To Hack the Hemlock Tee Pattern you’ll need:
For sewing a color blocked Hemlock Tee you’ll need:
Hacking the Pattern
Print and tile the Hemlock Tee pattern. For more information on how to print and tile PDF patterns check out How to Use PDF Sewing Patterns on the Coletterie. Once assembled you should have three pattern pieces: a front, a back, and a sleeve. If you plan to make alterations on the tiled PDF continue to step 2. If you’d like to keep your Hemlock Tee pattern pristine for future use transfer the pattern onto tracing paper.
Step 2- Draw Seam Lines onto Pattern.
I find that the most challenging aspect of color blocking is keeping track of pattern edges that need a seam allowance added. The best way to avoid confusion is to draw seam lines on the pattern before you start hacking. The Hemlock Tee pattern includes 3/8 inch (1 cm) seam allowances. I’ve marked out 1 inch (2.5 cm) for finishing the sleeves and body. Remember that the center front and center back do not have a seam allowance since these pieces are cut on the fold ( I almost messed this up when making illustrations for this tutorial 😉 ).
Step 3- Draw Areas that You Would Like to be Contrast Fabric Onto Your Pattern Pieces. Make Sure All Areas Include a Grainline.
Now the fun begins! Mark out the areas on your pattern that you would like to be in contrast fabric.
Remember to account for seam allowances if you’d like sections of contrast to intersect across seams (fortunately we’ve already drawn in the seam allowances so they will be easy to keep track of).
I’ve included the outline (dashed red lines) for my color blocked Hemlock Tee in the illustration above. I altered the pattern so that a 2 1/2 inch (6 cm) stripe of contrast fabric runs along the top of the shoulder and down the sleeve ending in a contrast band at the sleeve hem.
Drawing in these changes is fairly straight forward on the sleeve. The Hemlock sleeve is symmetrical so the center of the sleeve can be determined by drawing a line parallel to the grainline from the sleeve cap notch down to the sleeve hem. I wanted my 2 1/2 inch (6 cm) contrast stripe centered on this midline so I drew two lines parallel to the grainline 1 1/4 inch (3 cm) from the sleeve center. The contrast at the bottom of the sleeve is 6 inches wide. This alteration line should be parallel to the sleeve hem to create a band of even width at the wrist.
The shoulder contrast is a bit trickier because you need to pay attention to the 3/8 inch (1cm) seam allowances at the shoulder. Fortunately we’ve drawn seam allowances on the pattern to remind us. If you look back at the sleeve you’ll notice that none of the seam allowances crossed by my alteration lines affected the width of the contrast stripe. Therefore no seam allowances figured into this calculation. To create a continuous line of contrast across the shoulder and down the sleeve the shoulder contrast must be 2 1/2 inches (6 cm) wide like the sleeve contrast. To center the contrast stripe on the shoulder both the front and back pattern pieces will be altered. Half of the contrast stripe will come from the front pattern piece and half from the back pattern piece. Again half of 2 1/2 inches (6 cm) is 1 1/4 inches (3 cm). However we also need to account for the seam allowance at the shoulder because the seam allowances affect the width of our contrast area. If we were to forget about these seam allowances the contrast width would be 1 3/4 inches wide (3/8 inch lost from the front seam allowance + 3/8 inch lost from the back seam allowance) rather than 2 1/2 inches. 3/8 inch (1 cm) for seam allowance plus 1 1/4 inch (3 cm) equals 1 5/8 inch (4 cm). Draw a line parallel to the front shoulder 1 5/8 inch (4 cm) from the pattern edge. Repeat this step on the back pattern piece.
Now that you have divided your pattern into areas for contrast and main fabric make sure that each area contains a grainline notation (red double arrows in the illustration above).
Step 4 – Cut Pattern Pieces Along Alteration Lines Drawn in Step 3. Add 3/8 inch Seam Allowances to New Edges.
Cut pattern along alteration lines drawn in step 3. Each cut creates two new pattern edges. To each of these new edges add a 3/8 inch (1 cm) seam allowance. The seam lines we drew in step 2 will become very handy for keeping track of which edges have a seam allowance and which new edges need to have a seam allowance added. Remember the center front and center back do not need seam allowances since these pattern pieces are cut on the fold.
While we’re at it go ahead and relabel your pattern pieces. I’ve labeled mine A through H. Color blocking can drastically increase the number of pattern pieces you are working with so it’s important to stay organized. You’ll notice that pattern piece B & D look very similar after cutting the pattern. However, pieces B & D have different neckline curvatures so it is important to keep track of which piece will be sewn to pattern piece A and which will be sewn to pattern piece C. In this case pattern piece B with be sewn to A and pattern piece D will be sewn to C.
Step 5 – Merge Shoulder Pieces (B & D) To Create One Pattern Piece for Shoulder Contrast.
To eliminate unnecessary seams I combined pattern pieces B and D to create a single contrast piece to run along the top of the shoulder. I recommend labeling the neckline and shoulder seam on both piece B and D since the small edges on these pieces are difficult to distinguish.
Once labeled flip over pattern piece B so that it’s shoulder seam can be matched with the shoulder seam of pattern piece D. Notice I have placed the shoulder seams on top of one another and not the edges of the pattern pieces. When the shoulder seams are properly aligned the neckline will form a continuous curve. Tape pattern pieces B and D together to form one contrast piece B+D.
Finally, we need to reconcile the grainlines from pattern piece B and D. I wanted pattern piece B+D to appear continuous with pattern piece F (the sleeve contrast). To achieve this look I created a new B+D granline running parallel to the old shoulder seam. This grannie will match the pattern piece F grainline at the sleeve seam.
The pattern piece above is completely functional, but if you would like to retrace a neater copy the shoulder seam and old shoulder edges can be removed. However keep track of which half came from pattern piece B and which half came from pattern piece D as this information will be important when constructing the top (you will need to know which edge to sew to pattern piece A and which edge to sew to pattern piece C). Keep a 3/8 inch seam allowance around the border of the new B+D pattern piece.
And that’s it we’re all done altering the pattern pieces so now it’s time to cut some fabric.
Cutting Your Fabric
Cutting will depend on your particular color blocked design, but good labeling of the pattern pieces really helps prevent mix ups. Pay attention to grainlines and which pieces need to be cut on fold.
If you are replicating my Hemlock hack pattern pieces A, C, E, & G will be cut from the main fabric and pattern pieces B+D, F, and H will be cut from contrast fabric. Cut 2 of all pattern pieces except those cut on fold (A and C).
The order of assembly will be dictated by your color block design, but as a general rule pattern pieces are sewn together along edges created from the same alteration line. For example pattern pieces A and B were created by cutting the original pattern piece 1 along an alteration line (see step 4 in Hacking the Pattern section). After adding seam allowances this alteration line has become the seam line on both pieces. A and contrast B are eventually joined back together along these seam lines when the top is constructed. Of course the pattern I created above is slightly more complicated because pattern pieces B and D were merged into one, but now you can see why it was so important to keep track of the side which came from pattern piece B.
If you are replicating my Hemlock Hack begin by sewing pattern piece A to B+D along edges noted with a pink number 1. Right sides together sew B+D to C along edges noted with a 2. Sew pattern piece E and F together along edges marked with a 3. Sew piece G to piece F along edges marked with a 4. Finally sew contrast band H to combined pieces E, F, and G along edges marked with a 5. From this point you can sew the top as described in Jen’s Hemlock Tissue Tee Tutorial. Just jump into the tutorial at step 4. And one final note I finished my Hemlock with a folded over edge rather than a neckband.
I hope this tutorial gave you some insight into the logic of color blocking a pattern. Using this technique opens up a whole world of pattern variations!