Back in the day, when we did not have so many sewing blogs and resources available, a fellow seamstress recommended me the “Sew U” book series by Wendy Mullin. I ofter return to these books and here’s why. Every book offers several graded basic patterns, and Wendy teaches you how to work with them and gradually expand, using your creativity. Each chapter explains how to modify those basic patterns, and includes not only technical drawings, but also sewing instructions and tips. All the explanations in the books are very clear and understandable. Each of the Sew U books slowly guides you through the entire process of choosing the right patterns, supplies, fabric, to altering the pattern. These books are great for stimulating creativity! Unfortunately, I have been finding that Wendy’s books have become undervalued with recent releases of all sewing books. If you are just an advanced beginner or intermediate in the field of sewing, I could not recommend this book enough! In fact, I wish there were more books like these!
With this in mind, let me show you a couple of self drafted dresses, and a few tops based on a modified pattern and inspired by Wendy Mullin’s books.
These two dresses are identical. The only difference is the fabric and the wait line. The skirt is extremely simple: two squares joint in a tube and gathered to the bodice! For this, you don’t need a pattern making skills, do you! To make the top, I took an old t-shirt, and transferred its contours on the paper. By re-drawing the neckline and extending arm holes by few centimetres, I created a kimono-sleeve top, which I then attached to the skirt. The purple dress, which I created almost two years ago, became one of my go-to dresses. It has got so much wear, that it has started to show on the fabric. I like the shape of this knit dress so much, that last year I made a dressier version of it with a slightly longer skirt.
These tops are made from the same BurdaStyle pattern, but inspired by modifications from the Sew U: The Build by Wendy Guide to Making Your Own Wardrobe book. The pattern had been looking quite appealing to me for a very long time, but I have been too lazy to modify it. I especially liked the darts, which create nice shaping at the front. So, when I finally traced this pattern and started working of altering it, I merged the back button placket into a no-seam back and enlarged the neckline. Then, I lengthened the hem by 7 cm. The armholes in the Burda patterns are quite big and comfortable, allowing a full range of movements without them digging into my skin, so no change required there. Lastly, I used the sleeves for two top and completely removed them from another. As easy as that!
As you can see, each top looks quite different, but I did not spend many hours working on the basic pattern. Have you also noticed a recent trend, where many sewing books and patterns appear to be targeting beginners? I feel like I am almost ready to release my first sewing books, featuring my top collection :) Kidding!