• Camilla

Playing with Patterns : Hacking, by Camilla (@she_sew_fabulous)

2021 seems to be the year that I've embraced the concept of pattern hacking. It comes as no surprise to me how much I enjoy doing it as I'm not great at following written instructions. On the rare occasion when I cook using a recipe book, for example, I begin by following along but then get bored and branch off to do my own thing. My creative brain wants to experiment and struggles to follow a linear path.


I haven't yet properly learned how to make my own patterns (I have done a draping class, which was alot of fun), but hacking lets me put my own creative spin on things without the skill of self drafting. In the long run, I'd love to create my own things from scratch, until then, hacking gives me a fun way to play and experiment.


Here are some of my favourite hacks so far.




My entry into frugal frocks 2021 started life as a Peppermint Magazine Bardon dress. Partway through I decided that I didn't want to JUST make a Bardon dress as I figured it would be quite popular (and it was) so I started to play.

First I shortened the length to above the knee. Then, I added and adjusted the sleeves from the Corin shirt pattern by Cutting Thread and the false placket from Stitched in Wonderland's pocketful skirt. Every time I added on a new feature I loved it even more and it's definitely one of my favourite makes. I love wearing it, I spend the whole day beaming when it's on!




One of my favourite things to do is take one pattern and see how many different ways I can hack it. These three makes are all based on the Helen's Closet Ashton top.

The first one is cropped and colourblocked.

The second is cropped and then has a skirt added.

The third is cropped and then has a peplum added that I measured and pleated myself.

All three of these projects were literally just me playing around with no particular plan in mind and I really love all of them. I'm excited to see what other things I can make from an Ashton base.



This super snuggly dressing gown that I made for my mum evolved from the Sew Over It Jessie Coatigan. She'd been asking me for aaaaaages to make her a dressing gown and I had this pattern in the back of my mind after making the coat for myself, but knew it would need a few adjustments. So, I lengthened the fronts and the collar pieces, added a belt which is stitched on in the middle of the back and voila : coatigan became dressing gown! Mum loved it, so the three needles that broke while making this did not die in vain!!



My most hacked pattern of all is definitely the Stevie by Tilly and the Buttons. These are just three examples and what I did to them :

Bananas : sleeve ruffles and tier from the TATB indigo, turned around so the opening is at the front bit the back, in seam pockets, self drafted collar added.

Lemons : made in stretch fabric, lengthened, no yoke or ties, self-drafted roll neck collar added.

Velvet : made in stretch fabric, long sleeves, no yoke or ties.

I've also made Stevie into a long straight stretch dress and joined the top to the indigo skirt. As it's such a beginner friendly pattern it's a great one for hacking : highly recommend this one as a starting point if you want to give hacking a try.



The Helen's Closet blog is an awesome place to start if you're looking for some hacking inspiration! I used her page to change these Winslow culottes by adding slash pockets and swapping the zip for an elasticated back waist (because comfort is key!) I'm so obsessed with pockets : in seam, slash, patch...I'm happily adding them onto everything!


So there you go : a brief introduction to pattern hacking and the fun to be had therein! I think the most important thing is just to give it a try more than anything else. If it goes wrong or doesn't quite look right : who cares?! The joy is in the process. You win some, you lose some but you always learn something ; that's what I always tell the children I teach! If you've never tried a pattern hack before, check out some tutorials online and give it a go: it's really rewarding once you get into the swing of it and see the pattern evolve and take a shape of its own. Have fun and happy hacking ; can't wait to see your creations!

29 views1 comment