Summer is in full swing and I am excited to (finally!) have some time to have fun sewing. I went through my closet and found one shirt that I kept as memento from when I was a lot younger and thinner. It is one of my favorite shirts. I want to make one like that but I really can’t afford spending money on fancy knit fabrics. I found in my bag of clothes to repair/recycle a t-shirt I made for my husband. The fabric cost me almost twenty dollars a yard and, because it was the first shirt I made ever, it does not look too polished. Dear husband does not seem interested in it anymore so I thought this is the perfect piece to repurpose and clone my fave shirt!
The method: I learned it in this Craftsy class: Pattern Drafting from ready to Wear with Steffani Lincecum. I took the class and found it very helpful. I love the way the instructor uses lots of pins to establish a “road map” for seam lines and some critical details, especially when you want to copy an intricate piece. She uses a vintage shirt as a model to copy. I highly recommend this class if you feel like you are almost giving up on altering commercial patterns. I am sure you will love the “instant gratification”. This class was worth paying for. I walked away with renewed hopes that I don’t have to struggle and feel frustrated with pattern fitting and alterations anymore. This is a very intuitive way to create a totally customized pattern. Is quick and fairly easy.
Watch the video of this tutorial here:
If you are a thrifty person, then do the eco-friendly thing…. go to Goodwill or your favorite local thrift shop and look for oversized shirts or tops. Focus on the quality of the fabric, not on the actual design. If you are working with a pattern that fits you well, then make sure you will have enough fabric to work with. You may want to combine fabrics. You can use your creativity here.
Materials that you will need:
- Your favorite shirt
- Elmer’s foam board, at least size 20 X30 X 3/16 inches
- Paper: Tracing paper, kraft paper, Swedish paper, or medical examination paper
- Colored pencils
- Sharpie markers
- Thin pins (lots!)
- Quilter’s and Fashion curved Rulers
- Paper scissors
- Rotary cutter
- Cutting mat
Step 1:You want to place your foam board on top of your cutting mat or table. Then place the paper on top of the foam board. Draw a straight line that will serve as a guide to stay on grain. Fold your outfit in half and start pinning. Make sure you are covering all the shirt with pins and that you are marking all of the seam lines, neckline, shoulders, sleeves, darts, etc. This is just a simple shirt so no big deal here as far as figuring out darts and special details.
Notice here that the side seam lines of this shirt do not match at all. This is a manufacturer’s defect. It could have been that this shirt was not cut on grain. I recommend using your cutting mat gridlines to square things off and make sure you are completely straight.
Step 2: Remove the pins from the shirt, remove the shirt from the board. Look at the dotted marks imprinted from the tiny pins we used. With your markers and rulers smooth out lines and curves. Try to be as clean as possible to avoid distortions.
Step 3: Walk your pattern and correct any imperfections. Smooth out lines, align the front and back pieces. I went too fast here and forgot to walk my sleeve pattern into the armhole. So when I serged my shirt, I noticed that the sleeves had a funky shape.
Before jumping into sewing or serging, check for inconsistencies:
- Does the bodice armhole shape match the shape of the armhole of the sleeve?
- Are front and back of pattern aligned on grain?
- Do front and back pieces have the same length?
- Does the shoulder of front and back pieces match?
Your rulers and the gridlines of your cutting mat are your best friends.
Alright! so it seems I am ready to move on to Part 2- cutting fabric and sewing.