Copying Store Bought Clothes

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Copying Store Bought Clothes

Do you have a favorite blouse, dress, or nightgown that you wish you could have a duplicate of without ripping it apart?  Well, so did I!  
In fact, I had several items of clothing that I wished I had two or three of. But I didn't know how to accurately make a pattern from a store-bought piece of clothing.  

Then a friend asked me if I would be willing to make a pattern from a very unusual and expensive version of a modest bathing suit for her daughter.  She didn't want to have to buy another one. We are talking about an $85.00 bathing suit! 

As usual, through trial and error and a hint from a college sewing textbook, I figured out how to do it and got paid a lovely $40.00 for making a pattern off of that suit and her favorite nightgown!  Not only that, I learned a valuable new skill!

As a result, I spent a month this summer sewing blouse after blouse, skirt after skirt, and even copying my very favorite worn out nightgown. 
Here is how you do it...

Step 1:  Lay out the clothing item on a piece of butcher paper which is laid over a cardboard cutting board.
Flatten out the piece you want and pin it all the way through the clothing item, the freezer paper, and into the cutting board.

Step 2: Remove the pins and clothing item.

Step 3: Observe and mark all the dots left by the pin holes.

Step 4: Connect the dots! These are your seam lines.

Step 5: Measure and draw new lines  5/8" away from the seam lines you just drew. These are your cutting lines.

Step 6. Cut out the pattern piece.

Step 7. Label the piece marking the grain line you want, how many you should cut out, and any other reminders you need. (Mark fold lines.)

Step 8: Keep laying out the piece of clothing in whatever position is necessary to get at the pattern piece you need.

Step 9: Write some instructions to your self of how to put it together. (I know...sometimes easier said than done!)

Step 10: Lay out all the pieces on some cloth from your stash that is still folded in the original 22" wide when folded manner.  Try to come up with the best possible use of the fabric while keeping the grain lines straight.

Step 11: Take a picture..and print it. This is your layout.

Step 12: Measure how much yardage it takes to lay out all of the pieces.  This is your yardage.

Step 13: Put all the pieces in a 5 x 8 manilla envelope and tape a picture of the item to the front of the envelope.   Now you have a pattern of your favorite clothing item and can use it as much as you like!


Trudy Callan said...

Thanks, Donna, for this great tutorial. I appreciate you taking the time. You're a doll.

About Me said...

I thought you might like this one Trudy! I took the pictures over the summer, but just now got them up and posted. I hated to keep this to myself!

KatB said...

This is so cool - I've emailed it to myself and filed it away. Once I learn to sew from a pattern more easily, I'll use your technique for sure! :)

chiiiiing said...

this is awesome! thank you so much for posting this up!

Niki H said...

I saw your post on WR and had to come over and say a big THANK YOU. I've struggled trying to draw/trace from an existing piece of clothing and it doesn't work that well. I can't wait to try this. Thanks again for the tutorial!

Beautifully Veiled said...

Thanks so much for this post! I actually have one of those swimsuits, (embarrassed now) but it was on sale 1/2 price and blue on blue. NOT pretty at all. So I know exactly what I'm going to be doing with it in a few days.....
(Oh, love your blog, I just found it from another)
Linda in GA

Lynn Nasir said...


thank you so much for the time and hardwork. i love this tutorial so much! :)

Attila said...

That's a really good tutorial; I had a look at it because I've just done this with a favourite skirt and I wanted to compare methods. We did pretty much the same thing. I made the pattern a while back, partly made it and then my machine broke down. By the time it was repaired and had time to sew again, I finished, tried it on and... I've put on weight! Aggggghhhh!

Tiff :o) said...

Genius!! No more tearing apart clothes for me. :o) Thank you so much.

A Bee In My Bonnet - Leslie Anne said...

You're absolutely brilliant! You know that don't you? Well, I hope you do! I LOVE this! I can't wait to get home to try this! I bought a shirt that's very sheer that I don't wear because I don't have a camisole to wear under it. But I love the style and the fit. I'd love to have more! Thanks for the tips/info! Oh, and praying for your son & troops! Leslie Anne

Anonymous said...

Expectting a Grandbaby - I have been all over the net - hours upon hours of looking for patterns to sew for my baby - YOUR site has been the most useful, beneficial that I happened to stumble across. Thank you sooo very much for this tutorial - It will be used by me for years to come. Thank you so much for helping others to learn and provide for their families in this struggling economy - God bless

Anonymous said...

This is an awesome post!! Can't wait to try it; just wondering where can you get butcher paper?

Anonymous said...

Great tutorial! I love it and will use it for sure soon.

Greeting from Germany,

Anonymous said...

I was just wondering how you do this if there are gathers or pleats?

Obat Maag said...

thank's for your information and i really like your post

Anonymous said...

This is a great help. Only question is about a nightgown I'd like to copy. The front bodice is fitted/gathered under the bust and I'm not sure how to accurately cut out the front bodice without removing the original piece from the gown. Thank you for your suggestions.

Donna said...

Anonymous, I usually measure the bottom of a skirt or blouse and estimate how wide the top of that piece would have been. Most often it's straight up. So the bottom width is also the top--then gather.

I also measure the pleats at the top so I can make sure I take up enough to fit the bodice above.

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