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Create Tons of Style From a Basic Pattern

When I first started sewing, I wanted to sew a new pattern every time I sat down at the machine. Part of the fun was making something new and different. I will show my age here, but that was when patterns were $2.50 each at Ben Franklin variety stores, and the only fitting issue I had was adding length to all my hems. Fast-forward to today. A Vogue pattern can set me back about $25 and fitting a new pattern can mean multiple adjustments and muslins, along with adding length to all my hems.

Same basic pattern, different styles

Once I get a pattern to fit the way I like it, I want to use it over and over to make the most of the time and money I’ve invested in it. However, that doesn’t mean I want to make the exact same garment over and over. I still crave the fun of making new and different styles—without having to continually alter and adjust for fit. More and more, I am turning to basic pattern silhouettes that I can make style changes to, knowing the garment will fit when I get it finished. I own several wardrobe basics that are the starting point for most of the sewing I do now. Here are my favorites.

A basic woven T-shirt

My version started many years ago with Butterick 5948. I think I have purchased this pattern at least twice. The basic pattern I use now has been fussed with and tweaked and bears little resemblance to the original tissue paper of its Butterick parent. It fits my broad shoulders and long arms and the back neck-to-waist measurement is bang on, though. Anytime I want a woven top, a shift dress, or a tank top, this is the pattern I start…

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  1. paulaj | | #1

    Very nice garments and great ideas.. Where did the darts go for the jackets and the vest?

    1. User avater
      beckyf | | #5

      Very observant! The Tabula Rasa original pattern does have a small bust dart that comes in from the side front seam. I found that I didn't need the extra ease that the dart provides so I eliminated it in my adaptations of the pattern. Depending on the garment I am making I may also adjust the shape of the side front and back seams to get a closer fit.

      1. paulaj | | #6

        Thanks for the reply. Given that I need the dart, I was just curious. But I can always move it. I have done a few things with the Tabula Rasa - but your ideas are inspirational and I just may copy them in some way. Thanks again!

  2. cowtownkaren | | #2

    Thank you for the inspiration! I love articles like this. Your garments are beautiful.

  3. BJS2023 | | #3

    Wonderful article. You have inspired me to finally start using my Tabula Rasa pattern.
    Your clothing pieces are beautiful!

  4. gwestg | | #4

    Nice work! You are very talented & creative!

  5. User avater
    kathyinaz | | #7

    Great article Becki!!

  6. greymodel | | #8

    Reading this article I found it amusing that the Butterick pattern you mentioned first just happened to be the one I was wearing when I read the article. I had just finished making 3 more versions of it.

    1. User avater
      beckyf | | #9

      I have been making that shirt for years, it just seems to work. I love the pocket with the 90 degree stripes!

      1. greymodel | | #10

        Thank you. The other striped one has the neck binding sewn down on the outside adding a little extra.

  7. Shari_A | | #11

    Love your boho top with the outlined seams!

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