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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!

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