Simple Hack, Big Impact

By Kate from Sewing from Scratch

Most of us sewists are always looking for ways to stand out, wear unique garments, and express our beautiful selves through our wardrobe. Pattern designers have given us great starting points with their products, but what about when you’re bored with everything you’re sewing and want to add a little … “extra” to your sewing practice?

You’re ready for hacking 

Hacking can be anything from adding length to a sleeve or bodice, to mashing together a top pattern and a shorts pattern to make a fun romper, to totally re-imagining the entire pattern and using it more as a sloper or base than anything. 

If you’ve been ogling all the great modifications you see on instagram and beyond, it’s time to start doing some fun experiments, yourself.  Today I’m going to share a really basic hack with loads of potential and endless possibilities that will get your feet wet and give you that taste that you’re craving (and hopefully be the “bite” to get you making all kinds of amazing one-of-a-kind garments!).

Adding a center seam

In a recent make of mine, I decided to add a bit of interest with a center front seam. That quickly evolved to include a center back seam, as well as cover-stitched shoulder seams. Here’s how I did it. *I recommend using a pattern you have already tried, tested and love. Something a bit more elevated like the Parker Peplum would add another level of sophistication to this hack.

  1. Grab your sewing pattern front piece and tape a strip of paper to the center front fold line, the entire length of the top. You’ll want this to be larger than your seam allowance in width. I would recommend ¾ – 1” wide for woven patterns, and ½ – ¾“ wide for knit designs. *If your pattern has a full piece for front or back, just cut it down the center and then add seam allowances on to each side.
  2. Measure out from the original fold line edge the distance of your seam allowance. Let’s use ½“ as our example. Make marks all the way down, then connect them to make one solid line, parallel to the original fold line. *Pro tip, use a quilting rule for quick work of this step.
  3. Extend the top neck curve and bottom hem to meet up with your new cut line. This is now your pattern piece. Repeat with the back, if you wish.
  4. Cut out TWO MIRRORED PATTERN PIECES for your front (and/or back, as desired). Let your imagination run here. Go ahead and use two different prints or one solid. Flip your stripes. Use a sheer fabric with denim or canvas. Do something totally unique. 
  5. Sew the two front panels together using the seam allowance amount that you determined when adding the extra width. Finish seams however you wish. I like serging each seam allowance, pressing them open and topstitching, but don’t be afraid to try some cool seam finishes like flat felling or Hong Kong seams.
  6. Construct the remainder of the garment as usual.

The impact

As mentioned, the limit does not exist for experimentation with this simple hack. It’s also worth saying that this easy seam addition will carry you through multiple modifications and can be used to make all kinds of other colour-blocking changes to your garments. The most important part is adding the seam allowance. After that, let your imagination be your guide.

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