Dr Frankenpattern strikes again!

I can’t even remember the last time I made a dress from just one pattern. I’ve always liked frankenpatterning, but lately I’ve really been treating my pattern stash as more of an ingredient list than a recipe book, with individual elements to be extracted and combined to make the item I have in my head. Here are a couple of my recent concoctions.

Along the lines of my actual-weather-appropriate sewing epiphany, I wanted to make a doubleknit dress with cap sleeves. I love my two sweatshirt dresses (doubleknit with tall midriff and short full-ish skirt), and wanted another one. I immediately thought of Vogue 8685, which I made in the pencil skirt version years ago (and is sadly too small now). That pattern does have a full-skirted version, but I didn’t want the weird skirt yoke or a circle skirt. I grabbed the skirt from Burda 7739 instead. I considered using the trusty midriff from Simplicity 2281, which I have used several times for various frankenpatterns, but I went with the one from the Vogue for matchings-sake. I created my own pleats in the skirt, both because I didn’t want two dresses with the same pleats and so I could make the skirt match up to the midriff.

vogue 8685 frank

And, well, it kind of worked. As sometimes happens with me on center-pleated or -gathered skirts, the skirt pulls funny to the sides, like I need the fullness distributed more towards the edges rather than all in the middle. This seems to be exacerbated by the presence of side seam pockets (which I couldn’t bring myself to take out because I really like pockets when the fabric is heavy enough to hold my phone). I think I need to cut a bigger size in the hips? Or a steeper curve in the skirt from waist to hips? Or to just abandon center-weighted fullness? For now I’ll just keep my hands in the pockets to mask the problem.

vogue 8586 frank 2

Because I made it in a solid fabric, I wanted to add some detail so I topstitched on either side of all the shoulder/raglan sleeve seams and on the top and bottom of the midriff. In an attempt to make a clean and easy neckline finish, I zigzagged skinny clear elastic to the wrong side of the neckline before I turned and topstitched it, but I could’ve done without – it’s a little gathery because I didn’t get the elastic tension quite right.

vogue 8685 frank back

The fabric is a nice very slightly variegated ponte I found on a bolt at the Michael Levine Loft earlier this year. I’m hopeful that because it’s not one of the usual pontes I see everywhere (Sophia Double Knit, I’m looking at you), it won’t have a big rayon content and so ideally will be more impervious to pilling. Just in case, I’ll try to mostly dry this dress flat rather than in the dryer, which I like to think helps delay ponte’s inevitable decline into a textured pilly mess.

Frankendress number two started, as they usually do, with a dress I saw at Boden a while ago. I liked the idea of a striped tank top dress with a chevron circle skirt. So off I went into the pattern stash. My trusty half circle skirt is from the Tiramisu pattern, and for the tank bodice I pulled out McCall’s 6109, which I made in the cowl variation a couple years ago and I absolutely love and wear all the time. I sort of used the midriff pattern to make the waistband, cutting it the same width but about half the height to get the narrower waistband of the inspiration.

mccall 6109 frank

The bodice I made as drafted, in the same size as my other version, but the tank view seems a bit shorter in the bodice than the cowl view. I also found the neckline too high and small. This was probably because the pattern instructs you to just fold over and stitch the neckline – I wanted a neckband, but I stupidly didn’t cut the neckline down at all to accommodate one. I ended up cutting off my first neckband and sewing on a fresh one, which brought the end result back to what was drafted (which I still find a little high and small). It’s also one of those deep scoop necklines that is really hard to get a flat neckband on. I should always remember to make neckbands with steep curves narrower than I’d like, so they’ll maybe actually lay flat.

mccall 6109 frank back

I hadn’t intended to make the bodice have vertical stripes, but when I went to lay out my fabric (a rare JoAnn purchase, which of course means that it’s already pilling and has taken on color from everything I’ve washed it with), I realized that it’s a vertically striped fabric with just two-way stretch, so vertical striped bodice it was. Luckily the direction of stretch doesn’t really matter in a circle skirt, so I still got my chevron front seam.

mccall 6109 frank skirt

As with most of my Frankencreations, I mostly am happy with the outcome but they’re not perfect. (Wait, that might be how I feel about all of my finished garments… but somehow it’s more personal with a pattern I assembled from assorted pieces.) The waistline on both dresses is slightly higher than I’d like it to be. Such is the danger with sticking a bunch of random pattern pieces together. I’m lucky in that I seem to be neither long- or short-waisted, and the big 5 patterns generally hit my waistline just right without adjustment. But something about the lazy mix-and-match I do throws that off slightly. I suppose I should make the effort to actually measure and check those things, eh?

Even imperfect as they are, I have a special place in my heart for all my Frankenbabies. I’ve already worn both these dresses a ton. I also made the bonus discovery that a circle skirt is fun to bounce in, when I wore the striped dress to a friend’s birthday party that had a bouncy house (yes, my friend is an adult, no, there were no children at this party, and yes, bouncy houses are absolutely for grown-ups too. So. much. fun.) BOUNCE!

frankendress in bouncy house

  1. I love how you put different patterns together. I am never quite brave enough to do that – I just worry that I’ll mess it up and never wear the result. I like both of these, particularly the stripes!

    • aleah said:

      Ha, I think I always mess it up and wear it anyway! Go for it, it’s very liberating 🙂

  2. Becky said:

    I had a dress almost idential to #1 a few years ago and absolutely wore it out. I love that style. It is flattering and comfy. I think all you need to do is redistribute the fullness toward your hips if you make it again. Your instincts are probably right, too much fullness toward the center. I like everything about it, even the sleeves. Great make!

  3. both are very cute. that stripe dress is fantastic, i am so into stripes this year and this is a great interpretation. on the green dress the sides of the skirt pieces need more length,so add at the top of the sides tapering to zero at center. the top of the skirt curve at the waist is not a good match for the waist piece. you can see it on the back view, imagine releasing the skirt at the sides they would drop down. a simple fix when you make it next, and you should!

    • aleah said:

      Ah ha! That makes a lot of sense. I’ll try to remember to curve the top of the skirt next time I franken it to a random waistband!

    • Yup. Yupyup. Just like she said. I make and unmake the same mistake. I chalk it up to not using the same pattern pieces together twice AND not leaving decent notes on the pieces. I love my seam ripper!

  4. I love the blue dress! Perfect frankenpattering! And lovely colour, definitely suits you! Perfect stripe matching on the second dress. Well done!

  5. lisa g said:

    great dresses! i particularly love the turquoise dress. hope you work out the skirt issues for another version, it is so flattering and i just adore the pleats!

  6. Jill said:

    Frankenbabies, haha! They both look great, but I really love the color on that first one 🙂

  7. Leah said:

    Good job! I think frankenpattering means you have reached a high level of sewing ability. Of course it doesn’t always work out the way you plan – but hasn’t that happened with using just one pattern??

  8. These are great. I’m only just getting used to sewing with knits and I find them really tricky, so I am totally in awe. I Love the turquoise dress, the shapes you put together are lovely. You certainly have an eye for pattern mixing.

  9. At the risk of being a nudge, I really do like where the gathers/pleats on the turquoise hit you; they are really flattering there. I am redrafting even now. I don’t see a clear option to unpick the stitching on the knit without many tears. Heavy objects in both pockets at all times? (I will work for pockets. I love them). And the striped dress is perfect.

    It’s always a little sad when the dress/pants in the not-so-great JoAnn fabric (when did they move to their own brand? Ick.) turns out to be a winner. I made myself some jeans that are cute and super comfy and the fabric won’t last the summer. Poor timing for a karmic lesson if you ask me.

  10. Nhi said:

    Both dresses turned out great. I think you need to name your Frankenbabies like Vogurda. Or maybe you shouldn’t get too attached especially with the JoAnn’s fabric one.

  11. Frankenbabies are the best! Not that it’s likely, but that means you *really* have a unique piece, and you never have to worry about running into another sewist who made up the Tiramisu or something…not that that’s what you worry about, but you know. Both of these dresses look like they would be good wardrobe staples, and as you say you’ve worn them a ton already, so I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself re: waistlines and such!

  12. I really like both of these dresses. Mixing and matching patterns can be so much fun!

  13. MsMcCall said:

    How did I not see this post until now? My blog reading is very very behind! I love both of the dresses especially the graphic effect of the black neck band and the chevron skirt. How lovely when franken babies grow up to be exactly what you were hoping for 🙂

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