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The Core: Gathered Side Panel

This last year has been trying for so many of us: but I have found great joy in making myself pretty clothes for everyday tasks like school runs and grocery shopping. There is something about dressing up a little for these trips that makes me happy and my troubles seem just a little smaller. I knew right away what fabrics I wanted to use: I'd been eyeing them up for a few weeks, but didn't know what to make myself since I didn't have much of either (less than a yard). Both are double brushed polyester (DBP): I used Navy Pin Dots and gray that I received in an ALD mystery box. I just love how they look together, don't you?

The Core is seriously my favorite athletic tee. I made one in Venus and Black Power Net (currently sold out) to wear for hiking and it has been perfect for keeping me cool on the trails this summer. I just knew it was the perfect pattern for my sew. I still wear my Gathered Side NSCS all the time, so a gathered side panel Core was exactly what I wanted to try!

I work with a projector, so I try to do most of my modifications in Inkscape, which is a free software that allows you to manipulate pdf patterns (and so much more). Projectors for Sewing is a great Facebook group to help with troubleshooting projectors and Inkscape. The first thing I needed to do was import the pattern into Inkscape and pull out the pattern piece I needed to work on and copy it into a new file.

** Do not be discouraged, you can use the same process with paper pattern pieces, a little extra paper, and a hard ruler. I will describe that process after the Inkscape process.**

Looking closely at the piece I decided to split and add length where the panel straightens out. This is where things get a little tricky if you're not familiar with the software and there are different ways to do it. I will be showing you my preferred method; editing and shifting the nodes (nodes are used to mark line changes). The first step is to click the button just below the arrow on the left toolbar in Inkscape: the toolbar at the top of the window will change to show you the different ways to edit nodes (shown in the picture below). Now click on the pattern piece to see all the nodes on that path. Luckily, there were nodes right where I wanted to add length so that made things a little easier. I broke the path at these nodes on each side of the pattern piece.

Before I started shifting I needed to know how much length I could add to the pattern piece since I was working with scrap. I had a little over 3" extra and I wanted to maximize the amount of fabric used. I used guide lines and the ruler to measure 3" from the top of where I broke the nodes. To access the guide lines hover your mouse over the ruler at the top of the screen, an arrow should appear, click the arrow and drag the line down where you need it. Repeat to get a second line. The measuring tool is at the bottom left hand button on the side toolbar. I measured the distance between the two lines until they were close to 3". The picture below shows the guide lines in place with the location of the measuring tool stacked on top of it in the lower left corner.

Next I selected all of the nodes on the bottom section of the pattern piece and used the down arrow on my keyboard to shift the nodes down to the second line. I can click and drag, but I wanted to make sure I didn't shift my pattern to either side. The final step was to draw a new line to fill in the gaps. Release the selected nodes by clicking off to the side, then select the nodes at the gap on one side of the pattern piece and click the button at the top of the toolbar that draws a line between two nodes. I always choose this rather than joining nodes when filling a gap because it may significantly shift pattern lines on more curvy pieces. The top image in the collage below shows the separation on one side of my pattern piece before adding the new segment. The bottom image shows the button on the toolbar that I select to add a new line between the nodes. I do not have the nodes selected yet.

Before deleting the guide lines and saving my new pattern piece I drew a new pattern marker at the top line so I knew where to stop my gathering when sewing. I also changed the color of my new pattern piece so you could see the difference in my pieces. Now it's time to cut!

Paper Adjustments

If you're more comfortable making adjustments using paper patterns or do not use a projector it's easy to make your pattern piece longer on paper too! The first thing I do before touching my pattern piece when adding length is to mark my extra piece of paper. Draw two lines parallel to each other by the amount of length I need to add. To make it easier to line up your pattern pieces draw a line perpendicular to your other lines, at about the center of the paper. You'll be able to match the grain lines on the pattern to this line after splitting your pattern piece.

Cut across the side panel piece where you want to add length: I use a hard ruler to make sure my line is straight before cutting (see picture). Line your cut pattern pieces up on your extra piece of paper, using your drawn lines and the grain line to make sure everything is straight. Redraw your pattern lines, mark the top of your split on each side, and cut out your new pattern piece.


Now we're on to the fun part, sewing!

Cut out all of your pattern pieces, marking on your lengthened side panels where you want to start and stop your gathers (mark up 1" from the bottom for hemming, and where you marked your pattern piece at the top of the split). Because I only lengthened the side panels I am using a gathering stitch instead of elastic to shorten them before attaching them. Sew a long basting stitch in the seam allowance between your marks on each side of both panels. Pull your bobbin thread, shortening the panel edges to match the original piece. I double checked by comparing it to a non-modified piece. Projector users can project the original and lay the gathered panels down to check length. If using a paper pattern piece you can fold the adjusted piece to close the gap. Make sure you have it laid properly, keeping the front and back aligned properly.The collage to the right shows the pattern marking, initial gathering and comparing to the original pattern before spreading them out.

The nice thing about using this method is your can decide where you want your gathers to sit. I tried them all at the top of my marking, and spread evenly between the markings. I preferred them spread throughout. I sewed according to the pattern tutorial, being careful with my gathers by pinning a LOT.

The image to the left shows me trying different gathering options on the top. The bottom left shows the first side sewn in, the bottom right shows both side panels sewn into the front bodice.

At the end I decided I wanted a little more of the blue dots, so I banded the sleeves instead of hemming them by measuring the opening and calculating band length at 85%.

Happy Sewing!

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