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To TNT or not to TNT

2012 March 9
by elizabeth_admin

That is the question. 

In my last post, I mentioned my initial thought to use B5147, my TNT sheath dress, as the basis for my next project, the fuchsia and orange colorblock dress. 



Since I started sewing I have been on a quest to find TNT’s for all my garments (sheath dress, shift dress, knit dress, pants, skirt, suit jacket, etc.).  I have been successful for the sheath dress and the skirt so far.  But when I thought about using B5147 for my colorblocked dress project, I have to admit I was little unmotivated to use it.  Part of it was that I was unsure how to use it properly for the colorblocking.  I was worried that my design lines would be disturbed by the darts on the front and back of the dress.  That’s why I chose such a simple design originally.  The changes in color don’t cross over any of the darts. 


But when I started to think about other patterns for their built-in design lines, I became excited about using a new pattern, getting a different look, learning new techniques potentially.  I’ve made the B5147 dress 4 times now.  I know some would not call that a TNT yet, but I do.  At the rate at which I sew (think a snail’s pace), 4 dresses from one pattern definitely constitutes a TNT. 

What do you think?  Do you  get excited about new patterns or do you prefer your TNT’s and cutting them up to get different looks.  In many ways, I still feel so new to sewing that I want to try different things all the time.  It’s like the sewing equivalent of dating vs marriage.  You don’t want to get married too early when you haven’t dated enough to know what you really want out of a relationship. 

So, which are you?  Are you the of sewing?  Or the get married right out of high school kind of seamstress/seamster?  Do you TNT?

13 Responses leave one →
  1. March 9, 2012

    I definitely TNT—how many times have I made up my jeans pattern? Partly because I often have to make a lot of fitting changes, which can feel kind of exhausting when starting on a new pattern, even when I already have most of them figured out beforehand, and partly because I often like to add my own features rather than use the ones of an existing pattern. I think at least in theory I prefer to hack a plain, known pattern into what I want, vs. jumping into a new one. Which doesn’t stop me from actually *buying* new patterns, mind you. Hmm. Bit of a conundrum there, really.

    I also compare every new pattern to my TNTs (or rather, when I don’t, I suffer the consequences 😉 ) to get a sense of the relative fit. This takes at least some of the stress out of altering a new pattern.

  2. March 9, 2012

    I think I’ve only repeated two patterns in 4+ years. I also have fairly limited time for sewing. So, I tend to spend that time on the patterns that excite me most and are not really things that I could find in RTW. Naturally, these are the sorts of patterns that you only need one of in your wardrobe.

    Honestly, I’m kind of hopeful that some day a TNT will present itself – that I’ll make a dress or pants and decide that it fits so well that I’ll want to perfect it and use it again and again.

  3. March 9, 2012

    Nothing wrong with TNT-ing (I have to admit that I needed to look up “TNT”)! Just because you are using a tried and true pattern doesn’t mean you can apply new techniques and learn something new.

  4. March 9, 2012

    I’ve never made a pattern more than once. I have a few I’d like to try again, but I sew slower than a snail… there is just so much else I’d like to try!

    That said, since I have major fit issues, I think I’d benefit from doing the same pattern more than once.

  5. Karen Mulkey permalink
    March 9, 2012

    I think TNT patterns are the best! Like the other poster I also compare all new patters to my TNTs. Cutting up TNTs can be quite creative and so nice knowing the fit will be perfect.

  6. March 9, 2012

    Well, I suppose I am a bit of both? Right now I am still enjoying testing out lots of new patterns for things like tops, dresses, pants, skirts, etc. For skating costumes I have a TNT (I think when you use one pattern over 30 times it gets TNT status, even if you make changes to the style every single time you use it), though I am experimenting with creating new patterns and styles from it right now. Also, I have used Vogue 1051 three times, and McCall’s 6078 four times. I have a few other patterns I want to make again, but in general, I make a lot of things once and move on to the next. Even though I love the Vogue pants pattern, I keep wanting to explore and try other patterns just to see if maybe I can find something better. I expect that eventually I will “settle down” with a few TNTs, but right now I enjoy trying different brands, styles, and learning how to make fit alterations and adjust patterns to fit my body. Though at the moment I am wrestling with a certain shirt pattern – I can see all the changes I need to make (a lot), and I am debating if I should put all the effort into making the changes, or just try a different pattern (from Burda) where I expect the better sleeve drafting to have eliminated a lot of the fit problems in the first place…

    As for your dress – just because you have a TNT, doesn’t mean you have to use it for every project. If you are really excited by the style lines of one of your other patterns, then use it! I mean, is that not why we stash so many patterns and fabrics? So we can, on a whim, realize that certain things should go together and make it so? While I am all for using TNTs, that doesn’t mean you should avoid using a new pattern if you really want to try it, especially if it has the style you want already all drafted for you.

  7. Nina L permalink
    March 9, 2012

    Why not use both? If you *need* a certain color to quickly fill a gap in your wardrobe, the TNT is going to be quick. Sometimes quick is better than exciting or a learning experience.
    When you need the excitement or the piece MUST be different — a TNT isn’t going to make it.

    I like to use the same basic seams/darts and make incremental changes. Very often, that’s what the fashions in any given year are made up of. You’re only going to get a couple of breakthroughs a year.

  8. March 9, 2012

    I like to use a TNT (which for me probably means made once before!!) when I want a quick result, but otherwise I like to try out new patterns.

  9. March 9, 2012

    I’m still learning so I don’t repeat much because I have so many skills to work on, I have lots of patterns I want to repeat, but no tnt’s yet.

  10. March 10, 2012

    A little from column A, a little from column B. sometimes I don’t want the bother of endless fitting. But altering a TNT to get a very different style is also quite an effort.

  11. Judi permalink
    March 10, 2012

    I use a TNT pattern for pants. For tops, skirts, etc I don’t remember ever using the same pattern twice. I found an oop pattern for tops (McCalls 4632) that I’m going to try and if I like it, I will use the the sleeveless version to make several summer tops…if I can make enough little changes so they don’t all look the same.

  12. March 10, 2012

    It’s funny, I used to almost never repeat a pattern. And then I ended up with a closet of statement clothing and dresses. Sometimes you just need some basics, and I’ve embraced the TNT for pants, button down shirts, and skirts.

  13. March 10, 2012

    I am totally dating around with patterns. I will most likely get married someday.

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