I had a big enlightening moment at the end of 2013 that sparked an idea that would overhaul my entire approach to sewing. Last year I was constantly choosing patterns to sew that never got worn, I wasn’t making an effort to alter patterns that didn’t fit, I wasn’t choosing quality fabrics, and I wasn’t properly finishing the insides of my garments (all according to my own standards, of course). After evaluating my ideal wardrobe, and understanding why I wasn’t wearing what I was making, I came up with the Twelve Pattern Challenge. The purpose of this challenge is to create a handmade vintage wardrobe that I will want to wear everyday, that I can wash with ease and I’m proud of inside and out. Quality, not quantity, is the goal.
Here are the basic rules:
- I will pick a total of 12 patterns to sew from in 2014. This is my bank of wardrobe staples.
- I will select patterns from my stash first, but also give myself an allowance of new patterns to purchase.
- I can sew any combination of patterns, in any order, but…
- I will sew at least one pattern every month, and all 12 by the end of the year.
- I will make a muslin for each pattern and perfect the fit to the best of my ability.
- I will concentrate on proper, durable seam finishing techniques in order to really finish each garment.
- Once the fit is perfected, and the initial pattern has been made according to the original instructions, I can re-make and alter the pattern as many times as I’d like.
- I will attempt to use up my stash fabric, but only if the fabric is appropriate for the garment and of good quality.
*If I’m working through a pattern and I discover it’s just not working out (because of construction or fit problems) to the point where it’s no longer fun to work on, I will move on to a new pattern or replace the pattern that’s not working with a new one.
My Pattern Bank will consist of: 2 pant styles, 2 shirt styles, 2 wrap dresses, 2 skirt styles, 1 lounge wear set, 1 handbag, 1 jacket, and 1 blazer.
My Pattern Bank so far:
Pattern Number One: DuBarry 2434B Jacket – circa 1939
Pattern Number Two: Simplicity 4498 Wrap Dress – circa 1943
Pattern Number Three: Advance 3297 Wrap Dress – circa 1943
Pattern Number Four: Simplicity 4139 Shirt – circa 1942
Pattern Number Five: Mail Order Pattern 4821 Dirndl Skirt – circa 1954(?)
Pattern Number Six and Seven: Simplicity Reproduction 3688 Blazer and Pants – originally circa 1944-45(?)
My Pattern Allowance:
I just purchased a six-gore suit skirt pattern (circa 1944) from Vintage4me2, so there’s one more to add to my bank! Now I only have four patterns left in my allowance to find. I’m still looking for a 1930s or 40s loungewear/pajama set that I can wear inside, but will also be acceptable to wear outside (if made in the right material) when walking Lucille in the summer time, or running errands. I need a second pants pattern and shirt pattern in slightly different styles than the ones already in my bank. The one handmade item I DO use every single day is my little tote bag, so I’d like to make another one that’s more durable and more purse like.
I bought an entire bolt of muslin fabric (50% off at Jo-Ann’s!), and I have pattern tracing paper, so there’s no excuse for me not to test fit each one of my garments. I’m also considering the Craftsy class Sew The Perfect Fit in order to help me with any alterations I might need.
I’m going to try to sew from my stash first and foremost, but my stash only has shirt/dress weight cottons in it at this point. I’ll be ordering a lot of fabric online this year since there are NO fabric stores near me (besides Jo-Ann’s and I’m not happy with their bottom weight fabrics recently). I’ll be making an effort to plan new garments with an entire outfit in mind, and I will order swatches before buying unfamiliar fabrics.
Phew! Okay this post is getting slightly long winded but I really needed to spell this all out for myself so I have a solid reference to move forward with. Having a set plan is a big factor in sewing success so I’m just trying to follow my own advice for once ;).
This is the official kickoff to my Twelve Pattern Challenge!
What should I sew first?!
—————– Added 1/21/14 —————–
Many have asked if they can join me in my challenge and the answer is, absolutely, YES! If you’d like to follow along with the Twelve Pattern Challenge, or start a spin-off of your own, I welcome that and think it’s wonderful. I do not plan to make a Flickr group or “official” group at this time because I want this challenge to be very personal for myself and everyone else involved, and I think it’s important to keep challenges like this as focused and stress-free as possible. With that said, I’m using the hashtag #12patternchallenge on Instagram and Twitter if you’d like to check in and share your own projects too! If you’re launching your own version of the Twelve Pattern Challenge, please feel free to comment with a link to your progress so I can check in and follow along with you