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Weekend: Tried and True Patterns


Quick question for all you sewers. How many times does it take to make a garment before its pattern becomes tried and true (TNT)? I’m sure it varies from person to person and garment to garment, but I asking for an approximate. Two? Three? Five? It’s along the same lines as how long does it take for someone to master a skill? Some say 2 years while others say 10 years. Adding to this, once it becomes TNT, do you push it further or leave it as is? This has been going through my mind as I work on a few “TNT” bra patterns. Should I take it to the next step (adding different trims, using different techniques) or move on?



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    Hmm, excellent question! I tend to think TNT = >2. The first time is a trial run (wearable muslin, really) and the second time is to begin working out kinks. It only gets made three or more times if I really like it. I’m trying to make it one of my sewing goals this year to always attempt to improve a pattern every time I revisit it, so whenever I return to an old pattern, I make myself take the time to fish out all of my previous versions and figure out how they could be tweaked. I should probably keep a sewing journal for each pattern/fabric I work with…eventually!

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      With me, three times is the number. This was a good and bad realization. It was good because I wasn’t as hard on myself if the first and second try didn’t turn out perfect (or near perfect). The bad part was realizing that your pace slows because you have to make something numerous times before one, it’s sewn excellently, and two, you can share tips/trick with others (unless you’re posting about it as a wearable muslin). And there’s always that one off pattern that first right out of the package!

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    At least three times before it’s TNT, for me. And they always turn out slightly differently each time – sometimes unintentionally (others deliberate). I don’t know if it’s fabric choice, or the lack of cutting or sewing accuracy, but something always makes the latest one slightly different from the earlier versions.

    But once I’ve got one, I tend to keep it forever, altering length, sleeves, necklines etc as the mood takes me – sometimes altering it beyond recognition. But hey, if I’ve got a pattern that fits me, it’s much easier to change the collar or length or pockets or whatever, than re-fit a whole new pattern from scratch!

    I’ve got a pencil skirt and two dresses I’ve made getting on for a dozen times each. One of those I first made in the early 90s…

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      You making 20 or so garments from a single pattern shows the usefulness of TNT patterns!

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    Third time is the charm! That’s when I trace the pattern to oak tag or fusibles. I do always push it though, changing a detail, adding an embellishment. I have a Sandra Betzina jeans jacket I have made six times and no two look alike!

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      Sandra Betzina is fantastic! I have her book, “Power Sewing”, and it has so many great tips, tricks and overall sewing knowledge.

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    Tasha @ By Gum, By Golly

    Well I think it depends on how happy you are with the first version or the muslin. With my first Emery muslin I knew instantly it would be a TNT, all I technically had to do was lower the bust darts. I’ve used the bodice over a dozen times and tweaked it for style or fit every time, because I knew what I was working with. I have a huge ziploc bag devoted just to Emery bodice pieces. But other things have taken longer. Generally I always have my eye out for patterns I think will be a TNT, because I really enjoy making minor tweaks to something I know I’ll really like and maybe more importantly, will wear a lot!

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      The fast fashion mentality that I’m moving away from is switching from pattern to pattern without perfecting it – without attempting to make it a tried and true. I’m currently crafting my bra wardrobe, and with the Kitri bra (the bra I posted on Monday), I’m questioning whether to move to the next style or push it further (switching up the back, using different elastic, ect). I’m going with the latter, just as you have done with the Emery.

      Thank you for the thoughtful comment.

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    Natasha Estrada

    I think at a certain point it stops being a TNT pattern and becomes a block. I’ve made about 10 pairs of shoes all from the same pattern

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      Very good point

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    Patterns are like books for me. I don’t like to read a book twice cause the fun of the surprise is no longer there. I have to pretty much forget what it was about to read it again. With patterns, if I have made it once and liked it I don’t want to make the same exact thing again. I would only do that if there was a long period between making it. I change the patterns I love every time I make them. I love taking a pattern that I have made before and making it new. I keep the foundation there and change parts of it that really kind of make it into a new pattern. That is fun to me. It challenges me and makes me a better seamstress. I encourage that creativity. I still have the original if I decide to make it again or change it again but in a different way. So I guess for me a TNT pattern is known the first time I make it. Even if there are mistakes, that is just part of the creative process.

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