pattern mixing

Sewing with less fabric

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When you sew it’s only a matter of time before you own some sort of fabric collection and some of these lengths will be smaller than required to sew up a garment.

There are 3 basic ways a fabric can end up in my stash, not having been bought for a specific project.

  1. I may have gone into a cute little fabric shop in a pretty town and wanted to buy something to support the owner .
  2. I saw some fabric, any fabric, in a charity shop and bought it.
  3. I have bought for a song or been given someone else’s fabric collection for free – I am unable to say no to any offers of this nature.

My pattern collection is mostly made up of ‘free patterns’ from magazines, in fact my whole sewing practice is quite chaotic and unplanned and I like it like that, but as my experience grows, order and satisfaction is emerging from chaos. With a now pretty decent collection of both fabric and patterns, the garments I sew may be driven by either, but often when I chose a fabric and a pattern from my stash to go together, there will not be the required yardage. I have stopped worrying about this because whatever yardage is available it can usually be made to work .

Once I have settled on the main fabric for a garment, I will make fit adjustments to the pattern pieces like shortening the length (I am 5ft 3in so this is a usual adjustment for me), lay the main pieces out on the fabric to see what will fit and cut these pieces out. The main pieces will be the largest ones on the front of the garment so shirt fronts, skirt fronts, dress bodices, front trouser legs, and as long as 2 or 3 of these main pieces will fit I am good to go. Sleeves, pockets, collars and belts are OK on the cross grain if the print is non directional.

Denim A line skirt with yolk waistband

Most recent make is this skirt for which stated the fabric required was 1.95 square metres. I only had 1.2 square meters of this black stretch denim, and the width was an unuseful 110cm which would only accommodate 3 of the 4 panels of this A line skirt. I cut the 2 back panels exactly as required by the pattern and then re-assessed the situation. Instead of cutting one front panel whole, I made a seam about a quarter of the way up from the hem of the front pattern piece and cut the front 2 pieces of the skirt in 4 parts. The reason I chose to do this on the front and not the back was because I planned to cover the seam line with some sort of trim which would sit better at the front than the back.

The remaining pieces were the yolk style waist band and pockets, which were completed with co-ordinating similar weight small pieces of stash fabric.

I’ve shown the skirt here with the top tucked in so you can see the waistband and pockets but this is only for pictures and I would not normally style it like this.

I didn’t cover the extra front seam with a trim as the final garment didn’t look as if it would be improved by it.

Of course I had chosen this pattern in the first place because the 4 panel construction meant the pattern pieces were smaller.

Cotton shirt M6436

I didn’t make a note of how much of this cotton fabric I had but knew it was less than the pattern requirements for McCalls shirt 6436

The sleeve for this pattern is made of 2 pieces so I cut what I could from the main fabric then selected a contrasting but similar weight cotton for one sleeve back, pocket and button band. I am pleased with the result which enabled me to make a garment from 2 small fabric pieces. I knew finding a small piece to go with the main fabric would be no problem because I have a lot of these in quilting type cotton and the sleeve being in 2 pieces was a bonus.

M8379 Wrap dress in stretch jersey

Things started out well with this vogue wrap dress V8379 with the skirt and front bodice pieces coming out of the fabric whole and as designed.

I did have at least 2 metres of 150cm wide fabric but this dress uses a lot. The sleeves were shortened and cut on the cross grain but then things began to get tricky. There was virtually nothing left for the back bodice, belt and collar. I slept on it and hoped that inspiration would come, and it did.

I raided my fabric stash and found some skinny rib fabric in black which was sufficient for the belt and collar then gritted my teeth and cut the back bodice from 4 small pieces, breaking all grainline rules but with the polka dot design you can’t tell that much.

The collar and belt work well with the main fabric and I think I can just about get away with the back bodice being pieced together, which seemed a better option than using a contrast fabric on this occasion.

Its become almost a challenge for me to sew this way and part of the reason I do it is to use up my smaller pieces and be left with fewer new ones from each sewing project.