Franken Patterns

Mary Boalt

When looking for a definition of Victor Frankenstein’s monster, I found this: In an unorthodox experiment, an obsessed scientist assembles a living being from parts of exhumed corpses. I couldn’t think of a better way to start this blog!

As wearable artists, we too can become obsessed with assembling disparate parts, incongruous elements that turn our garments into something that brings life to our wardrobes. My sister, a rather new sewist, has become a master at fearlessly blending different pattern parts to make what suits her. She calls these “Franken Patterns”. Don’t we love that option? To leave sleeves off of a coat and make it a vest? Or to add sleeves? Change necklines? Add darts or pleats? Take off a collar or add two collars? Paint, dye, bleach or bead the fabric? And don’t even get me started on pockets! Plus we may even go digging in our graveyard of thrift store scraps to find the perfect details for our creations. Oh what a lucky lot are we!

I’ll start with a pattern I have used many times. Vogue P954. Sadly out of print. Added to that pattern is Sandra Betzina’s drawstring collar from Vogue 1515. Some fabrics that come my way are just asking for some scientific experimentation. This black rayon/tencil like fabric wanted to be bleached. Check my collection of bleach ideas on my Pinterest page. The coordinating rayon was a remnant from Fabrix in San Francisco.

My bleach of choice for this project.

Next up: Marcy Tilton’s Vogue 8934. I lengthened it by quite a bit. Long enough for a tall monster. I left the pleats out at the hemline. A different sleeve has been reset into the armhole. I was inspired by a coat made by Carol Lee Shanks who used tone on tone patches in a most elegant way. It’s very difficult to photograph black. 

And now for the triple decker pockets. There are pockets in the side seams. And there are zippered pockets with leather pulls on top of the large deep patch pockets. Hiding places for snacks!  Monsters get hungry.

Here’s another Marcy Tilton pattern, Vogue 9287. This pattern has a most unusual pocket. It’s not just a patch pocket. Fun to add this little gem to your repertoire of sewing tricks. I’ve been wanting to make a jacket from mixed men’s suiting and have been collecting them for awhile. I chose the collar, front band and pocket to add artwork. The circles are made from hand stamped silks (students from my classes will recognize the stamps), men’s ties and checkered taffeta all placed under black silk organza and top stitched in place. Although I can’t remember the brand of the round buttons, they came on a card and can be purchased at a fabric store. They weren’t anything special. The rectangle part came from a bin of odds and ends. I think from Fabrix. They fit! A monsterous surprise! A hardware store might turn up some unknowing parts for a button in your collection.

Last September Sandra Betzina was the guest speaker at Artistry in Fashion at Canada College. I was inspired to try one of her dresses. Vogue 1552. Be sure to make this in something drapey.  I used a navy ponte knit.

This is probably the most complicated piece of jewelry I have ever made. But in the end, all the pieces are where I wanted them and hopefully it doesn’t look like a giant bolt through my chest! Thank you Victor Frankenstein for helping us all be bold in our desire to create.

And for those of you wanting to spend a few days in a peaceful setting indulging in creating art, the Artistic Alchemy website has the new retreat and class descriptions up and running. We already have quite a few sign ups! Be sure to secure your place as class sizes are limited.

And continue to carry on creatively!

19 thoughts on “Franken Patterns

    • Thank you for the compliments. Yes, I have a hard time not wanting to embellish most patterns. To me, all surfaces are opportunities to add ones own personal touch. Thanks for being a follower and fellow pinner!

    • Thank you for the compliment and I’m glad you enjoyed the blog. We at Artistic Alchemy appreciate all of our followers and fellow Pinners….a great source of inspiration and creative ideas.

  1. Just got back from Healdsburg where I saw a jacket that from the back looked like a baseball jacket with ribbing at the waist, from the front it was a cascade/waterfall design. Definitely a “franked pattern.” This would be a good challenge for SWAG. I want to see you in that blue dress!

    • Isn’t Healdsburg wonderful? Did you stop in at Bowden Designs? They carry some beautiful garments. A “Franken” pattern would make a good challenge. I’ll try to remember to wear the blue dress for our next meeting. I’ll be totally overdressed.

    • Thanks JoAnn. I enjoyed our chat the other night and look forward to being together again in class this September. We’re going to have fun painting like first graders!

    • Thank you Kathie. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and hope it inspires you to “Franken “ your own patterns if you aren’t already.

  2. You are a genius! Love them all. I just started trying to Franken Patterns thanks to your sister. What fun. Your post just inspires me to be braver…keep them coming! Next time you visit here I want to meet you.

    • Thanks Brenda. I don’t know about genius but I do like trying to make things that are different. Patty continues to amaze me with what she tackles. Yes, I look forward to seeing you again when I get down there to visit and would love to see your quilts.

  3. Yowza, Mary Boalt you are ALWAYS an inspiration to me! Get bolder and go for it, like Mary and Patty! Creative geniuses, for sure!

    • That is very kind of you but you know we all have something to learn from each other and something to teach each other! Oh the cycle of inspiration and our interpretation of art and ideas! Isn’t it wonderful?

    • Thank you so much and I’m glad you enjoyed the blog. Yes, it’s always my goal to sew forth and conquer!……..I hate it when I have a “wadder”! So I’ve been trying to slow down and actually produce something of thought and quality.

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