Subscribe to updates via email!

Day 75: A Jillian Original

Day 76: An Early Fall Frock
Day 74: Tagalong Dress

Hey Guys!  Remember this dress from Day 65?

Day 75: A Jillian Original 2
Whoa Nelly!

Remember how I did this with it?

Day 75: A Jillian Original 3
Much better!

Remember how I said I was going to cut it up and make something else out of that fab fabric?  Today is that day!

Inspired by Sally over at Charity Shop Chic, I started off with a simple pattern from my vintage stash.  🙂

This is the first thing I’ve ever sewn with a paper pattern, by the way.  I’ve always been really intimidated by the process.  I also don’t like not knowing how well the thing is going to fit until it’s done.

Whatever.  I want to be a better sewist, and sewing with patterns is the next step!  If I don’t learn new skills, this year is going to get awfully boring.  No Fear!

Day 75: A Jillian Original 4
Cute dresses!

I took out the pattern pieces, and began following the instructions.

Day 75: A Jillian Original 5
The front of the cut-up dress, ready for its pattern.
Day 75: A Jillian Original 6
Pinning Pattern Piece fingers firmly crossed!

Much like putting together IKEA furniture, if you follow the instructions, you’ll probably be okay.  🙂

Day 75: A Jillian Original 7
...unless you're Kenyon Yeh. 😉

I had to look up a few terms in one of my sewing books, but it wasn’t a big deal.

Day 75: A Jillian Original 8
sewing my darts...
Day 75: A Jillian Original 9
The back

After I sewed the two sides together, I realized this dress was flippin’ HUGE on me!  🙁  According to the measurements on the pattern, it should have fit perfectly.  Grrrrr!  I took it in on the sides, as well as from the back.

As I got to the finishing touches, I improvised a little with the neckline and the sleeves (I just can’t help myself!)  My dress now looks nothing like the pattern, but I think it looks even better!  😉

Day 75: A Jillian Original 10
A Jillian Original!
Day 75: A Jillian Original 11
Le Back! I made those darts all by myself! 🙂

What do you think of my first foray into patterns?  Are there any nifty beginner patterns out there you’d recommend?

Cheers!  🙂

Day 76: An Early Fall Frock
Day 74: Tagalong Dress

25 thoughts on “Day 75: A Jillian Original”

  1. I am addicted to your blog. For example I am suppose to go to a holiday show but just want to look at a few more of your things. I have been sewing for a long time(42 yrs yikes!) and find Simplicity patterns very ill fitting and would not recommend them. Vogue is too difficult for beginning sewing. So I would stick with McCalls or Butterick(owned by Vogue) If you are just learning about using patterns I wouldn’t start out with vintage ones. The sizing is so different. Like others have mentioned and my mom taught me, you have to iron every seam/dart as you go. When I sew my ironing board just stays up. I would also iron your hem before you sew it. It actually is much easier, and looks better in the long run. I am so impressed that you have re-fashioned so many lovely things w/o having sewn using a pattern! Oh another quick thought…i must get to the holiday show……when making drawstring pants/skirts sans the drawstring and use comfy elastic instead. 🙂

  2. Simplicity patterns are generally easier to follow and have fewer steps than vogue patterns and they also have an easy sew line (I forget what it’s called). Both of these companies and probably McCall design their patterns for cup size b (for normal sizes). I have found Burda patterns to be a better fit for me but I have a different body type than you. Burdastyle offers some free patterns/tutorials as well. My mom usually does a lot of measuring ahead of time and adapts the pattern pieces before cutting them out. Also you can trace the pattern pieces out again if you want to use them for someone else etc. But that is a lot of work. I agree with ironing whenever and wherever it tells you too. Also checking to make sure the dress fits well at different steps along the way helps. As far as pricing…unless you find really good sales for patterns or plan on reusing patterns or making multiple items in the pattern pieces it probably doesn’t save you any money and might end up costing more money than just purchasing clothing the store. It certainly can’t beat your fashioning prices. 😉 Watch out for summer sales though, especially since it is almost the fourth of July. Some fabric/crafting stores will put all their patterns on sale for $1 a pattern. Getting a pattern for $1 is definitely worth it. I think they also do this at the end of a season to clear out inventory. I think I am patterned out though. I have kind of transitioned to tutorials etc. It doesn’t really help that the $1 patterns I bought were pre-pregnancy either….so now they are collecting dust for a bit. It might be the perfect time to try out some refashioning of thrift store items…but with a pretty body in mind. Lol

  3. Hey lady!
    I love your stuff. It has inspired me to get into refashioning again. I love how you look at a garment for what it could be rather than what it is. Kudos!

    I noticed that your darts are looking a little… pouch-y… if that makes any sense. Dunno if anyone has since given you some tips on getting your darts to lie flat but this is the trick I use:
    -Sew the dart from end to end without backstitching, leaving the long tails of the top and bobbin threads… well, long.
    -Take the long tails of the threads and loop them into tight knots as close to the fabric as possible. Double or triple knot to ensure it won’t come undone.
    -Iron those pleats down! I dunno which way they are supposed to lie but I usually decide to fold them towards the center of the garment depending on the design.

    I’ve found that by knotting the ends of the darts instead of backstitching, I can get my darts to lie really flat and sleek. Some people like chunky, pouch-y darts… but if you want them to lie flat this is the best way I’ve found to do it. I hope this helps! Keep up the good work!

  4. Jillian, so honoured to be your inspiration for this project!! 😉
    I think you did a great job. Your fit adjustments are spot on. The problem with working with vintage patterns is that the amount of ease is not the same as with modern patterns – so even though it says your measurements on the envelope, it hangs much looser than you expected. Thankfully with basic patterns this is easily adjusted.
    The only minor thing I would suggest, as someone says above, is that you could press the seams and darts with your iron.
    For pattern beginners, I would suggest avoiding garments with features like zips and set-in sleeves until you feel more confident. Remember to take note of the grainlines to make sure the final garment hangs straight. Also, study the back of the envelope to find out what kind of materials are suggested – there is a big difference between patterns intended for stretchy/knit fabrics and patterns intended for non-stretchy/woven fabrics (this tripped me up a LOT when I started).
    Obviously the most basic patterns have fewer pieces which makes them faster to sew. The beauty is that once you have a basic dress pattern that you like, that fits you, you can come back to it time and time again adding or removing different features, changing the shape of the neckline etc to make completely different garments.
    Very excited that the world of patterns has become your oyster! I love your ‘no fear’ approach and creativity. Can’t wait to see what you are working on next.
    — Sally

  5. I love, love, love your blog and whilst I dabbled in the odd refashion before finding you, you have really inspired me to do a whole lot more. I now have a BIG backlog of dresses that just need a little bit of love and a whole lot of chopping. Compared to using patterns it’s pure instant gratification and so exciting to turn a monster into something nice in under an hour. Patterns can take so long you can often lose the love. Especially those akward zips! You should try Anda from Burda. It’s a really simple but cool pattern. Very flexible and sweet. Loving your work!

    • I love the instant gratification of refashioning! 🙂 It’s the best part! I got really impatient with the hours it took to sew this. I’m definitely not giving up refashioning, but I want to be a better sewist. In a lot of areas, I’m still a beginner. The more I learn about how clothing is constructed, the better my refashions will be! 🙂 I’m going to check out the burda pattern you suggested right now. 🙂 Thanks!

  6. First, let me say how much I enjoy seeing your creations. After being away from sewing for many years, it has really inspired me. Second, a follow-up to the comment above about pressing, when I was sewing more regularly, I found a tool which took my projects up to the next level was a tailor’s clapper (google for various sources, it’s not too expensive). After pressing a seam, you place this wooden clapper on top and press down – it gives a great sharp finish to the project. Also great for flattening bulky seams which you may run into with your refashions. Looking forward to your next creations!

  7. Wonderful – well done! I always find htat Burda patterns are really good and pretty true to size. I have just bought a book on drafting your own patterns which looks good (when I get home will send you the name of it).

  8. Elizabeth is definitely on the button there with the thing about pressing seams; I sew right next to my iron. I just did darts again this week after ages and ages, and remembered (a little too late, but nothing a stitch ripper couldn’t solve!) to press them and also to sew off the edge of the dart and leave ends to tie instead of backstitching to make the points of the dart lie flat.

  9. The finished dress looks great!
    Like others have said, I also have only sewn using patterns and really admire how you you cut things up and alter them. I’m too scared to do that, but as you’ve faced your fears with patterns then I’m going to try winging it!

  10. Nice work! Actually, I learned to sew using patterns but never ventured into the refashioning until I read your blog…thanks for your inspiration.

  11. Some tips from a fellow pattern newbie: follow the grainline! Or else it hangs funny. It can be hard to tell since you’re using premade garments instead of fabric with a selvedge (which is what most people do) but it’s worth figuring out. Also, press your seams! They lay flatter and look better.

    All that being said, don’t let patterns rob of your spontaneity and creativity! I love your fearlessness ^_^

  12. I’m really encouraged by the fact that you are just now learning to use a pattern. I bought a few patterns about a month ago, opened one up and was really intimidated by it- also by the terms etc… the project got set aside….

    If you sew enough to put a blog post every day and are just learning patterns, then I can’t be too far behind!

  13. I started learning to sew with patterns instead of winging it (I was a kid and my mom was teaching me), so I never really found them that intimidating, lol. But fitting is generally the toughest thing, and it takes lots of practice/trial and error. It helps to look at the finished garment measurements rather than the sizing, because then you’ll know if something’s going to end up huge on you when it’s normally your size.

    Also, you might want to check out Sunni’s blog at A Fashionable Stitch–she did a beginner skirt sew-along a few months ago that you might find helpful. I know you’re not a sewing newbie, but she goes through working with the pattern step-by-step too. I’d also recommend the sew-alongs at– she does sew-alongs with her own pattern line that does the same thing. Hope that helps!

  14. Your dress looks good. I think it shows off the fabric better than the original.

    As for beginner patterns, generally, the fewer the pieces, the easier. Also, the more details such as darts, fastening, and embellishments, the harder the pattern generally is.

    Fitting patterns is a whole new skill in itself, never mind sewing patterns. One thing to keep in mind is how much ease is added to the pattern. If you cut out your measurements for a pattern with 4-inches of ease, it will be much bigger than your measurements in a pattern with 2-inches of ease.

    I’m sure you have all kinds of sewing resources and will discover more as you learn to use patterns. I look forward to learning some tips as I follow your work.

  15. Love your first pattern project! I can sew using patterns, but from the time I discovered your blog have been in awe of your ability to just dig in and start cutting/sewing without a pattern. I would totally be afraid to do what you do so well!

  16. I LOVE that you’re venturing into patterns and completely remaking things by sewing them into something else. Now the world is TRULY your oyster! Great job, keep up the good work!


What do you think?