Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Basic Technique for Making a Knock-Off of a Garment

By Laure Justice

Today, I headed to the work table in the basement to make a video about making your own patterns for the Sewing Lessons From Stitching it Right YouTube channel. I thought I would write out the details, too, in case you prefer reading about it, or if you have a hard time hearing what I'm saying the sewing tutorial video.

How to make a sewing pattern


Reasons to Make a Sewing Pattern From a Garment


There are several reasons to take a garment that fits and use it to make your own sewing pattern.

  1. First, if you have something that fits perfectly and it starts to wear out, you already know the fit is on point, so making (and using) a pattern made from the perfect-fitting garment is a way to get another perfect-fitting garment.
  2. Second, If you can't find a sewing pattern for a garment you want to make, such as a vintage garment or a new style that you can't find patterns for yet, making your own pattern from an existing garment is a way to get that hard to find sewing pattern.
  3. Third, it can be a way to get a customized or couture garment before patterns are available to the general public. (According to the teacher of my patternmaking class, this is completely legal.)
  4. Fourth, it gives you a way to recreate your favorite clothing without paying retail prices and without going to the store to buy a similar pattern - only to have it not provide a perfect fit.

What You'll Need to Make a Sewing Pattern From Clothes That Fit


To begin with, you just need a few things to make your own patterns, and you don't have to take the garment apart to make patterns using this patternmaking technique.

You need the garment, waxed paper, and something to mark the waxed paper with. If you're making your pattern in a store's dressing room (it can be done if you carry the waxed paper in your purse - for exactly this purpose) you can use a penny or pencil cap to mark on the waxed paper. I used a permanent ink marker in the video.






The Steps of This Patternmaking Technique


In the linked video, I show how to make a copy of a plus-sized tank top that has a yoke and curved bottom hem. The only difference between making a plus-sized garment pattern and smaller garment pattern is piecing, or not piecing, the waxed paper t make it fit across the panels of the garment.

  1. Find the midline of the garment. 
    1. The easiest way to do that is to fold it so the side seams are aligned. 
  2. Lay the waxed paper over the garment with one edge against the fold. 
    1. Write cut on fold along this edge.
  3. Trace all the way around the panel of the garment, if there are seams, you can feel them through the waxed paper.
    1. Or, you can lift one corner to confirm that you're marking the right part. 
  4. Trace around each panel used to make the garment.
    1. Make any notes needed to help yourself remember what to do when you get ready to sew. 
  5. Make notations around the edges to remind yourself to add a  seam allowance when you're ready to cut out the pattern. 

Special Patternmaking Tips to Consider


This is a really easy technique for making a pattern that gives you an exact-fitting copy of a garment that you already have. But, there are a few things you can do to make sure it turns out the way you want.

  • Use a similar type of fabric to the type of the original garment if you don't want to throw off the fit or adjust the pattern. 
  • After you draw the lines, they tend to look jagged and uneven, use a ruler or French curve to smooth out the lines before you cut out the pattern. 
  • After you make the pattern and cut out the pieces, hold them up against the original garment to make sure you got the size and design elements in the right places.
  • Make your notes right on the pattern, and take photos of anything you think you might forget when you're working. 
  • If the fit of the garment is a touch off, you can add or reduce specific areas of your handmade sewing pattern. 

In the linked patternmaking video, I share the full process for making the pattern in about 13 minutes. This was, however, a very simply constructed garment and I've made numerous patterns using this technique. A garment with more pieces would take longer when it comes to pattern making, and you would also need to prepare more detailed notes.

Also, here's a link to some patternmaking books on eBay. It's an affiliate link, which means if you click it and also buy one of the books, it in no way affects the price you would pay, but a small percentage price of the sale is paid to this site, and it's part of the way we fund the site and keep our video tutorials free to help others learn how to sew.


Be sure to add us to your favorites and like and follow the YouTube channel if you're interested in learning more about how to sew. Thanks for visiting Stitching it Right. Comments and questions are welcome both here and on the Sewing Lessons From Stitching it Right YouTube Channel

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