Pattern Hacking 101- Week One

This week we’re going to assemble the tools we need to hack a pattern. The first thing you need is a target garment. Maybe it’s something you saw in a store, or it could be a pattern you’ve seen, but you want to see if you already have the pieces you need to make it before you buy it. Or maybe it’s an original design that lives in your head.

If you want to learn to hack a pattern using drawing tools, you’re going to need a French curve        french-curve-sewing-pattern-tailoring-tool-Fashion-ruler-instructions-Laurel-Leaf-Farm-item-no-u89137-2

and a clear plastic ruler. 1273734963134_hz-myalibaba-web6_1594

A hip curve ruler can come in handy, too, but you can wait until you decide you like to do this to purchase one.  31ZEHIgK47L._AC_US200_



French curves come in lots of sizes. For sewing, an 18″ clear plastic one is the easiest to use. Some of them are kind of flimsy so look for one thick enough to take some abuse.  If you’re hard on your tools, you can get a metal one, but there is an advantage to being able to see through it.  I like having different lengths and widths, but any clear plastic ruler will do. A hip curve ruler is good for making size adjustments and for drawing a curved hem. You can do either with your French curve, too. The hip curve is just faster. You’ll need the French curve and the ruler for week four.

Next week we’ll use pattern merging to change a sleeve or alter a neckline. Have fun looking through your pattern stash for inspiration. If you find a pattern sale this week and you’re tempted, before you add a pattern to your cart, check through your stash for two or three patterns you could merge to duplicate the one you’re thinking of buying. We’ll do pockets and collars in week 3.

This is my target garment. It’s a top for sale at one of my favorite stores.


To make it I’m going to need a knit bodice, a boat neck, a bell sleeve, and a gathered skirt.

This week we’re just getting ready to hack. Look through your patterns for one you almost love. One you’d like to change to make it perfect. Maybe you’d like to have a different sleeve or change the neckline. Add a collar. If you’ve never hacked before, keep the change simple.  Pick one or two features. Print out the base pattern if you haven’t already, and trace it, even if you already have, unless you don’t ever plan to use your original tracing again.  We’re going to be altering the pattern, and there won’t be any going back. For my target garment the base pattern will be the bodice.

Then look through your pattern stash for another pattern with the feature(s) you want to move. We aren’t going to alter this pattern so if it’s already printed and traced, you don’t have to do it again. The patterns don’t have to be from the same designer. The patterns can be pdf or paper, and you can mix and match them.

As you look through your patterns, think about all of the pieces you’ll need to get to the finished garment you want. For a top or dress, you’ll need a bodice front and back, maybe a skirt, sleeves or an armhole, a neckline, maybe a collar, and sometimes pockets. Pants and skirts need fronts, backs, waistbands, and pockets.

February is a short month, but we don’t have to rush through it. There will opportunities to hack at least two garments in this SAL. One by merging patterns, and a second one using drawing tools. We’ll do the pattern merging first so you’ll have time to assemble your tools for the second one.

This SAL will remain here permanently so you can come back as often as you like. During the SAL, if you’re in the Sew Your Pattern Stash Facebook group, please leave your questions there. Later you can leave them here,





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