Half the fun of sewing is customizing a basic pattern to your own style, so when  PatternReview.com announced a contest for variations on a single pattern I  jumped in.  It was great fun getting to play designer and my sweet husband was happy to play fashion photographer. My starting point was a basic sheath dress (McCall 6920) fitted with shoulder princess seams.  Here are the looks I created …

The rules allowed for changing necklines, sleeves, length and embellishments, but ruled out many other variations that were included in the same pattern.  I started with View D so I got the pencil skirt and a sleeve to work with.  Here are my three finished garments – one classic, one sporty and one cocktail look.  The quick descriptions below link to more details is separate posts if you’re interested.

Here are my three dresses: 

In each one I added a center front vertical element in some way, hoping to make my figure look a bit taller and trimmer.

The first one – a classic look –  is brown ponte knit, outlined with a self-binding in the blush color of the same fabric.  I was going for “classic” here, but the finished dress was too classic – bordering on boring – and needed an accessory.  The neckline shape didn’t lend itself to my usual scarf or necklace, so I settled on this pin-on flower.  You’ll laugh at the extremes I had to go to find a blush flower in a store in December.

The second one is the sporty variation – also ponte knit.  I had that fabulous teal decorative zipper on hand, so that inspired the teal/pale gray/charcoal gray color scheme and color-blocked detail.  I wore it last night with tights and chunky short booties for an even more casual vibe than this photo.

The cocktail version – the winter white ponte one – gave me a way to use those fabulous lace motifs that I’ve had since I-can’t-remember-when.  (I have them in white too. Does anyone else over-buy like that?)  Using them at the neckline and hemline and extending them with beading gives at least a hint of that vertical effect I wanted. Since the contest parameters ruled out a front-V neckline I cut a V in back instead, and emphasized the mitered trim with more beading.

If you play designer with pattern variations, share your results on our Facebook page and then click “Follow” so you’ll get notified of other’s posts as they arrive. Look forward to seeing your creations.



About Nancy Nix Rice

I help other women feel confident about how they look every day - regardless of their age, budget, lifestyle or the size tag in their pants - so they put wardrobe concerns on the back burner and go share their gifts with the world.


  1. DebbyLA on December 19, 2018 at 2:45 am

    Love you in 3 variations of one pattern. It helps demonstrate your principles of dressing!

  2. Liz Schneider on December 19, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    I’m in awe that you made 3 dresses so quickly!

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