If you read this blog, you know: I am a modifier. It’s exceptionally rare for me to sew or knit a pattern exactly as published. The other day, I got into a conversation with some friends about research a company had done about sewers and basic modifications like bust adjustments, length, etc., and they apparently found that almost nobody does that. One of the others in the conversation said, “What’s the point of making a muslin then?” To which I replied — as if I know this for certain, which I don’t — “People mostly don’t do that either.” (We can talk about the whole “wearable muslin” thing someday.) And I know from talking to so many knitters these past few years that many are loath to tamper with a pattern, even for the simplest of adjustments.
Then there are people like me who can never leave well enough alone. The first thing I do to any knitting pattern is mark all over it — crossing things out, writing in tweaks. My Knitters Graph Paper Journal (literally loved and used to tatters) is full of mod notes, redrawn charts, reworked necklines, re-sketched schematics and tweaked measurements. The first thing I look at in any schematic are the lengths of the body and sleeves, which I almost always tweak. (Sleeves are almost always too short for my arms; bodies are almost always too long for my liking.) If there’s waist shaping, I omit it. Every edging is reviewed for possible alternate treatments. Beyond that, it depends on the pattern. With sewing patterns, I’m most likely to hybridize sizes and redraw neckholes (which are almost always too gaping for me). To me, the main benefit of making my own clothes is this opportunity to customize the fit. But I know for a lot of people — maybe most people? — it’s more important to do what the pattern says and trust that it will come out correctly, if maybe not 100% perfectly fitted. There are definitely risks in tweaking, as well as rewards.
So that’s my Q for You this week: Do you modify patterns, and if so, what do you change?
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