How to copy ready made clothes

Written by michelle powell-smith
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If you have finally found a perfect fitting pair of trousers or blouse or that old favourite is wearing out, making a pattern from an already completed garment is a good solution. You can make a pattern from an existing garment without damaging the original, even if the garment is quite complex. Start by copying a simple garment to learn the basic techniques and methods used to make a pattern from ready to wear.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Large flat surface
  • Pinnable padding
  • Tape
  • Soft pencil
  • Needle and thread
  • Wide, medium weight sew-in interfacing or Swedish tracing paper
  • Heavy duty sewing or quilting pins

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    How to Copy Ready Made Clothes

  1. 1

    Prepare your surface to make a pattern from a finished garment. Use an affordable cardboard cutting board as a pinning surface or cover your table with a heavy blanket. Tape the padding into place on your table to prevent shifting.

  2. 2

    Run a vertical and horizontal thread through your original garment to mark the grain lines of the fabric. Use a magnifying glass if necessary to help identify the grain on the ready-made garment.

  3. 3

    Look carefully at the item you are copying. Fold along the centre seam if there is one in the garment. Fold along the crotch seam if you are copying ready-made trousers, or fold across the width of the garment at the centre of the bodice for a shirt, blouse or dress. Trace smaller or complex garments flat. Keep pattern layouts in mind when you copy ready-made clothes and create pattern pieces in a logical way.

  4. 4

    Pin the garment into place on your padded surface. Add pins along each seam, placing them quite close together. Use these pinned lines when copying ready-made clothes to help you create an accurate pattern.

  5. 5

    Place interfacing over your pinned garment. Trace the shape of the garment along each seamline using a soft lead pencil. Allow an adequate margin on the interfacing for seam allowances and cutting.

  6. 6

    Trace each section of the garment piece by piece, working carefully along the seams to make a pattern. Label each pattern piece as you go along to avoid later confusion. Cut your pattern pieces with a 1/4 - inch, 3/8 - inch or 5/8 - inch seam allowance as you prefer.

  7. 7

    Assemble your new clothes, using the ready-made clothes as an example. Have a good sewing manual or a pattern for a similar item handy to help with sewing order and instructions.

Tips and warnings

  • As you lay out pattern pieces, be sure to maintain the grain of your fabric using the threads you ran through the fabric as a guide.

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