My fabric stash, while I do my best to contain it, is still taking up all the available storage space (one small bookshelf, one small cupboard, one cardboard box, many bags) and threatening to expand. I am trying to keep it down, but I’m not against its expansion per se.
My pattern stash, on the other hand, fits in a large shoebox. I want to get rid of some of the patterns I have, with the realisation that I probably won’t use them. I’m not planning to stop buying patterns completely, but I don’t want the stash to outgrow the shoebox. A shoebox-sized pattern library seems like about enough.
I sew clothes for everyday and costumes, with little overlap. My LARP costumes are majority self-drafted: I’ve used pre-existing patterns in a few cases – like the Wizard Coat and Hero Pants – but mostly I’ve done them from scratch. (The fact that LARP costumes are rarely closely fitted for practical reasons was definitely a help when I was starting out.)
For my normal clothes, I do sew from commercial patterns, but if you look through my blog history – or my wardrobe – what’s most immediately visible is the extent to which I reuse and alter them.
I’ve picked out six patterns I consider to be my TNTs – tried and tested, or, depending who you ask, tried and true. (Click the links to see a list of all blogged versions!)
While it’s convenient to have both, I think at this point I’d be more or less confident converting darts to princess seams or vice versa if I needed to. V8772 works quite happily with bodice panels, and I’ve considered a darted L5016 if I had a print that would be hard to match across the seams.
- Knit top: Tilly & the Buttons Coco.
I’ve only made the Coco twice, but it could easily be made short-sleeved, tunic-length, colour-blocked …
- Jacket: By Hand London Victoria.
I’ve made it at regular and coat lengths, single-sided and reversible, and with both the simple lapels it came with and a faux notched collar.
- Fitted woven trousers: Sewaholic Thurlows.
I’ve now succeeded in converting the back darts to a separate yoke and making jeans out of them. Can also be shorts if needed.
- Loose/elastic-waist woven trousers (& undies): Butterick 5044.
I’ve made shorts and pants out of these and am looking at making a full-length pair for summer with ALL the pockets.
Of those, I’ve only made the Coco twice – as well as the Winter Coco there’s been another, which turned out to have a bit too much stretch in the fabric and is now pyjamas – but I foresee many more. Of the others, I’ve made three Victorias, four Lekalas,
four five Thurlows, six of B5044 and seven of V8772.
It’s gotten to the point where I’m reasonably confident that I can get all the everyday clothes I need – excepting socks and heavy-duty outerwear – out of the six patterns listed, with the possible addition of a trouser/leggings pattern for knit fabrics (… I may have one in the works.)
There’s a lot of scope for variation in all of them: lengths, pockets, colours, colour placement, finishing, piecing, embellishment. My mum bought me a copy of the 1949 edition of the Singer Sewing Book for Christmas, which is full of intriguing little ideas for alterations and decoration (and utterly bizarre/hilarious 1940s advice); I’m looking forward to trying out some of the suggestions in that.
I’m still awkward at pattern drafting. I think I’ll always have trouble quite visualising how a 2D net folds up into a 3D object. But I’m getting better; and I’m good enough to reliably produce the basics now, and that is a thrilling stage to be at – a firm footing from which to look towards more experimental things.