Catching the Unicorn

Everyone knows about the mythical unicorn, how uber-cool they are and how they appear on everything from notebooks to cushions these days (yay!).


A well-known aspect of the unicorn is that they are difficult to catch.  This neatly sums up how I feel about finding a Tried and True (TNT) pattern that is actually useful.

For many of us, sewing is an escape from the fact that we don’t fit into the “standard” sizes in stores, for whatever reason.  Some of us will need additional length, some need fuller chest and shoulders, some might need both (that’s me!), and so on.  Add in the fact that the labelling and fit of sizes is totally different between shops… and we all throw up our hands and go learn to sew instead.

We get excited as we learn about the sewing world — we find new pattern designers, beautiful fabric (so, so much fabric), and communities of people like us who are sewing garments that will fit their unique body.  It’s empowering, it’s exciting, it’s nirvana!

Except we still have the same problem.  We still don’t fit into size x from pattern company y without adjusting that pattern for us.  This is the “trough of disillusionment” of learning to sew.  Realising just how loooooong the journey to great fit might be.  It’s also one of the greatest rewards, because now we can do something about that problem.  We grow in skill and understanding and feel the power that comes from mastering techniques and adjustments to achieve increasingly good results.

So this point, for me, is where the TNT is supposed to gallop in — shining in its magical unicorn-y glory.  The TNT is a hard-earned shortcut to great fit.  We put in the work and now we can whip up a new outfit in mere minutes, leaving a trail of sparkly rainbow unicorn-dust in our wake.

Except for me, my unicorn is missing-in-action.  I have precisely one sort-of TNT, which is this pattern:


You will note that this is both an easy pattern and a custom-fit pattern (with cup sizes).  It probably became a TNT for me because it was quick and easy.

I have made it twice. Here is one of them:

V8724 blue

I like both versions of this dress, but I don’t wear them very often.

So what’s the problem?  To help you guess, here are a couple of my “core style” inspiration boards:




Anyone spot what’s missing here???!!!

I think this is the nub of the TNT problem for me – I am trying to catch a unicorn but am spending all my time running after horses.  I don’t feel comfortable in dresses.  So I spend a lot of time making different dresses in an attempt to find the one that will be different, and I don’t invest my time in finding a TNT that will be high rotation and actually useful.

I have decided my TNT month is going to be a quest to find my true TNT (or one of them).  I think there are a number of ways to do this:

  1. Focus in on your style — do something like wardrobe architect or similar to help you work out what you like.
  2. Check your wardrobe — look at the RTW items or makes you actually like, feel good in and suit your lifestyle.
  3. Check your pattern stash — you bought those patterns for a reason.  Time to make them!
  4. Hone in on designers whose patterns seem to fit you better or suit your personal style.  Make it easy!
  5. Seriously consider colour / print / fabrication as you might pass over a TNT opportunity if you don’t love the first try.  No point in chasing a purple floral unicorn if you like wearing basic neutrals and hate prints. 🙂
  6. Check out other bloggers / sewers / people in your life who you are always drawn to — try and work out what it is about their sewing projects that you like and emulate them (see Tribute Month for how to do this!).
  7. Map a typical week — chart what you wear and how you felt wearing it.  You should start to see a pattern of what you end up putting on for most days / settings in your life and whether you were happy with it.
  8. Follow along with TNT month to see how other people found their TNT and what they are making with it!
  9. Don’t make stuff you don’t like wearing.  This might seem obvious, but after sewing clothes for around 7-10 years, it’s only just occurred to me!!!

Any other ideas to find that perfect first TNT?  How did you find yours and how many do you have?

I am off to change into my unicorn-catching outfit (no, it’s not a TNT…) and jump in!

Anyone want to join me in my mythological quest?