Learning how to Adapt and Alter Patterns: Start with 5 And 10 Designs

I came to children's sewing with a background in Theatre Costuming.  When you are designing for a show, the sky is the limit.  You read, get inspired, sketch... and rarely take into account existing patterns to create the vision in your head.  I learned patterning and draping in my time at College, but I also learned a TON about adapting existing patterns to get the look I wanted.

Knowing how to adapt the patterns in your stash will extend the range of WHAT you can sew, and of course help stretch your budget.  This may sound like a scary experiment and a recipe for disaster - but I promise, once you start trying, you will love it.

Five designers teamed up in 2013 to create Five and Ten Designs, the idea was to design a basic bodice block and then Ten completely different visions using it.  Essentially Volume One is your training guide on how to alter a pattern to get exactly the look you want, and they have take all of the guess work out for you.  There are printed pattern pieces for the bodice, cap sleeve, long sleeve, collar, and two pockets.  Then there are detailed cutting charts for each version and variety of skirt.  But wait... there is more!  Some of the looks use the bodice as is, but then as you gain confidence, you can step further and start recreating the bodice.  Detailed instructions with gorgeous photos are given to create looks that you would never believe all derived from the same base elements.

The price is $25, and you get not only the 10 unique designs; you also get an education that you can use and apply to your other patterns.  No longer will you see something in a store and cry that there isn't a pattern on the market exactly the same, you will have the confidence to find a pattern that is similar and know how to alter it to create exactly what you want... well within reasons ;o)  Volume One covers size 12m-10y, a great range for the littles in your life and perfect for coordinating Easter Dresses!

So far, I have sewn up three of the 10 looks... my goal is to finish sewing the remaining 7 in 2014.... Keep your eyes out!!!

I was able to sew up looks #5, 6, and 8

left to right: #8, #5, #6

left to right: #8, #5, #6

Let's break them down one by one:

Look Number 5 -

I fell in love with this look because of the sides... and I must say, that out of the three is it probably my favorite.  This version uses the basic bodice and the Cap Sleeves.  You then alter the bodice block according to the instructions to create the half circle cut outs on the sides (which are actually a quarter circle on both the front and back bodice pieces).  The lining is the basic bodice as is.

The back buttons up.  At the end of the day this dramatic look is fairly simple to achieve.

Look Number 6 - 

I love love love this design - and yet I almost threw it in the trashcan while making it. There is nothing wrong with the pattern or instructions, but please please don't try to start out with a super complicated herringbone print!  Out of the three I have made so far, this pattern was the most complicated to draft the additional pieces for.  It didn't take too long, just longer than the other two.  I love the final look and plan to make another since the pieces are all drafted now ;o)

The Back closure is a  done with a button and loop.

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Look Number 8-

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I was pulled to this version for the Pockets - oh how I love those pockets!!!!  And they are very simple to make.  The Pocket pattern piece is included.  I added the Bow to this look to pull in more of the red.  The Bodice is the basic Bodice Block shortened to an empire waist line - such an easy alteration!

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Now the back is where I took some liberties... I may have miss-cut the back skirt sections (cutting three dresses and making all the alterations in one night may have been a bit too much for my poor brain ;op).  I realized my mistake when I realized there wasn't enough fabric to get more than one pleat in the back... oops.  I didn't have enough green to re-cut, but I had some extra red to add in.  Thus the color contrast insets - this is another area where I created way more work for myself than necessary!

This version buttons all the way up the back with 8 buttons... I did covered buttons because it was fun and just went perfectly with the dress.


Thank you so much to the whole team at Five and Ten for letting me sew up these gorgeous creations.  If you haven't picked up your own copy of Volume One, grab it now - it also now includes a Long Sleeve Add On so that you can do sleeveless, cap sleeves, 3/4 sleeves, or long sleeves!

*All three of these dresses were sewn up with fabric from Camelot Fabric and were sent off to their Fall Quilt Market - thus no pictures on baby girl.