Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Designing for Less

There was an article the other day I was linked to from Twitter, and I can't seem to find it for the life of me. It discussed how it is pretty hard to pay for things if you can DIY.

I've not been sewing garments for too long, but within the past few months have been able to familiarize myself with basic silhouettes and pattern pieces. If you have a knowledge of what's available, it's easy to look at a silhouette and find a pattern to get you there, or combine some to get you there.

If you're choosing to knock off a garment, you may have to make some modifications to get more of an identical look. Choosing a pattern based off of the more tailored part of the garment should help you out. Generally, I find the bodice to be more difficult to work with so I'll base my pattern choice off of that. Then I'll choose to work on the skirt alone, or use a pattern or tutorial online to help me out if I'm having difficulty. The main thing to keep in mind when combining patterns is that you keep measurements consistent. For example, you will want the waist of the skirt to match the waist of the waistband, as pattern manufacturers may have different sizing.

Have a look at these dresses from ModCloth. The silhouettes are pretty close to the Burda patterns I've used as an example. With a few modifications, you could make each of the dresses pictured for a bit less.

1. Late-Night Beignets Dress, Gail Pattern 2. Rosy Post Dress, Knee Length Dress with Pockets 3. Blushing Bohemian Dress, Azalea Pattern 4. Summer Will Come Dress, Tiered Mini Dress Pattern

Now, I know ModCloth is fairly reasonable, much more so than Anthropologie, but if you can score a deal on fabric at an outlet or clearance table, plus get the satisfaction of making it yourself, why not?

Also, once you're comfortable with the pattern, you can make modifications and come out with a few different variations on one dress. Simply by switching your fabric choice a dress can go from formal to casual.

I'm no expert on garment design, but hopefully I've inspired you to look at garments and patterns a bit differently to create your own pieces!


  1. I def agree with you! $60 for a dress may not be that much but if you can make 4 dresses for that same price and have the time to do it then why not? I try to knock off designer dresses from magazines that I will never afford and really, you can make things nicer with linings and hidden seams that would not be affordable otherwise. Not to mention the satisfaction of saying "oh you like this? Thanks, I made it myself!"

  2. This is wonderful post!! I sew all the time, and I always get sticker shock when I see dresses and tops online and at the mall. Usually they're very simple silhouettes with the real appeal being in the notions and finishes, which are the easiest and most fun part to do yourself! I love that you've posted the dresses with similar burda patterns - sometimes I get lost wading through all the patterns over there!

  3. Great post! Good reminder of how cool and modern heaps of commercial patterns are. THanks :)



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