Perfect for Winter -Pisco dress – hacking the pattern

Hello everyone!

Do you belong to a group of sewists who is using , hacking and adapting a pattern they like to make many different looks, or do you think it is a waste of time and just prefer to buy a new pattern that resembles the style you want??? I belong to the first group and enjoy immensely the whole process and the final result. I must say that I am not always successful at it, but it is always a learning curve.

The latest hack that I had done, which also was a success, was made on a Pisco dress by SBCC Patterns. You can find a post and my review of this pattern here.

Pisco dress and my design

I fell in love with this pattern so much that I knew I was going to hack it any way I can! As it is a sleeveless dress, the first think that came to my mind was to simply add sleeves. After that I thought it would be nice to have a cosy and warm dress during Xmas holidays ( I went to Poland, where the temperature dropped to -5 and it was snowing alot), so I wanted to also add a turtleneck.

Hacking the pattern

To ensure I do not mess up my existing Pisco dress pattern I had first copied the bodice pieces (front, back and sides) up to waistline and left a free space around each piece to allow me to do any adjustments.

I started adapting the pattern by changing the neckline and drafting a separate turtleneck pattern, because it was the easiest part. To do this I simply merged the front and back Pisco neckline with a Freya top pattern by Tilly and the buttons. Next, I took a Freya roll neckline pattern and lengthened it by 7cm.

The process of hacking the armhole and adding sleeve pattern was more complicated, because original Pisco dress pattern has armhole band that is shapped and not symmetrical, also the bodice is shaped using princess seam with side panels.

First I pinned all parts of the bodice seams together just under the armhole to give me an idea of how the pattern pieces lay together and to see the curve of the armcycle.

Next using the Freya top front and back pieces I placed it on top of The Pieco pattern to check if I can use it as a guideline. It was pretty easy to do on the back so I copied the outline and angle of the shoulder seam and a curve of the back armhole.

I did the same for the front, however I had to guess the shape of the front armhole curve, because of the princess line shaping. To do this I measured the width of the Pisco armhole band at the side seam and use this number to extend the side seam going towards armpit. Otherwise the armcycle would have too low cut. After that I simply conected and smoothed the front and back armhole curves to meet at the new seam line, but keeped the shape of the copied armhole at the start of each shoulder seams as far as possible.

For the sleeve pattern I also decided to use a copy of the Freya sleeve, because the overall circumference of a newly drafted armcycle was very close in measurements to that of the Freya top.



Fabric choice

For this project I had purchased 2 meters of this lovely cotton blend sweatshirting fabric from Universal textiles in Shepherd’s Bush (£12.99/meter). This was a first time I had a chance to sew this type of fabric and I have to say it was pretty easy apart from the rolling edges ( had to use more pins to keep it flat). However I decided to use this as a feature on my turtleneck, by leaving the top edge raw.

I really like how warm and cosy this fabric is, but what took me by surprise was the lack of stretch. I do not know if all sweatshirting fabrics are like this, but when I think about RTW joggers and hoodies made out of this type of material it always seam that it have more stretch to it….but maybe I’m wrong?

Sewing the pattern

The entire process of sewing this pattern was nice and smooth, because the fabric was easy to handle and manipulate and because I am familiar with both Pisco and Freya patterns.

Once I had decided to leave the turtleneck hem raw and allow it to roll naturally I had to take a moment to think what would be best way to finish off the seam at the back. I did not want simply to overlock it because when rolled outside it would be visible, so I opted to go for more of a visible feature stitch. I opened and trimmed the seam allowance and used the biggest zig zag stitch on my machine to flatten and cover the entire seam allowance. It looks more tidy in my opinion and ads some character. Mind you it cannot really be noticable when my hair are down.

I came upon one problem once I finished making the dress. When I tried it on I barely could put my arms through the sleeves. oooohhh boy!!! During the time I was altering the pattern I didn’t know what fabric I would pick and was expecting to use a Ponte Roma fabric which has a lot more give. In hindsight I should have thought about it once I had my fabric, but I didnt think it would make such a difference…..I was wrong! Luckily I had enough of fabric scraps to cut two large rectangles . I had to unpick both sleeves, cut them in half and insert the panels in the middle to increase arm circumference. This process made the sleeve head larger but I still managed to ease it in into the armhole. Next time I will have to pay more attention to the type of fabric and stretch percentage.

Final thoughts

I really like the way this dress turned out, even with all new features and amendments and  I wore it as planned during the Xmas dinner. The process of hacking this pattern and merging it with another one opened a new door for so many possibilities! It definitely saved me a lot of time, because drafting pattern takes time for me. I have few more ideas how I can transform the Pisco pattern, so do not be surprised if you hear it being used again 😉

Monika xxx

Trying a free Monroe Turtleneck pattern by Tessuti

Hello my readers!!! With so many new patterns out there it is getting more difficult to stay up to date especially if you also consider a growing number of those free patterns available for an instant download! I’m sure I’m not the only one who heard about Mandy boat tee or Monroe Turtleneck patterns by Tessuti but yet had not tried it out!

I had downloaded both patterns few months ago with a plan to sew it up for the winter season and managed to do so with just one of them. After comparing both pattern I had realized that they are nearly identical in shape apart from necklines, so I thought I’ll try the turtleneck version first and see how I feel. The style lines reminds me a bit of a Molly top by Sew Over It with a looser fit, which is what I like to wear on a day to day basis.

Monroe Turtleneck pattern

The pattern

Monroe Turtleneck pattern comes in 4 different sizes. It is a boxy top with plenty of easy, cropped shoulders and closely fitted sleeves. There is an option of two sleeve lenghts: long and 3/4.

The pattern comes with a simple sewing instructions that are easy to follow.

Pattern adjustments

Prior to making any pattern, particularly from new to me pattern company, I do some research and read as many reviews online as I need to understand the pattern. That is when I had learnt that most people go down one size because the main body of the pattern is too big for majority of sewists. It could be a personal preference of those people, but looking at photos I went with a flow and made mine also one size smaller. The other issues many included in many of reviews was a tightness of sleeves, which I knew right away it would be an issue for me….big biceps.

So far I had made 3 versions of this pattern and version 1 was kinda straight out of the box. I used a size 2 as my base, by looking at the final pattern measurements and the overall desired ease, otherwise my sizing would put me in size 3, but used a size 1 hem length and size 3 sleeves.

Although the size and shape of this top was spot on it was quiet difficult to put it over my head plus sleeves were slightly digging in under my arms, even though I used a bigger size.

Version 2 ( red ) included small adjustments to the pattern pieces as you can see below. I had added 2 cm to the width of the turtleneck, so it would be easier to put it over my head. On front and back pattern pieces I had to increase/lower the armhole curve and adjusted sleeves by slashing it in the middle and expanding by 2.5 cm.

The fabric was more stretchy so it was more comfortable to wear, but still did not like the sleeve tightness on my.

The final 3rd version (white) includes additional changes to the pattern. I had straighten the sleeve seam line, which gave me all the ease needed for comfort during wear. Also, I decided that I would like a longer turtleneck, which I drafted by extending the original pattern by 5 cm in length and 2 cm in width. Lastly I opted to include a dropped hem at the back with a small slit at the side seams. To do this I added 3.5 cm to the back hem, marked the start of the slit and added 1 cm of extra seam allowance.

Fabric choice

Each of my versions is made out of a different fabric, which was a conscious decision on my part. I wanted to see how it will look, plus I wanted to sew other type of knitted fabric that I had not worked with before.

Version 1 is a blend of polyester, viscose and elastin fibers. I bought it from Fabric Galore in Kingston for £9.00 a meter. It has only 5% elastin so it is more dense fabric and so so much stretchy, but it keeps me warm.

Version 2 is a wool blend that I purchased in Shepherd’s Bush Market for £10.00 a meter. It is more loosely knitted fabric, which gives more drape to the sweater and it is less clingy.

The last version is made out of cable knit I got it from for £11.75 a meter and it is my favourite so far. Maybe it is because of I finally got the correct fitting adjustments, maybe because the color reminds me of snow…who knows?

Sewing the pattern

Monroe Turtleneck pattern is super easy to sew. It has small seam allowance which makes it simple to make using just the overlocker. I made each top with just over one hour, so it is the quickest make ever for me I think. Sticking and altering the pattern took longer hihihi I did not even bother to look at the instruction booklet, because it is that simple!

Final thoughts

Monroe Turtleneck is a well drafted free pattern that is suitable for anyone wanting to sew with a knitted fabric, but is still afraid. The pattern does consists of mostly straight lines and has minimal amount of seams, which makes it very simple to sew.

Based on this I am sure I will be making the Mandy boat tee sometime soon, with lightweight jersey to give it more casual top style.

Are you going to try it too???

Monika xxx