For the past week I've been making another Mortmain dress by Gather Kits. This time round though, it's not for me - it's a sample for Badger and Earl, to publicise a future Mortmain dressmaking class. My brief was to sew it up exactly as instructed in the pattern, but once I was making it, I realised it differed quite a lot from the first version I made, back in the summer.
I'd always thought I was quite an obedient type when it came to following pattern instructions, but in reality, that's not the case. Here's what I did differently the first time round, when left to my own devices:
1) Box pleats sewn the reverse to what was instructed in the pattern i.e. pleating from the right side of the fabric rather than the wrong side. To be fair, this is suggested in the pattern as an alternative so I wasn't being a complete rebel!
|This is how I made the pleats originally….|
|….and this is the sample showing what they should look like. It's actually quite a subtle difference|
2) Invisible zip used instead of the exposed metal zip which is a feature of the pattern. I'm still on the fence about exposed zips, especially in such a feminine dress. Personally, I think they work better on more robust looking garments. Still, I learnt a new skill whilst making the sample (how to insert an exposed zip), which I'm pleased about, and I think the zip does look good, I'm just not sure if it's for me!
3) Armholes finished with bias binding instead of the self fabric facings in the pattern. I realise that armhole facings need to have a bit of width to them to sit nicely, but I still prefer the neater, trimmer finish when using bias binding. The compromise is that bias binding doesn't give you the seamless finish you get with facings (unless, of course, you catchstitch it down by hand, which has never worked successfully for me).
|Admittedly, you do get a lovely clean finish on the armholes with a facing|
I also added interfacing to the waistband pieces and underlined the entire dress, but that was more down to fabric choice than me being a maverick! They're not big changes by any means, but I'm surprised there were so many of them - in my head, I thought I'd sewn up the dress more or less exactly as the pattern dictated (minus the zip). I didn't think I was such a madam with my sewing!
When I first started sewing I slavishly followed sewing patterns exactly as written, terrified of deviating in case it all went horribly wrong. Over time, I've learnt that if a design detail doesn't rock your boat or you know of an easier/neater/faster way of getting the same result, then it's a no brainer to make a few changes to the pattern. Plus, I'm all for putting your own stamp on things! The obvious exception to this is pattern testing, where the whole point of the exercise is that you follow directions exactly to check they make sense.
I suppose the more confident you become with your own changes, the more you're inclined to start pattern hacking left, right and centre. Using the bodice from one pattern, the skirt from another and even the sleeves from a third can produce wonderful results!
I'd be interested to know where you stand on this. Do you obediently sew by the rules and never deviate? Or do you slash, hack and mix up your patterns to your heart's content?! x