Thursday, May 28, 2015

Modifying Existing Patterns to Fit Your Needs and Style

It's been a while since I've made a new post. Between family and school, I just haven't had the time over the past year. Well, school's out for the summer and I've been looking for ideas. Last night, I sat down to try a pattern I came across on Pinterest and, during a particular frustrating tear out, inspiration struck. 

One of the best things about Crochet is the ability to customize everything you make. It is VERY rare to come across a pattern that cannot be modified in one way or another. 

If you know me, you know that most of the time, I write my own patterns for a lot of the projects I work on. Whether the project is 100% my own, or I've come across something in a store or online and thought to myself "I can totally make that." the process is the same and pattern writing takes time and patience. 

If I come across a pattern I like and the pattern happens to be free, I usually always give it a try. After all, why would I put in all the time and work to make one of my own when someone else is offering up their time and work for free? 

That being said, it is rare that I get all the way through a free pattern without changing something.  Not all patterns you come across online (especially ones that you find for free) are free of errors. In fact, a large percentage of the patterns I come across on line have errors, are written in a way that is difficult for most beginner/intermediate crocheters to understand, or executed in a way that could have been done in a FAR more simple manner. 

The other issue you come across with patterns (whether free or not) is a difficulty in finding a pattern that is exactly what you need/want and that also fits into your personal style. 

Too many beginners are afraid to change up a pattern on their own and they really shouldn't be. As long as you have the basics down and a little bit of imagination, you can modify any pattern to result in something customized exactly the way you want it. 

On to my example:

The pattern I came across on Pinterest was for a zippered pouch.

I highly suggest you give it a try! Aside from one issue I had at the beginning, I think it is a very well written pattern.

The only technical issue I had with the pattern was really about the execution of  round 2 and this was 100% because I felt it could be done in a far simpler way so that's what I did.  If you want to do this pattern and use the more simple way that I did, simply ch 40 like the pattern calls for, work a hdc in the 2nd ch from hook and in each ch to the end. Instead of following the rest of her round 2, simply turn the project and work 1 hdc in the other side of each ch to the other end and join with a slst to the 1st hdc in the round. Then continue with her pattern the way it is written. 

There were a few things I wanted to change about this pattern:
  1. I only had worsted weight cotton (not the DK the pattern calls for) This means that the pattern left the way it is written would have made this pouch HUGE.
  2. I wanted the finished product to be a bit smaller than the one in the original pattern. 
  3. I wanted different colors.
  4. I wanted the color changes to happen twice as often as the pattern calls for.
While the original pattern is FANTASTIC, I still wanted to make these changes so that when I was finished, I had something that fit my needs/style. 

As with any pattern I find online, I gave it a go 100% following the pattern and then decided how to go about customizing it. 

The pictures that follow were that first attempt along with my thoughts on each part:
I think the main thing that really made me fall in love with this pattern was the texture. As you can see, I changed the color scheme right from the start. Color is one of the simplest and most effective way you can customize a pattern. I chose to stick with her original color change intervals (at first) but you could easily do this project in all one color if you want to. 
 This is as far as I went with the first attempt. I could feel that something wasn't quite right and did not see the point of finishing something that was going to be too large for me to use in a practical way. 
 The original pattern has this pouch measuring in at about 9.5 inches wide and as you can see, mine was closer to 11. This was the point I realized that I had made a mistake in regards to the yarn I was using. I read cotton and grabbed the cotton I had. The pattern calls for DK weight yarn which is slightly smaller than the worsted weight I had. Read the materials list on you patterns CLOSELY!
And again, the pattern has the height on this measuring about 6.5 inches and you can see that I'm almost there and I still have a few more sections to go.

So, needless to say, I ripped all of that out and started over. 

Since I wanted the finished project to be smaller than the one in the pattern, instead of chaining 40 like the original pattern calls for, I chained 26. If you are working in DK, you might not want to decrease quite this much as DK is a smaller weight yarn. 

Important: It is really simple to change up the size of a pattern but there are a few things to keep in mind when doing this. 
  • If your project is simple (such as dc in each st across/around) you simply decrease the number of chains/stitches in the foundation row. I
  • f your pattern is a bit more detailed, like this one, you have to take the pattern repeat into account. 
    • Since this pattern is the same two stitches repeated you need to make sure when you decrease this pattern, your foundation chain is an even number. 

The following pictures are of my finished pouch using the modified pattern:

This pouch ended up about 7 inches wide and 5 inches tall. As you can see, Instead of changing colors every 4 rows like the original pattern calls for, I changed colors every 2 rows. I liked the smaller bands of color and it really helped to keep the striped look of this pouch since I was using larger yarn but making a smaller pouch.
This is a great example of how color changes can change the whole look of a project. If I had changed color every row, the white would have faded into the background more and this pouch would have taken on more of a "basket weave" type of pattern.
 This is the opening. Because this was smaller than I had originally planned based on the pattern, I had to cut the zipper shorter to get it to fit.
 I am glad that I made it smaller than the pattern called for because it is the perfect size to hold the small amount of make-up that generally rolls around loose in my purse.  

This pattern was simple to modify, but you can modify patterns for everything from blankets to toys, and purses to clothes. It can be as simple as changing the colors given in the original pattern, the size of the finished product, or adding or removing stripes,

You can also take a pattern of stitches from an existing pattern and use it to make one of your own. I think this stitch pattern would be just as amazing for a blanket as it is for this pouch. 

Don't shy away from thinking outside the pattern. Customizing you patterns is super fun and exciting. I always love the finished product 100 times more when I have changed a little here and a little there to make it 100% my own style. 

Go out and look around for a pattern you can tweak to fit your own needs/style and have loads of fun doing it.

Stay tuned for more blog posts in the near future and as always... 
Happy Crocheting!