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Tutorial: Color Blocking a Sewing Pattern

I’ll tell you my story, then explain how to change the color blocking of a sewing pattern.

A while ago I decided I needed a new dress, and I didn’t want to buy any new fabric for it. I looked at my stash of fabrics, and my collection of patterns. I didn’t have enough of any one fabric for the dress I chose, even though the pattern did have some color blocking. Decisions needed to be made.

In my stash I found fabrics that were either polka dots, or circles with dots, or just tiny dots, all in black and (off) white. I found that there was enough of these fabrics to almost follow the pattern’s color blocking. But not quite. So, I decided to make a wide band around the bottom of the dress. That would work. I used tracing paper and made myself a cutting pattern for the needed pieces.

I continued by cutting out my fabric and started sewing. I was ready to sew the bottom of the dress onto the top of the dress. Before I did that, I tried on the top of the dress. Aaarrrrgh! I had cut the top too small! I tried sewing the seams and darts smaller. But nothing worked! Would I have to scrap the dress?

I decided I would have to change the color blocking and cut a whole new bodice. Since I didn’t have enough fabric that would look good with what I had, I set the project aside. Over time I ended up buying three or four different fabrics that had a “circle/dot” theme.

This month I finally decided to finish my dress. I “auditioned” the new fabrics with the skirt of the dress to see which worked best. The dress skirt did not need to be recut because of the pleats. I would just make each pleat smaller. Then I verified that I had selected the correct size bodice and cut it out. I sewed the needed pieces together. I again tried on the dress bodice before I sewed it to the skirt.

After comparing my first and final versions, I found that I liked the final version better. Maybe it was a good thing I messed up originally.

Here's how to do it on your own:

Patterns have a drawn image of the dress. If you buy from the “Big 3” companies, the drawing is on the first page of the instructions. How you can change the blocking:

1. Copy the drawing, either by tracing it, with a copier, or by scanning it into the computer.

2. Print/make several copies if you are using paper.

3. Get out your coloring tools (crayons, markers, software, etc).

4. Color the “dress” image with a color that will represent fabric.

5. Continue coloring the image

6. Proceed to make as many changes as you want with the other images.

7. Verify that you have sufficient fabric for the pattern pieces

8. Cut.

9. Sew.

10. Enjoy.

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