Several of you expressed interest in the method I used to copy my favorite jeans, so I took a few photos when I recently copied this J. Crew blazer that belongs to a colleague. Not so much a tutorial as a demonstration, but feel free to ask me questions and I'll do my best to answer. This is my favorite method at the moment. Definitely a game-changer.
|Source Garment: J. Crew Blazer, several years ol|
The techniques I'm using to copy ready-to-wear comes from Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit: Using the Rub-off Technique to Re-Create and Redesign Your Favorite Fashions by Steffani Lincecum. Lincecum has worked to create wardrobes for Hollywood and the stage. She says:
Fitting times are very limited and we considerably cut down research and development time by building "closets" for various characters. If we had a shape and size that worked, I'd create a rub-off pattern and then make multiple garments in different fabrics, slightly varying the details along the way.I know I've got a closet full of things that have a particular shape and size that I reach for over and over. This is also a great way to copy vintage pieces, since you don't have to take the garment apart. Lincecum goes on:
The most compelling reason to learn the rub off technique concerns the garments you already love to wear. We all have a favorite skirt or dress that we bought several seasons ago and that fits just right in every way—and no matter how hard we search, we can't find a similar one anywhere. In addition, we all have that one blouse we adore and want to have in every color, or at least be able to restyle it in interesting ways. Now you can!Many of us are keen on using patterns, some of us are skilled at draping and she introduces the rub-off method as a third technique to employ when making clothes. For rub-off, there are two ways you can do it:
- The paper rub-off: All you need is cardboard, craft paper, pins and your favorite garment. You place pins at strategic points in the garment to create the pattern. In the book, she uses this method on a skirt and blouse
- The Fabric rub-off: Use muslin, other fabric, or interfacing without the "glue" to drape on the garment and trace. Preferred method when "its shape prevents it from being laid flat for tracing or because pinning in the original could cause damage." In the book, she uses this method on a dress and purse.
Get a piece of cardboard and tape craft paper to it.
Draw two perpendicular lines. The garment will need to line up correctly so you need these as a guide.
Lay the garment along these lines, in this case front right to the side seam (which will be symmetrical to front left with the exception of the buttons/buttonholes). Center Front or Back will likely go on the vertical line, the bottom of the garment on the horizontal. It won't line up perfectly because of darts, curved hems etc. but you should get the vertical line fairly lined up.
Stick pins through all seams at important points. It's going to look like your source garment is undergoing some serious acupuncture. The pins perforate the paper, creating a guide. Here I marked the pocket flap edges and the bodice contour dart.
The collar, shoulder seam and armscye
Once you remove the pins and garment, you'll find all these perforations. Connect the dots!
Voila! You have a pattern piece. It may need some tidying up, but I've found these methods so far so accurate that I'm 95 percent of the way there.
After I traced the front piece, I traced the two back pieces, the two collar pieces, and the facing. I'm using a sleeve from a previous project. Here they are:
What I do after this point:
- Lay the cut pieces on the garment, double-checking my work. Add or subtract as needed.
- Adjust the pattern to accommodate the darts, adding width.
- Make pattern alterations for fit*
- Add seam allowances (I do this directly on the fabric)
- Sew the garment. If you need help with instructions, use existing pattern instructions from a similar garment. You also have the very handy original nearby to examine as you construct.
*Typically we make the muslin to see how the garment will fit, but I already have the garment. And wearing it, I can tell I need a small bust adjustment, about an inch more width in the waist and hip, and want to shave the length on bodice and sleeve by an inch. Once I trace the pattern, I can make the changes and cut straight into my fashion fabric. We'll see how this works out.
I'm very much a novice at this method but I hope this was useful to some of you. Any questions?