I have done a fair bit of pattern hacking and clothing alterations in my time, and usually with a reasonable outcome. It was uppermost in my mind when I set out on the last few projects, that I really needed to feel confident that what I was doing would work. So, when you start hacking / adjusting, there is a definite need for imagination, in order to see the range of possibilities of a garment or pattern. Then you bring to bear your confidence before wielding the scissors.
Two hacks stand out in my mind here. One is my first Zadie jumpsuit, made in 2019, and hacked last summer, and the second is one of my Nora sweatshirts, which I hacked just a couple of weeks ago.
When I took the scissors to the Zadie it felt like such a big deal. I cut it in two – the body completely from the trousers. Such a drastic step. Then I shortened both the body, and the crotch rise before sewing it back together. The misracle is that it worked! Even the bound edges came together, without the need to take off the ties. Woohoo! Such a confidence booster.
So, I confidently (there’s the word again!) set about the Nora.
I made this at the beginning of 2019, and wore it quite happily for two years, even though the fabric was less stable than the pattern really needed, and it was decidedly large.
When the cuff stitching started undoing it would have been an easy job just to re-stitch, but I foresaw an adjustment which in my imagination would be a definite improvement.
First I thought about cutting off the sleeve turn ups and changing to tighter cuffs – no problem, right?
Then I thought that I could take it all in a bit. Easy! I could have just sewn new seams a couple of inches in, but no, my confidence told me that it would be better to deconstruct, and resew. This came about because, over time, the sleeves had stretched at the shoulder seams, and there was a distinct bagginess, so the sleeves really needed to be taken in at these seams.
So the sleeves were cut off, and the side seams opened. I then proceded to re-attach the sleeves, and resew the side seams.
This is where my confidence and imagination got the better of my accuracy. The side seams ended up with the front longer than the back, where the back should be longer than the front. There is also a bagginess at the back which I don’t really like. I may be able to turn the front up slightly, but that affects the hem, which I hadn’t intended to touch.Another test of my confidence as to knowing what will work.
It’s not a complete disaster – the cuffs worked really well, the shoulder seams are more even, and it is wearable, but it’s not quite up to my standard.
My lack of attention to accuracy, over-confidence, and not taking the time to ensure that it was all done properly, resulted in a poor outcome. This has knocked my confidence, and I haven’t really felt like getting stuck into another project since.That is despite my years of sewing experience and the many, many sewing disasters in my past.
Maybe writing this blog will be the catharsis I need to put it behind me. I hope so. We see on social media so many beautifully made garments, with incredible skills on show. It can be disheartening at times to think “I don’t achieve results like that”. I suppose what we don’t see are the back stories, where things have gone wrong, or topstitching is wobbly etc. etc.
What I take from this experience is that it’s great to have the imagination and the ideas, but I should be careful to plan things out carefully and accurately. That way my confidence will be justified.