Renee from Nearest the Pin on KCW

PATTERNS: how to make it do more

Hi again KCW sewers – and just as the banner says, it’s Renee here from Nearest the pin. How are your plans coming along? If you’re feeling a bit ‘over’ your pattern stash, then today’s post has come at the right time. Sewed them all before? Need some more inspiration? Well today I’m here to give you a bit of inspiration as to what else you can do with your basic patterns and help you look at them with fresh eyes. Of course there is so much more you can use your patterns for than the picture on the cover and if you hang in there until the end of the post, I’ve got some top tips to help ensure success when tweaking your patterns. So, let’s get to it shall we…..


Image credits: 1. Flaskback Skinny Tee pattern – Made by Rae, 2. collared cardigan 3. sweet blouse 4. zip-up fleece top

So, you’ve made many a skinny tee, but how about some of these adaptations? Version 1, the collared cardigan  is lengthened, a collar is added, patch pockets and a facing is added for the button holes. The sweet blouse (version 2) has the addition of a unique ‘bubble’ ruffle and contrasting bias trim and finally to version 3 – have you thought about creating a flashback in fleece? Given that Rae’s pattern is ‘skinny’ you might want to size up for this one. With this version and version 1 – think about how much seam allowance you will need to add to the middle front if you want to make a facing. Of course, Rae’s pattern is not a prerequisite – any basic tee pattern will do the trick!


Image credits: 1. Clean Slate Pants by Blank Slate Patterns, 2. Harem Pants, 3. Jumpsuit, 4. Capri Pants

Any basic pants pattern will do here. To create the Harem pants you will need to cinch in the bottom of the pants leg with elastic by adding a casing or by shirring. Depending on how ‘harem’ you want them, you might decide to widen the leg pattern piece a little too. Version 2 requires the addition of a top – a good chance to combine two patterns. A word of warning on this one…. think about how your little one will get in and out of these….. do you need to add a zip? an opening with a button and loop?? Also be careful to get the overall length of the body right – nothing worse than a jumpsuit wedgie no matter what your age 😉 Perhaps this would be a great time to take Jennifer’s advice and make a muslin. The capri pants will be a cinch after the jumpsuit adaptation! After shortening the pants leg, gather the fabric, add wide wrap-around cuffs and cute buttons at the back.


Image credits: 1. Playtime Dress & Tunic by Oliver and S 2. peach dress 3. navy dress with collar 4. green dress comes from this boutique (no longer in stock), can also be seen here.

Here are some of the less ambitious changes shown in this post – but they still all look very different don’t you think? When changing a dress with sleeves to sleeveless, you will want to bring the armhole (armscye) in a bit from the shoulder to create a nice sleeveless look. The green version has a higher waistline which is not too difficult to achieve by cutting your bodice pattern off higher and lengthening the skirt. The black ruffles around the sleeve inserts are tulle which gives a great effect.


Image credits: 1. Ballet Wrap Cardigan Pattern by Heidi & Finn 2. Red tee with epaulettes (an unblogged project photo courtesy of Nearest the pin blog 3. Wrap dress with ruffles

Just in case this post was too heavy with lovely girly inspiration – here is one for the boys. Why not take the completely perfect ballet wrap cardigan from Heidi and Finn and create a wrap front tee for boys with some military inspiration (I created this tee for my son when he asked for a Ninjago t-shirt – if you don’t know what that is, no matter, we can move right along…). The addition of an A-line skirt to the wrap top creates a gorgeous dress that can be layered for the current season. I do like a bit of minimalist ruffling and I think this version works beautifully. Now onto our final piece of inspiration….


Image credits: 1. Reversible wrap top pattern by Craftiness Is Not Optional for Birch Fabrics 2. wrap dress with ribbon detail

If you have a little girl and you haven’t sewn this pattern, you must add it to your KCW list immediately! Am I being a tad bossy? I’m not apologising, this pattern is great, so simple and did I mention free? and reversible? There, no excuses 🙂 And once you’re done with your cute little wrap top (which, did I mention, is reversible….. and free), how about creating an A-line skirt and adding cute ribbon detail? Perfect!

Want to create a successful pattern adaptation? Here are my top tips for success:

1. Start simple – if you’re new to this, start small. That way you’ll get a feel for what works and what doesn’t and decrease the number of sewing fails.

2. Keep your fabric choice the same or close to the original – patterns are designed with certain fabrics in mind, so be sure to keep that in your mind when selecting your fabrics. A good general rule would be to keep knit patterns knit and keep woven patterns woven. This is not to say that this rule can’t be broken, but tread very carefully if you do…!

3. Think and think some more – when you make changes to the pattern, stop and think about the implication these changes will have. Added a seam? remember to add seam allowance too. Removed a seam? remove the seam allowance too. Made changes to the neckline? Can your child still get the garment over their head? Think about it and maybe make a muslin to be sure.

4. Leave the armscye alone – I’m not a pattern designer and experience has taught me that the sleeve and the armscye are carefully designed to fit beautifully together. Messing with it is not for the faint hearted. By all means alter your sleeve length or take the sleeve out altogether but changing the armscye on your own….that’s one for the experts.

5. Have some fun with it – enjoy the process and let your imagination run. Some projects will work out beautifully and some will be terrible but you will learn from them all and become a better sewer for the experience. Good luck!!

Phew! That was a marathon. If this post has inspired you to take your basic patterns further I’d LOVE to see. If you’re on instagram, post a photo and tag me @nearestthepin (and add the hashtag #kidsclothesweek), or send me an email with a link to your KCW projects page.

Previous Post Next Post

You Might Also Like


  • Reply erin March 19, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    I loved these Renee! I kind of want you to sort through my patterns and tell me what else I could do with them! 🙂

    Truly though, one of the most interesting things about sewing clothes is seeing exactly how things are put together, and how sometimes the smallest changes can make a great impact. Also, love #4! I have personally tried and failed with this (on the Debbie dress.) And I think I need to have #3 printed on my hand when I’m cutting!

    Can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with! 🙂

    • Reply renee March 19, 2014 at 3:33 pm

      ha ha, yes I’ve failed on number 4 too 😉 You are right Erin, some of these changes are quite dramatic and i agree that you don’t need to alter things too much to get great effect.

  • Reply treen March 19, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    I made the playtime tunic into flannel floor-length nightgowns. My girls LOVE them.

    • Reply renee March 19, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Treen, that’s a fabulous idea 🙂

  • Reply Wagyu Burger March 19, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    I agree with Erin, maybe you can go through my pattern stash and make some suggestions?! :-p

    I will have to confess that often I am too lazy and just want to follow the pattern instructions without putting too much thought into it. But as you have shown, even some minor details can make a big difference!

  • Reply Brooke March 19, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    Great ideas! I actually used the FBT pattern to make a sweater for my son but ended up not liking the fabric so it got trashed. Good motivation to try tweaking some more this next time!

  • Reply jenn March 19, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    I love all the different modifications you’ve rounded up!  Just goes to show what a little ingenuity or fun fabric choices can do to make a good pattern great!

  • Reply abby @ thingsforboys March 19, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    Great ideas! The Flashback Skinny Tee is my favourite thing to remix. Simple patterns are the best…so much potential!

    • Reply renee March 19, 2014 at 10:21 pm

      Oh I’m glad you said this Abby – I was worried everyone would be completely sick of seeing the flashback skinny tee, however, that kind of was the point of the post 😉

  • Reply Tasha March 19, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    I LOOOOOVE this post. For now though, I’m pretending that KCW isn’t any time soon. I’ve got so much to do before April!!!

    • Reply renee March 19, 2014 at 11:59 pm

      Oh no Tasha – I loved all your makes last KCW. Thanks for your comment

  • Reply Jenya March 21, 2014 at 5:27 am

    What a great post Renee! I love simple pattern for this very reason – they can be jazzes up any way possible. Just take a pattern and add a little imagination (and leave the armscies alone haha).

  • Reply suz March 21, 2014 at 7:09 am

    Awesome post renee…well done!

  • Reply Jess March 28, 2014 at 12:27 am

    Great post! and thanks for putting my pattern in there-that made my day! 🙂

  • Reply Fiona March 31, 2014 at 7:56 am

    What great ideas! Certainly helps me to look at my pattern stash differently and see what I can create. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Leave a Reply