The Copycat Crepe Top – (Part 2) – Making a pattern from an existing garment

Following on from Friday’s post (don’t forget to enter the giveaway on that one btw!) today I’m going to show you what I did to create a sewing pattern from this here rtw top…MAKING A SEWING PATTERN FROM AN EXISTING GARMENT

The method I used involves completely deconstructing the original top. If this is something you absolutely don’t want to do then you could try the “rub off” technique. Not a method I’ve tried yet. But the rub off technique has the benefit of leaving your original garment intact. This method though, enables you to seperate the original pattern pieces and have everything lay flat. Thus enabling easier/more accurate tracing and measuring.  In this instance the top I started with cost me £2 from a charity shop (So I’m not gonna be out of pocket financially here) It was 1-2 sizes too big (label had been removed so not entirely sure but I couldn’t have worn it the way it was). I didn’t like the colour on me (judging by the feel of the fabric there was a high level of synthetic content so dyeing  wasn’t really an option) and there was a stain right in the front. So all in I was happy to slice this one up and make a pattern from it from which I could make multiples of the same design.

The process of deconstructing a garment is such a useful one in terms of learning about construction order and construction techniques. Since rtw garment manufacture will often use more time efficient methods than home sewing patterns, it’s a great opportunity to have a delve and learn a few things that you may be able to apply to future makes. I seam ripped this top in a couple of hours one evening while I was watching Netflix. As I went I noted the order in which I deconstructed the top. (Essentially working backwards from the original construction). When I finished, I simply reversed my deconstruction list to give me my construction order for remaking the top! Make sense? The way the inside seams lay on top of eachother will tell you the order in which they were sewn. It was during this process that I noticed that the underarm and side seams had been sewn after the sleeves had been inserted flat. Prompting me to try this on my first toile and leading to much happy clapping and squealing in shedquarters when I finally achieved the perfect sleeve head! Even if this top hadn’t worked out, that would have been enough of a pay off from this process, for me!MAKING A SEWING PATTERN FROM AN EXISTING GARMENT

Deconstructing left me with these 4 pieces. (Front, back and 2 sleeves). I removed/seam ripped all  of the stitching, taking care not to disrupt any of the raw edges or stretch the fabric around the curves as this would disrupt the shape of the pieces and I want to trace them as closely as possible to what they would have been originally. I also marked the back and front of one of the sleeves. Once they’re laid flat it’s easy to lose track of which side is which and this is of course, an important piece of info in achieving smooth sleeve insertion on the final top! You’ll also notice the folds along the edges where the original seam line was.  Again…important info to have going forward as the amount of seam allowance the top is to be sewn with will impact on the final fit…MAKING A SEWING PATTERN FROM AN EXISTING GARMENT

Before tracing, press all the pieces flat. (You’ll only need to press one of the sleeves obvs). Being careful not to stretch the fabric as you press. The key thing here is we’re pressing (lift, press, lift, press)….not ironing (moving the iron across the fabric in one continuous motion whilst applying pressure)…MAKING A SEWING PATTERN FROM AN EXISTING GARMENT

The next step is to split the front and back of the top in half to give the familiar 1/4 pattern piece.  (Below is my front piece). To do this I folded the piece in half lengthwise and  meticulously lined up the neckline, shoulder, armscye and side seams right on top of eachother; and pinned in place…MAKING A SEWING PATTERN FROM AN EXISTING GARMENT



This essentially gives me a long straight edge that will become my CF seam. I pressed a sharp crease along that edge then opened it all out again….MAKING A SEWING PATTERN FROM AN EXISTING GARMENT

It gave me a super clear and straight cutting line so that I could accurately split the piece in half…MAKING A SEWING PATTERN FROM AN EXISTING GARMENT



Retain one of those to use as a template. Discard the other. Repeat for the back piece. (nb: my back piece was a little tricky as it had a zip installed so I pinned it as I did the front and pressed the CB as far as I could. But ommitted this “cutting up the center” step and skipped straight to tracing around the folded pattern piece).

Weight each piece down, smooth and flat, on top of tracing/pattern/wrapping/brown paper. (I’m working on my sleeve piece here) I didn’t use pins as they can disrupt the line around the edge of the fabric. Carefully trace around the perimeter of the pattern piece…MAKING A SEWING PATTERN FROM AN EXISTING GARMENT

I used a dotted line snugged right up against the edge of the fabric, taking care to draw in any corner points as accurately as possible…MAKING A SEWING PATTERN FROM AN EXISTING GARMENT

I was left with a dotted line, which I then carefully smoothed out using a French curve or ruler…MAKING A SEWING PATTERN FROM AN EXISTING GARMENT

Checking things like seam junctions and corners were square and adjusting my pencil lines as needed…MAKING A SEWING PATTERN FROM AN EXISTING GARMENT

Cut out. Add in those all important front/back sleeve head notches and centre notch….MAKING A SEWING PATTERN FROM AN EXISTING GARMENT

The next measurement I needed was the amount of seam and hem allowances the top had been constructed with. Measuring from the edge with a seam gauge I established those measurements (they’ll vary across the pattern)…MAKING A SEWING PATTERN FROM AN EXISTING GARMENT

And marked them on my pattern piece along with the grainline and pattern details.  NB: The seam allowance on a deconstructed garment will be small as the “trim excess seam allowance” step has already been carried out during the manufacturing process. So further down the line you may want to increase the seam allowance on your pattern.MAKING A SEWING PATTERN FROM AN EXISTING GARMENT

Repeat for the front and back pattern pieces…MAKING A SEWING PATTERN FROM AN EXISTING GARMENT

Once all the pattern pieces are cut out line up any seams that will meet, Shoulder seams, side seams, sleeve seams etc) overlapping seam allowances, and smooth out the edges…you can see that neckline curve below isn’t sitting flush and smooth…MAKING A SEWING PATTERN FROM AN EXISTING GARMENT



Again, any seams that will be sewn together, line up the pattern pieces and snip little notches to give you alignment marks for the construction stage…MAKING A SEWING PATTERN FROM AN EXISTING GARMENT

And that’s it. I marked all my pattern details onto each pattern piece including the words “First Draft” so if I ever needed to work back to a certain point  I’d know which pattern was which. Then I toiled it…and, well it worked! To the point that the size and the way it hung when worn was  identical to the way the original top fit me. So a win then!MAKING A SEWING PATTERN FROM AN EXISTING GARMENT


As I mentioned, the original top was too big and consequently, so was my copy top! So later this week I’ll share the process I followed to grade it down which incidentally, is the same process for sizing a pattern up, bar one detail. I’ll be back later in the week with that post.

But in the meantime, hop over to part one if you haven’t seen it already, for the finished top, and a chance to enter a fab giveaway from The Splendid Stitch

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  1. Michele February 23, 2016

    The cut of this top is beautiful..can’t wait to see the finished results. Your tutorials are always so detailed yet understandable. Love your blog. Cheers, Michele

  2. Jo from Three Stories High February 23, 2016

    Totally agree on the taking apart thing, you learn so much about the construction. On this blouse below I hadn’t even noticed it had gathers at the back of the neck and I had been wearing it for 4 years! Great tutorial.

  3. Cynthia February 23, 2016

    A great tutorial. Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. Prune February 25, 2016

    Super! Merci pour les explications !


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