Saturday, 21 June 2014

Copying Clothing by Taking it Apart - A Simple Stretch Garment.

I'm running out of a few basic things in my wardrobe because I've been ignoring the necessary in favour of the fun. So it seems a good time to churn out a few more t-shirts. I thought I'd run through a different method of copying since I have been meaning to copy this shirt for a while.

There's no breaking news in the idea that you can make a pattern from another garment by taking it apart. It means you know the garment will work for your body type, and it's certainly easier than copying a garment without taking it apart (although that is possible too - check out my copying a t-shirt post here).

So in a case like this shirt, which fits neatly but which I have worn to the point where the fabric has pilled and faded so much I would be reluctant to wear it again, a destructive copy is a good option.

This is a very simple overview, and does not include things like marking the position of gathers. I think this is a worthwhile thing to do as an exercise if you are new to sewing, because it helps build an understanding of how clothing works. I am tracing the pieces out onto paper. You can make a copy just by pinning the old fabric onto the new fabric if you so choose. However, if you do so, be aware that fabric 'pattern' will move and distort when you go to cut it. By tracing it onto paper, you can control those distortions, and will have a stable medium to work with as a template. It is also much less bulky to store for future makings.

Here is my shirt:

In the copy, I am going to ignore the detail at the back, which is essentially a decorative placard. That should be a straightforward detail to add in a later date.

This is a stretch garment, which will not fray. So to take the pieces apart, I cut as close to the stitching as possible. In woven garments, I prefer to unpick rather than cut.

I then trim the seam away on the opposite side, again as closely as possible so that my pieces have no seam left.

I lay the pieces out flat on paper. Here are the front and back pieces which I have folded in half.
Patterns are made as half patterns, and folding them also has the advantage of identifying any distortions in the garment.
You can see here that the arm holes don't quite line up.
Distortions will occur in garments for a number of reasons. Mass produced garments are cut in a stack, and sometimes a thick stack will mean the cuts are imperfect. Errors may have been made at the construction stage. But also, wearing a garment will stretch and pull the fabric out of its original shape.

Trace around the pattern.
And then add a seam allowance and hem around the shape. In this case, I have added a 1cm seam to the sides, and a 3cm hem. I haven't added anything on the neckline because I intend to bind the neckline. You can check out my machine binding post here.
Cut out the pieces.
And label them. I have made a note on the sleeve of the back so I can put it in the correct way. A sleeve is traced out in full because it is not truly symmetrical.

Pattern complete!
For tutorials on constructing a t-shirt, check out the tutorials page here.

When making up the new garment, I need to choose a similar fabric to the original fabric.
One important feature in stretch fabric is the percentage of stretch. Here's an easy test for stretch.

I've laid out a piece of the fabric against my ruler, and marked a point at 0 and 10cm.

I then stretch it out to see how far it can comfortably go, so that the fabric still looks good (not see through or strained looking) and springs back to its original shape. 

This fabric stretches from 10cm to 14cm comfortably. So that means it has 40% stretch, and any fabric I make this pattern in will also need to have around 40% stretch. Make a note of that on the pattern!

So that's all for this post. I'd best go make up a t-shirt or two. :)

1 comment:

  1. Timely post as I noticed my pj top is going into holes and it's my plan to take apart to make a pattern. I need more days in the week to get through all my sewing plans!