Wise up Wednesdays: Matching fabric to your pattern

Many patterns give suggestions of the types of fabric which might be suitable.  But how do you know if you could substitute something else (perhaps something special from your stash) if it isn’t listed in the suggestions.  There may be times when you can deviate from the pattern suggestions and end up with an even more special garment, personalised to you.

If this is something you are thinking about, here are my thoughts and process for deciding if a fabric will be suitable for the project I have in mind.

  • How similar is your chosen fabric to the suggestions?

If you are substituting one fabric for another similar one then you will probably be fine without making any modifications.  For example, using an upholstery weight cotton for a skirt pattern which suggests denim, cotton twill or corduroy.  Here all the fabrics are all woven and of similar weight and drape, so there will not be any real change to how the pattern fits or is constructed.

IMG_0959

However, if you wanted to make the same skirt in a lightweight cotton lawn, this is significantly lighter than the pattern suggestions.  To get the same effect, you may need to line or interline your fabric, and consider adding interfacing to keep the structure of your garment.

IMG_2264

In making my K4015 coat (which will be revealed on Sunday) the fabric recommendations include double-sided pre-quilted fabrics, laminated fabrics, or water repellent fabrics. I chose to ignore them and made my coat in a wool/acrylic blend with no changes to the pattern, because I was ok with my coat being a little sloucher than the pattern samples.

IMG_0411

What if you want to make bigger changes though?  Keep reading on for my thoughts!

  • Woven or Knit?

What qualities does you pattern require.  One of the first decisions might be about stretch- how much do you need to make the pattern work and how will you get the item on and off if previously it relied on stretch rather than fastenings.  My Rowan bodysuit needed fabric with stretch in both directions to help get it on, off and to fit.  Many jersey or knit patterns need stretch to fit the neckline over your head.  Substituting for something with less stretch may mean you can’t even get your new outfit on, let alone move in it!

IMG_0108

Modifying a jersey pattern to a woven is not terribly common, partially because many jersey or knit patterns rely on negative ease to fit, meaning that the finished measurements are actually smaller than the body measurements.  This is fine when your fabric has stretch, but patterns for woven fabrics need to include ‘ease’ or a bit of extra space for you to move, breathe and take it on and off.  Melly at Melly Sews has a good set of questions and considerations that you may need to think through when changing your fabric from the pattern suggestions.

If you are planning on making a woven pattern in a knit fabric you may need to make a few pattern modifications, such as sizing down, removing fastenings/zips and switching out facings for bands at the neck or sleeves.  It does depend though on what type of knit fabric you use.  A Ponte de Roma or scuba doesn’t usually have a huge amount of stretch, nd is pretty stable so may not need huge modifications. Tilly at Tilly and the Buttons does have two blog posts talking about adapting woven patterns for knits.  One is all about using Ponte and the other talks about modifying a pattern for a lighter weight jersey.  I would say, that for both of these options, the key to success is actually looking at qualities of the pattern you are going to sew, which brings me neatly onto my next consideration.

  • Drape or Structure?

Another consideration is how should the fabric move? Should it be fluid and drapey, or does it need structure and weight to hold the shape of the pattern?  This is something which I do struggle with from time to time.  My basics pocket skirt was made with a linen, but unlike the light linens in the samples, mine was a bit stiff and heavy.  This means that my finished skirt is a bit more structured than it should be. I’m still hoping that as it keeps getting washed it will soften up, but this is an example of not quite matching the requirements to the desired end resultIMG_1787

I now try to think through what is the shape of the garment? Will it be close fitting or will it need to skim over my body? This has helped my more recent projects to meet their intended purpose.  There is no point in dreaming up a flowing evening gown if the fabric that it is constructed in is too stiff to move and drape.

  • Print or Plain?

The other major consideration in my mind is about balancing the desire for lovely printed fabric, with the practicality of solid colours.  When I first stated sewing I was enticed by every cute print going, but they were hard to pair into my wardrobe because they didn’t go with anything.  In the last year, I have been more disciplined in thinking about what do I need.  Do I need another printed skirt, or is a plain t-shirt actually what is missing from my wardrobe.  If you are struggling t=with style considerations like these then perhaps the Colette Wardrobe Architect project posts might be useful in defining your style and what you want to wear and sew.  I am contemplating going through these posts for myself on the blog, so let me know if that is something you would be interested in reading.

IMG_2884 (2)

So I hope that has been helpful in considering what fabric to use for your next project.  Feel free to break the ‘rules’ though. Sewing is also about creativity and problem solving so go your own way if that is what you like.  Look back in next week for some thoughts on prewashing fabric ready for sewing.

 

Advertisements

Valley Blouse

If you haven’t begun your Sew My Style project for July yet, learn from some of my difficulties and read this before you cut out the Valley Blouse!  Mine has come together ok, but not without some wrestling.  In particular, the keyhole section of the instructions could do with some further explanation.IMG_3140.JPG

There is a tutorial on the Califaye website to help with the sewing the keyhole, but I think that even before you get to that section, there is a potential pitfall, which you could avoid.  The cutting layouts show the ‘keyhole liner’ piece being cut on grain, but I would recommend cutting it on the bias. It is near impossible to get a piece of cotton with no stretch to conform neatly to a curve.  If it were cut on the bias, this would be much easier.  I ended up with a couple of small pleats at the middle of the liner when I tried to get all the edges enclosed.

IMG_3174.JPG

After my experience with the Basics Pocket Skirt, which was a little large, I decided to follow my instinct and cut the size small this time, even though my measurements put me in the medium.  This was definitely the right choice, because the fit is pretty much spot on.  There is enough ease to make it flowy, but without drowning me in fabric!

IMG_3150.JPG

This fabric is a cotton Swiss-dot, and is possibly slightly heavier weight than the pattern is intended for, because the gathers don’t drape as well as they could.  That said, it is very comfortable and perfect for summer.  The fabric is from Fabworks and is a lovely blue and grey combination, and at just £4/m it is another bargain!

IMG_3152

I used little hexagon shell buttons from my stash and made actual buttonholes.  I think that they are just great for setting of the simple pattern.

IMG_3128

In the pattern, it suggests that you use French seams for the sides and the back yoke which I did.  Just bear in mind, that with 1cm seam allowances, this does make your French seams very small and a little fiddly.

WP_20170715_20_21_14_Pro[2584]

I’m not sure about how full the sleeves are.  I might take the cuffs off, slim the sleeves down and then put the cuffs back on.  I do quite like them rolled up like this though.

IMG_3099

I followed the instructions fully this time and there are a couple of neat tricks for things like enclosing the front yoke seams.  This shouldn’t be too new to you if you have made a yoked shirt before, but take you time if not.  This is probably the most complex pattern from project sew my style so far, but it is still very manageable if you take it slow.

IMG_3094.JPG

 

Califaye Pocket Skirt

This simple skirt is my May offering for Project Sew My Style, and is from another new-to-me designer.  It is based on the Pocket Skirt by Califaye, but I have made quite a few tweaks along the way!

IMG_1760IMG_1775

First off, I used this tutorial by Mali to swap the patch pockets for slash front pockets.  Because I have made quite a few simple skirts before I didn’t really use the instructions provided with the pattern other than to skim through, and so I did change the construction order slightly.  Unlike some indie patterns, the instructions here don’t seem to be the simplest to follow, and there are only a few illustrations which might make this a bit tricky for a new dressmaker, even though a simple skirt should be very manageable.

IMG_1778

I used some linen from Fabric Godmother for my skirt which I bought at the same time as the challis from my Bridgetown Dress.  Unfortunately it is now out of stock, but I love that the random pattern means no need to match seams!  The linen was a little thick to gather smoothly especially where there were several layers of fabric around the pocket.  I think really I might have been better off with something a bit thinner, but the linen is beautiful and will be fantastic as the weather warms up.

6673B719-674F-4417-8AC5-D6C23ADAA120

For such a simple garment this was not trouble free.  I cut a size M based on my measurements, but think I should have stuck with my instinct and cut a small.  I had to use the elastic in the back waistband to cinch it in to fit.  That has made the back of the skirt a bit more gathered than it should be and I’m not sure how flattering it is.  Perhaps after a few washings the linen will soften up.

IMG_1787

I was also not very sure about the length! I have used the 5cm hem as directed in the pattern, but I think it might be making the skirt a little too short.  I ended up wearing it just below my natural waist to take these pictures to get the length that I felt comfortable in, but I’m not sure that that flatters my figure either. Maybe I just need to lower the hem a bit!

IMG_1764

I decided to add a contrast exposed zip to jazz the skirt up a little as it is such a simple shape.  I think I might use the next Sew My Style project (the Briar top by Megan Nielson) to make a simple white t-shirt to wear with this.  I already have some modal cotton jersey from Girl Charlee which should be really soft and lovely for this.  Definitely looking forward to the summer sewing!

WP_20170501_11_32_43_Pro (2).jpg