Thursday, March 15, 2018

Copying RTW

Writing this, I'm sitting at a Starbucks in Eugene, Oregon where I'm visiting a friend for several days. This morning, while she had appointments, I went for a walk around her older, established neigbourhood where not only does every home look different but they have developed in organic and individual ways over time. This is a creative community so there were all sorts of She-Sheds and Studios poking out from houses or sitting in the yard. So fun to see. AND...

... spring flowers. I left home at -7C with three feet of snow in the low areas and far more in the piles. Before I arrived at my hotel the first night, it was +17C and quite a lovely difference. Right now, the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and fluffy clouds are floating by. Perhaps by the time I get back home, that will be my "new" reality. I hope so. I'm ready to get to work on finishing tasks around the house and the yard.


One of the studio tasks I wanted to finish before leaving was copying several ready-to-wear garments to create patterns. If I can cut it apart, I typically will use half a garment to make a pattern and half to refer to for the sewing structure. With this Eileen Fisher skirt, I didn't want to cut it apart and so pin pricked a pattern by placing it smoothly over tracing paper and outlining the edges with pins.

Then I go around and make a mark by each pin indicating where the corners are. Later, when I connect these marks, this is the stitching line. Seam and hem allowances will need to be added.

If  a section is rounded like the bottom hem band, I sometimes have to walk along the piece smoothing and pinning in one direction while unpinning the opposite one. The most important thing is to smooth the garment out completely.

Pay attention to how the garment is constructed. In this case, the only difference between center front and center back and the side fronts and the side backs was the height of the waistband. The bottom curves are identical which means that when I smooth out the lines and add seam allowances, I can do the information once and then transfer it.

I also pay attention to the fabric used so that I can copy the hand and drape of the original. This skirt would be not nearly as wonderful in a much stiffer or a much looser fabric.

Change what doesn't work for you. In this case, there is a side zipper and I am much too curvy for that. I prefer a center back zipper. I'm also unlikely to add the button flap and button as they are more decorative than necessary.

I highlighted these marks in felt pen so they'd be easier for you to see. They are the seam line marks made near the pins. I use a French Curve to connect the dots smoothly and again to add a seam allowance or hem. Be sure to write on the pattern the information you need to know. With the skirt above, it's too big for me and I'll need to narrow the pieces as well as add some length because it hits at a less than flattering place on my leg. With the pants below, they fit well in a stretch denim but would be too tight in a woven one.

This is a more complicated pattern. The back of the outer leg wraps around to the front and there is a little dart at one side extending from the end of a cuff seam as well as a longer dart on the opposite side matching up with the same seam. It'll make for a very interesting back pattern shape once I finish developing it.

With the darts, it was important to record both the length and the width of the dart although, it is equally important to adjust these lengths to match your body. The long darts extending down from the waistband need to end above the knee.


I copied this pattern before wearing the jeans because they were brand new and hadn't been stretched out in any way. Now, I'll wear them and see how the crotch seam feels and performs and if I like it better than a pattern I've already developed, I'll copy it however, if I only like it as much as - or less than - one I've already developed, I'll use that one and transfer the already developed information from a different pattern.

These Vogue 8499 pants have center front and center back seam that I can replace with the darts while taking the modifications I already made to the pattern to successfully fit them and start there. There's no point in re-inventing the wheel. These are the denim trousers with the orange top stitching that I showed in a previous post. It's a bit hard on my notebook to do all the hyperlinking so I'll let you research that if you need to. I'm looking forward to sewing my own version of the - consignment store - pants.

I think tomorrow my friend and I will be working in her studio on creating fabric beads. I printed out some instructions before leaving home and have brought a basket of supplies to begin working with. It's a pre-start to 52 Weeks of Jewelry that I want to begin when I get home. Right now, I'm debating the best way to organize that project and I think it may be to set the goal of one piece a week and to explore one medium a month. Right now, I have fabric, wire, and resin in mind as well as combinations of two or of all three. It'll be a good start and - bonus - I can watch for starting points as souveniers of my holiday.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - safe travel and sunshine


  1. Back when Craftsy was a brand new thing, I bought a class by Kenneth D. King called "Jean-ius" that showed how to copy a pair of jeans without taking it apart. The technique is great, and of course is so useful since you don't have to take your garment apart to make a pattern.

    1. I have but haven't watched that class. I'll check out what he does.

  2. welcome to springtime in eugene! sun one minute, clouds the next...

    1. Thank you. We had rain on the roof of the studio today and it sounded lovely. WAY better than snow.

  3. If you are still in Eugene you should check out MECCA-downtown next to Amtrack station! It’s an amazing recycle/reuse store! Enjoy Eugene!

    1. I'll ask my friend about it. We leave for Ashland on Saturday.


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.