Sewing Circle: Mixing and matching patterns

Another Sewing Circle question!!

From reader Emily K...

Q: I have a question for you. I would say that I am an intermediately skilled sewist and I am really getting in to garment construction.  I have a bodice that I would like to use from one pattern and a skirt I would like to use for another. How can I tweak the bodice/skirt so that they will both be the same size? The sleeves too. I rarely like the sleeve options and I would like to know how you have altered the sleeves from one pattern so that they fit with a bodice from a different pattern?

thanks!

A:
Hello Emily,
Great questions!
The good news is it's pretty easy to mix and match the skirt and bodice and sleeves of a dress from different patterns. Well, I should add a caveat: if they have the same basic silhouette.
  • Make sure that both dresses have the same waistline.
  • If they both have a natural waist, for example, and both patterns are sized the same, you shouldn't have any problem at all mixing and matching--you'll just use attach the skirt from Pattern A to the bodice from Pattern B.
  • The trouble comes if you have a pattern with a scooped waist panel and a bodice with a straight-across midriff panel--just cut them both out straight across, in that case, to be safe.
  • Again, if they both are your size (measure the pattern pieces, add it all together, and subtract your seam allowances to check), you should be able to match Patterns A and B, no problem.

I have never had a problem using a sleeve from Pattern C, for example, either!
  • Check the armholes and make sure that the bodices from Patterns B and C are similar--a skimpy tank dress won't work with an almost-raglan sleeve, of course, for example.
  • But if both B and C are similarly shaped bodices with regular armholes and sleeves, you shouldn't have any problem using the sleeve from one and the bodice from the other!
As you sew your elements together, make sure you pin carefully first. If they don't seem to match, you maaaay need to do a little adjusting. But, my prediction is that it will work fine!

I mix and match patterns all the time.  Here are a few examples...

This dress:
This dress:
This dress that I remade:
This dress, an example of modifying a scoop-waist pattern to a straight-across waist:
This dress:
And this one! (Dunno why it's so blurry all of a sudden...)

If you look through my blog you'll see I rarely follow a pattern exactly.  Have fun learning and mixing and matching!!

Readers, any other success or warning stories about mixing up patterns?  Please share!

4 comments

  1. I have a vintage pattern that I ended up HEAVILY altering.
    After I cut the bodice, I found out that I didn't have the piece for the skirt, so I had to crack open another pattern for a skirt to use.
    After putting it together, I discovered (and at 2 AM no less) that the neck line was choking me. I had to grade and line a new one, and fast!

    I think I did all right, though. :D
    http://bit.ly/lQB3Rp

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  2. I mix patterns all the time. I've even used patterns for formal dresses/casual shirts and mixed them up to make renaissance dresses.

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  3. Oh, yeah, you can totally use what is marketed as a formalwear dress pattern and make it cute and casual depending on the fabric and variations.

    A big part of the fun of making your own clothes is designing!

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  4. those are some really lovely dresses....gorgeous

    http://www.etsy.com/shop/Rosabellebyvasu

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