MNSOC Member Guest Post: Prison Breaking a Pattern
by Deborah Lundberg
Have you ever had a costume idea in your head but there were no patterns that matched it? This always happens to me. I don’t have time to create an entirely new pattern just to fit my next brilliant idea. So what I do is find a pattern that’s close and prison break it!
Yes, that’s right. I don’t follow the rules; I break them!
I’ve had a Steampunk inspired outfit in my head for two years now (yes…things tend to simmer for a while up there). I’ve collected trim and fabric for a year, looking for the perfect items for my vision. One of the things I wanted was an overskirt with lots of angles and ruffles. But nothing out there fit what was in my head until I found the Truly Victorian 1898 Flared Skirt pattern. It was perfect….well not perfect, it was too long, it didn’t have enough ruffles and not nearly enough angles. But it was a good start on my idea.
These are my basic steps to prison breaking a pattern:
Step one: Read the pattern directions! You need to know what the rules are before you can break them. What I wanted was a shorter skirt and most patterns have an area where you can lengthen/shorten. So I did that first. It wasn’t enough but it got me closer to where I wanted to be.
Step Two: Cut out a muslin pattern. Eventually, this will become your new pattern or it will end up in the garbage due to an error and a new one will be cut out. This is why I buy muslin by the bolt when it’s on sale. I can usually get it for $1 a yard. Put all markings of the pattern on this piece. Use a sharpie! It’s okay! We want it to be permanent!
Step Three: Draping. Pin all the pieces together as if you’ve sewn them. Then put them on your Dummy. (It’s nearly impossible to refit a pattern on yourself. I recommend a Duct Tape Dummy. Grab a friend, a lot of duct tape and directions off the Internet. This is an amazing tool! I’ve had mine for about 7 years now and it’s improved my fitting abilities.)
Step Four: Go crazy! Grab some chalk, pins, measuring tool, and scissors. What I like to do is see how the fabric is laying, then use the chalk to remark the length or make any other changes. Generally you will only need to mark up one side of the pattern. Which is good, because if you don’t like what you did, you can do it differently on the other side.
For my skirt, I marked the top half shorter, with a more severe angle, cut it, then attached the bottom piece of the skirt. Then I re-drew the hem in an opposite angle as the mid seam. Then when I liked the result, I cut that off the extra fabric. It’s important to do more then just draw on the patterns. By cutting the fabric, you will see how it falls. Which is an important for the end result. If it lays funny, redo it.
Keep re-doing it until you like the final product.
Step five: Mark your patterns with a sharpie. Make sure to mark your pattern with any changes you created, and add lines (similar to what they do with triangles on patterns) so you can match up the pieces once you take it apart. Mark each piece with a signature name and what each piece is; so in the future you know what the pattern is for and how to remake it.
Now you have a new pattern, that no one else has!
I finished my overskirt by adding a ruffle in the mid seam so that angle is more pronounced and an off to the side trim going horizontally down the front. Which will eventually have buttons added. Now all I need to do is prison break the under skirt and jacket.
Go out there and have fun breaking the rules!
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