Fix this: mitten contest

From a link on Problogger, I found an article entitled 22 Ways To Overclock Your Brain. It was pretty standard stuff but I thought I could use the article as an opener for today’s exercise. Specifically, here are the factors that were listed to increase your brainpower that we’ll be using today:
8. Do A Puzzle
10. Improve Your Skill At Things You Already Do
12. Play
14. Concentration
18. Learn Something New

If you’re game, play with fixing this pattern for a pair of polar fleece mittens. This was the original pattern I’d gotten from a client over ten years ago (I’m still sorting through my racks for oddities). Unfortunately, I don’t have the pattern I corrected as it was sent to the client (who never paid me by the way; it was Jessica the Genius from pg. 192 of my book). The version I made for her were a variation of work mittens that had been manufactured for volunteers employed by the Civil Conservation Corp during the Great Depression. Regrettably, I don’t have the vintage mittens anymore since those belonged to my ex, Mr. Fasanella who inherited them from his father. The design of those were quite interesting and unique; I wouldn’t mind getting another look at those should the opportunity present itself. I think Jessica ended up naming them the C3 mittens (she was into naming everything).

Onto the project at hand, since the weather has turned chilly, maybe we can have a little fun making up some useful prototypes. Let’s have a little contest for the funniest, whackiest or most stylish renditions. We’ll vote on a winner and even have a prize. If you enter, you agree to make your pattern available for free here as a download. However, if someone wants to manufacture your mittens, they’ll have to pay you a licensing fee (nothing outrageous please). Here are the pieces:

You can print out the full size version of the inside piece 140 kb) and the outside piece (152 kb) and staple those to a manila folder to start the project. I’d recommend you start by walking them together. You’ll find plenty of room for improvement. The crazy thing is, Jessica was selling tons of these things but I can’t fathom how they were actually sewn together with any consistency.

So let’s have some fun with this and learn something in the process. Submit your photos and we’ll let everybody vote. The person who submits the best pattern design wins a free book! Email your submissions to me or post links to your project in comments, or both.

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  1. Malissa says:

    Those are some strang mittens I think they’ve warped my computer. I’ve tried printing them 3 different way but my printer is printing 2 ins for every 1 in,I can’t get it to print the whole page and I can’t get it in to a photo editor to resize. FYI…

  2. jocole says:

    maybe this is just because my brain isn’t functioning properly now that i’m preggo, but i’ve read this post like 10 times, is the challenge to make our own mitten pattern, alter the one given, ahhhhh? i’m so confused!

  3. Kathleen says:

    I’ve tried printing them 3 different way but my printer is printing 2 ins for every 1 in,I can’t get it to print the whole page and I can’t get it in to a photo editor to resize.

    I second the motion; printing out jpegs has been a long standing issue on FI. Somebody suggested making pdfs but this doesn’t work either because the software arbitrarily resizes them to whatever it feels like doing so the scale is off. The solution will have to come from one of our gracious visitors. Sorry!

    Yes, Christy, thumb patterning can work like that. That’s why I thought it’d be a fun challenge.

    Jocole: The challenge is to correct this pattern to make your own. This pattern is wrong. You have to fix it. And I know what you mean; when I was preggers, I was hard pressed to add 2 and 2.

  4. Alison Cummins says:

    Kathleen, I’m not pregnant – I just don’t know the technical meaning of the word “correct!”

    I’m thinking that “correcting” would include adjusting the pattern so that the seamlines are the same length and marking up the pattern with standard inks, labels, grainlines and interfacing placement.

    Could it also include adding a piece, like a gusset? Or putting the seamlines in different places? Or changing the position and angles of the thumb?

    Is it taking the idea (a two-piece mitten pattern with thumb peices pointing up and down) and drafting the best pattern that represents that idea, from scratch?

    (I’m telling myself I’m just ignorant, but I am secretly suspecting myself of being obtuse, of making something simple seem complicated.)

  5. Kathleen says:

    Kathleen, I’m not pregnant – I just don’t know the technical meaning of the word “correct!”

    LOL! I guess you’re right. I busted a gut over this because you do not know how many times I have heard “fix this, but don’t change anything” but that’s basically what I’m going to tell you to do! LOL.

    As a pattern maker, you always have to walk a very fine line of fixing the pattern but without changing the designer’s “vision”. They get VERY UPSET if you change their idea. Now, as a pattern maker, you can get away with it if you can make a good case for why it should be done your way. You have to detail the advantages but also the disadvantages. Some designers don’t want to listen but let’s pretend our imaginary designer will. How would you change the pattern?

    This could end up being a very good exercise for all of you to see what pattern makers have to deal with every day ~giggles~.

  6. Trish says:

    I could not print without the dreaded two-times enlarging aspect, so I just printed page two of today’s blog.

    I am going to enlarge the pattern after I play with is in this smaller scale. My printer is printing it out at 5/16″ per inch.

    I was surprised by the thumb position on the two pieces. Kathleen, can you explain why the pattern would have the thumb going in opposite directions?

  7. J C Sprowls says:

    Save the .jpg to your local machine. Then, open with photo editor or the fax viewer. Print from that application using the wizard to resize the image to fit your page. Using this method, my images printed with the alph-numeric paper at 1″ scale. Since the paper is in scale, I presume the pattern is, too.

    Kathleen: what size are the seam allowances? I presume they’re 1/4″? And, this mitten is fit to a hand with a 7 1/2″ measurement around the waist of the palm? Or, do I have latitude to fit this mitten to my fit model?

  8. Jane says:

    —I busted a gut over this because you do not know how many times I have heard “fix this, but don’t change anything” but that’s basically what I’m going to tell you to do!

    Kathleen….I love it!!!! That is what I have been dealing with all morning!!!! …how can I make the thigh of these pants smaller w/o changing anything (that’s the abreviated version)…..

    As far the mitten pattern goes. I am not going to participate in the actual work, since that it what I do for a living and I read your blog on lunch for fun. BUT my guess is that the reason the thumbs are different is that the bottom mitten is the back of the hand side and the top mitten is for the underside of the hand. The funny shape of the top mitten is to create extra room to allow your thumb to have movement.

    Am I right?

  9. carly jayne says:

    Hi. I’m a newbie, I tried to solve the puzzle above and posted it: here. I am looking forward to seeing everyones adaptations. I think that it is interesting that Tatiana had the same concept, although I soooo wanted to be first. Ah well.

    That being said, I do believe that my draft would have been rejected because the pattern is not very original, and something tells me that jessica is a very original kind of person who was proud of the “up down” thumb idea. I am a cruddy at pattern making and i do not have the mind that could wrap itself around jessica the genuis’s idea. So heck. I’ll keep my day job.

    Oh yes, the downloadable patterns….I don’t know how to accurately transfer these to the computer in that way. I think a flatbed scanner would be the best option, but I don’t have one of those. I quess I just want to put a few ideas out so everyone can spring from that and make something better.

  10. Kathleen says:

    Re: Carly
    I can’t tell if you’re playing the false modesty card or what but your pattern is quite lovely! You have obviously picked up a trick or two. Of course I will love patterns that are notched and marked correctly. There is no other way to wend your way into my heart so easily :). Not to pick a bone but in case somebody uses your example for pattern marking, the *only* change I’d suggest would be color coding (black for shell/self). We use a big circled R or L to indicate handedness but I can certainly see why you did it your way.

    I had to laugh a lot in regards to what you said about Jessica because if you had the book, you’d know I was being facetious. Yes, Jessica was smart but not nearly as much as she thought. She had an odd arrogance and thought she was much brighter than other fashion designers (most fashion designers are a lot brighter than most people think). To whit, most of her patterns were based on patterns she’d bought from Green Pepper (not to suggest that company is to blame for her mitten pattern either).

    So Carly, what is your day job? I’d think you could be a pattern maker if you wanted. Your improvements were spot on and the reduction in allocation was a nice bonus.

  11. J C Sprowls says:

    I agree, Carly, you did a great job! I like the approach of proving the pattern in a firm woven before grading the pattern and making a knit sample.

    My approach would’ve been the same. But, I haven’t done much in the way of sewn knits. I have, however, drafted flat patterns that were used as guides for fine-guage hand knitting.

    The flip-flop thumb thing was pestering me. In the original, I suspected it would rotate the thumb portion too far away from the axis of the hand. Your sample proved that. Kudos on the 1″ savings, BTW!

  12. carly jayne says:

    wow! thanks so much. I got all butterflied reading your comments. It seemed pretty obvious that Jessica was a “peach”, the fact she didn’t pay was the tip-off. I was being facetious too.

    My day job (or night job rather) is serving. I take apparel design classes through a local community college adult education program. I learn new things everyday, sometimes it is daunting. Also, as soon as I think I really know something I find out I am completely wrong. It’s nice to know I’m on the right track. Thanks!

  13. Babette says:

    Thank you Tatiana and Carly. Until I looked at your patterns I was lost with the upside down thumb even though I sat here looking at my hand realising that the thumb sits at the front and the inside doesn’t need to be as wide. The idea was there but it wouldn’t emerge from the clouds.

    I’ve now had a play with paper and scissors and I’m going to have a go at a separate inside thumb piece and a gusset, esp if the final result is meant to be made in a woven.

  14. Kathleen says:


    That about sums up the results of three protos I’ve done thus far. Dang, I wish I had Mr. Fasanella’s mitten to look at. I should call him but I hesitate to since I haven’t told him I remarried. It’s not as tho I haven’t done this before, this is very frustrating. Darn it all. I NEED mittens tomorrow. Crud crud crud. I guess I have to go target. What the hey, I need a hat too anyway….

    Here’s to hoping your results were more fruitful than mine. I figured out three ways not to make mittens.

  15. Liz Powell says:

    Dear Kathleen,
    Honest, I had not come across this Mitten Challenge before, although I have read the odd page in the blog after seeing links to it on Creative Machines web=pages. But I worked out a pattern that is very similar many years ago, Somehow I have an idea that the original “Ah=Ah” moment came when I saw a pair of Melton Cloth Mitts made in the Canadian High Arctic. My version has no seam down beside the ‘Pinkie Finger’, Instead the palm curve is smaller than the back of the hand; which is eased together,
    I have made these from Felted Woolen Sweaters, from both new and old Fleece and even from old woolen socks.
    My daughter gas worked as a Paramedic for many years; she has plain navy pairs with the turn-back of the cuff cut from High Visibility-Blazw-Hunters Orange fleece, makes them easier to find in snow banks in the dark. Plus because I make them so quickly she has enough to always have a spare left or right to make a new pair.
    Liz, Thunder Bay.

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