There are so many simple ways of altering a pattern. Once you have a basic pattern that you like, you could spend a lifetime varying it 😀

This group of posts started as a post on varying a cut-on sleeve top pattern. The ideas here on textile altering skills can be used on pretty well any other pattern as well.

There are sections in this post on :
– add areas of special stitching or other techniques to your garment.
– combine fabrics.
– use modern digital techniques.

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Change surface details

No need to change the pattern to get a garment that looks different, just change the fabric 😀

Dye, paint, stencil, stamp your fabric. Add vinyl from a cutting machine.
Crochet, knit, braid, tatt, bobbin lace your own trims.
Add areas of bought trims, decorative stitches, hand or machine embroidery, appliqué, patchwork, quilting, and other stitching variations, for many more possibilities.

Stitching explorations

Slow hand stitching
Try Alabama Chanin technique – will be much admired by anyone who sews 😀 Perhaps try this on a small area, such as a yoke or pocket.
aC techniq
(Alabama Chanin)

Or try smocking. There’s a much wider range of possibilities than just the classic zigzag lines on sweet small children’s clothes. People will wonder how on earth you did it ! Perhaps make a quilt of samples while learning these hand stitched fabric manipulation techniques, videos from TeresaDownUnder.

Something simpler ?
If you like casual stitching, try Japanese ‘boro’ stitching and other mending techniques.
If you prefer more accuracy, try sashiko. There are printed panels with the stitching positions marked.
Those links are to books, there are also many YouTube videos.

Machine stitching
Explore and have fun with combining the decorative stitches on your machine and using the special presser feet.
I find I like styles with pin or larger tucks and/or gathers combined with decorative stitches.

Heirloom sewing by machine, courses from Craftsy – how to add lace strips, small ruffles.

Machine embellishments, course from the former Martha Pullen group.
These courses, also from that source, combine using an embroidery machine and a serger to make a blouse and jacket.
Click on the Courses tab at The Sewing Collection to see many other options.

The Stitching Cosmos course from Sewing Mastery has specific versions about using the presser feet available from each of the major sewing machine manufacturers.

For yet more options see the Embellishment section on the first Techniques Index page.

Fabric combining

For print fabric combining inspiration, see Susan Eastman.
More inspiration on my cut-on sleeve pinterest board (scroll down). And my fabric combinations pinterest board.
Or for a different perspective see Susan Lazear’s choices.

Instead of combining colours or prints, you may like combining areas of different fabric textures : bought fabrics or textures made by you. Easiest if the fabrics are of similar weight and ‘body’/ stiffness. Combining leather with other fabrics, or velvet with lace – may be a challenge to sew ! Areas of light-weight fabric may need backing support.

Two approaches to combining fabrics :
– combine pieces of different fabrics together until you have an area large enough to cut out your pattern piece.
– or make a pieced pattern :
– – trace the pattern piece,
– – draw lines on it where you want the seams,
– – trace each area and add your preferred seam allowances.

Then stitch the fabric sections together : serge/overlock or zigzag the seam allowances together (french and other enclosed seam finishes may be too bulky). Or lay the pieces over each other, stitch near the exposed edge and leave it to fray.
Pixie Faire

Explore 21st century options

Copy the embellishments and sewing skills used in past centuries, as above, or move forward into the next.

Use graphics and photo editing software to make your own fabric designs, and send your designs to fabric print-on-demand companies to get the fabric.
Use pattern making software to print pattern piece shapes onto fabric, and add a different digital print design onto each piece.
If you only want small areas of a design, there is specially treated fabric which can be printed on a home printer. Easy to make a special personalised pocket, label, or appliqué patch.

Combine real and digital versions of the same design elements : perhaps the same motifs made by stencils, stamps, cutting, digital printing, appliqué and reverse appliqué, hand and machine quilting, hand and machine embroidery.

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Did you know that making your own patterns and styles is so easy 😀

This group of posts started from making changes to a basic cut-on sleeve top. There’s another variations post mainly about making simple changes to a basic dress pattern with separate bodice and skirt.

Have fun exploring the myriad options 👍 ♥️ 😀
No need to try to get your perfect personal style in the first item. Start with small changes at first, and expand as you feel ready for more.
There’s potential for a life-time of variations, from one very simple pattern !

What do you especially love wearing ? What do you feel good when you wear ? How can you include some of those features in every outfit ?

But what if you find all this too much ?
Do you get ‘analysis paralysis/ overwhelm’ with so many options ?
Write each possible variation that you like on a slip of paper. Fold them up into a cup/ bowl and get a friend/ child to pick one out 😀
Or use the ‘pairs’ technique to find your preferences. Again it’s easiest if you write out the options. Then compare each pair of possibilities in turn, and keep the one you prefer. Continue until you only have one left 😀

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Do you love the thought of having these embellishments on your garments. Or are you a minimalist 😀

Good Luck, have fun and en-joy exploring the possibilities for making everything about your me-made clothes to your own choice 😀

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These are now the sections in this group of posts on learning to sew garments :
The way this group of posts has become so large just shows how much there can be to know about sewing, even at the lowest levels.

These are a couple of posts on starting to understand your machine :
1. learn to control speed and direction, by stitching on paper.
2. thread the machine, stitch on fabric.

This is the post I keep referring to about learning the most basic skills before starting to make garments.

1. Start on the path to learning to sew garments :
1A. Pattern lines which teach.
1B. Some big ‘learn to sew’ courses.
2. Some shorter courses.

3. Make making easier – levels of difficulty, suggestions for practising.

Moving on from the basics

While writing these posts, I was thinking about varying a garment pattern in two contexts :
4. Variations on a cut-on sleeve top, now expanded to include more garment types :
Variations A : change style elements.
Variations B : from pullover to open front.
Variations C : using your fibre-arts skills
D : Variations on the 2 patterns used in the Seamwork learn to sew course, a dress with waist seam, and a robe-style jacket.

5. Become aware of your many styles.

6a. Beginner wardrobe A : add skills as you make clothes. This post provides a guided sequence of making which you might follow.

6b. Beginner wardrobe B : some possible outfits/ capsules from specific pattern lines.

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These are posts on specific easy-make garment styles :

Cut-on sleeve tops – group of five posts :
1. patterns,
2A. Reasons to make a test garment.
2B. Making a test garment, and adjusting for fit and preferences.
2C. An example of a changed test garment, plus how to revise your pattern.
3. sewing a cut-on sleeve top.

Peasant-style tops, with gathered neckline and raglan sleeves.
More easy tops.

Elastic-waist skirts.
Elastic-waist pants.

Robe style jackets.

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