, but it is as you saw from the fully made dress in the first picture.

For the skirt part, I took double the width of the shirt pattern at the top and added it to the skirt part so that there is space for gathering a bit. I then realized that I didn’t have enough fabric so had to use less than what my pattern indicated but it still worked out.

The facing was a bit of a different story. I laid out the basic block pattern that I had modified and drew the arm and neck curves. I measured about 1.5 inches in and drew the facing lines.

I hope this has been helpful in teaching you how to modify a basic block pattern. As I’ve mentioned before, there are so many tutorials out there on how to create a basic block pattern, but not many on how to modify one. Since this was my first time I attempted to modify a basic block pattern, I really think I did ok. I hope this can help you too.

Enlarging a pattern

How enlarging a pattern works

I recently picked up a lovely girls summer outfit pattern at quite a cheap price. The pattern was perfect, but the size was not. First I needed to figure out how to enlarge the pattern that I bought. Once I figured that out, the rest was easy.

When you are looking at how to enlarge a pattern there are some crucial tools that you need to start with. These include a 90 degree ruler, tape measure, french curve, marker and pattern paper. Well, I don’t have the pattern making tools yet, they are on order from Amazon so in the meantime, I made my own which you can also do. I also am not going to spend a fortune on pattern paper, so I used the inside of gift wrap paper to do my pattern. In addition to that, I have a pattern marker / cutting tool and of course, my pattern.

The first thing I did with enlarging the pattern is to get all the pattern pieces I needed. The next step was to iron the pieces with a light iron so that they aren’t creased. Creased pattern pieces makes for wrong measurements. I’m someone that often use un-ironed pattern pieces, but that’s because of my experience. For enlarging patterns though, I am venturing into waters I haven’t done much of and so I want the measurements to be exactly correct. Especially if I’m going to have the pattern correct.

The next thing to do is to lay out the piece of pattern you need to enlarge on a pattern board or hard surface. A table is also fine. Trace the paper onto the pattern paper you have chosen exactly. Make sure every mark and line is exactly correct. You can do this by putting weights down on the pattern while you trace it so that it does not slide.

The next thing I did, as indicated by the figure above, is to measure the different sizes of the pattern exactly. I measured how much space between each line (indicated by the red arrow), and added double that space as I enlarged my pattern two spaces (indicated by the green arrow). I then used the french curve to hollow out my pattern’s arm hole as indicated by the blue line. The blue line is where the curve was hollowed our by the french curve, and joined to match the lines of the measurements I’ve taken with the green arrows. The other markings were mistakes which can be ignored. I did the same to the other side of the pattern.

At the bottom of the bodice pattern that I’m enlarging, I carefully measured again and once again used my french curve to draw the line, as indicated in the next image.

The french curve can work nicely when placed in the hollow of a pattern to hollow our an arm or to do something such as the bodice.

The last thing was to finish off the pattern, add all the markings and cut the new pattern piece out. Enlarging this piece of the pattern was not so hard after all. Here is another picture of another piece of pattern enlarging I did from this particular pattern.

It is easy to do some enlarging of a pattern. You just need to add the exact measurements to each size enlargement that you do and the pattern will work. You also need to use the french curve to perfect the arm holes and the other curved pieces of the pattern. The french curve was used again in the second piece of pattern, towards the top where I enlarged the sizes to make those lines follow the pattern.

Making my own sewing patterns

I’ve recently relocated countries and well, everything is wrong. I can’t find clothes that I like. I left my belongings in my home country, and with that, my sewing patterns. So now I’m sitting with a huge problem. I’m in a foreign country, I have none of my favorite sewing patterns and so my only option is to resort to making my own sewing patterns.

I’ve done a lot of research into making my own sewing patterns. The one thing that I’ve realize is that with my twenty two years of experience in sewing my own clothes, and the success I’ve had recently in copying patterns, that I can in fact succeed in making my own sewing patterns. It IS possible. I can do this.

So without further ado, I will explain the different ways that we can make our own sewing patterns. There are several methods, but I will explain three of the main methods here, in this post.

Tracing my own sewing patterns

The first way that I started making my own patterns started back in my home country when I felt ready to start “spreading my wings” and exploring more sewing knowledge. It is basically called “tracing patterns from favorite items of clothing”.

To do this, you need your favorite item of clothing. For my example I would use a simple “short”. Basically, you would fold the front part of the shirt or pants in half, on the seams, and trace it onto some form of paper. After it has been traced, you literally have “half” the pattern as it’s a fold, so you need to also remember to make the part where you folded the pattern a “cut on fold” part of the pattern. I will explain more about tracing patterns in a future post. You then trace the back of the pattern the same way and to both pieces, you would need to add a seam allowance.

Making a block pattern

Another way of making my own sewing patterns as I have discovered is making a block pattern. This is a basic pattern that fits you snug according to your exact body measurements. It’s quite a bit of math and working out equations to get all the measurements right. But anybody can do the math and with today’s calculators this is made easy. Especially if you’re not good at division! It really is simple math and nothing to fear. Anybody can do it.

Making my own block sewing pattern is easy and I will explain it in detail in a future post. However, you do need to have your exact measurements to be able to do this.

Draping fabric

Another way of making my own sewing patterns is not really a sewing pattern to start with. It’s by draping fabric on to a mannequin. Yes. Literally drape the fabric in the way you want the dress to be, pin and sew. This is a method that I have not explored yet and hopefully never have to do. For the purpose of this website we will focus on patterns, adjusting patterns and so forth.

Making my own sewing patterns is fun and easy as I’ve recently discovered. I’m incredibly happy that I managed to successfully make my first block pattern a while back. And in the next post, I would love to share with you how I went about making my own block sewing pattern.

Equipment needed for making a block sewing pattern

So I recently made a new block sewing pattern for myself. But I didn’t have the correct equipment. It was a rather difficult process making the block sewing pattern without the correct equipment.

In this post I will outline the different pieces of equipment needed and what I did, not having the correct equipment, to still be able to make my basic block sewing pattern.

The first thing you need is a measuring tape. You need the measuring tape to measure yourself as well as make measurements on the actual pattern piece.

The next piece of equipment you need for your block pattern is called a french curve. This is a ruler, shaped in the form of a curve. Because I didn’t have a french curve, I made my own. Click here to find out how to make your own French curve ruler

You would also need a hip curve. Well, I didn’t use one so I do not consider it a complete necessity.

I also used a 90 degree ruler. This ruler is in the form of an L shape and helps when you need to draw straight lines throughout the pattern, which the block pattern is FULL of.

In addition to the curved rulers, you also need some pattern paper. I am not someone who likes spending money on things, so I just used newspaper. It is not recommended though, especially if you’ve never worked with patterns before. For the pattern, I would recommend using a roll of blank paper, blank newspaper, pattern paper, brown paper, tracing paper or even baking paper (This works great for tracing)

In addition to all of the equipment listed above to make your sewing block pattern, you can add some markers, a pencil, pen, selotape, pins, a small ruler and a pencil sharpener and eraser.

I hope this is helpful. With these basic pieces of equipment, you can make your own sewing block patterns easily. Like I said, I use newspaper and thick markers for visibility.