How to Copy a Garment

Garment to Copy
When I copy something it is because the original is no longer available for purchase. Only copy for personal use. There are several ways to copy clothing. 

1, Draft a pattern. This requires a skill set that is usually learned in a class or as an apprentice to a tailor. There are some good blogs on this topic and I am only just beginning to branch into this method. 

2, Trace an exact copy of the garment. This can be done in a way that preserves the original garment by tracing it on paper, transferring all of the design element markings, darts, seam allowances, trims, pockets, button placement, zippers. This requires intermediate to advanced knowledge of garment construction and accuracy with tracing and transferring marks. 

3, Deconstruct the original garment to get exact pieces for a pattern. This is what I am going to show you today. 

Back side of  deconstructed garment

Tools you need.
1.  Garment you are willing to take apart. When I decide to deconstruct a garment it is something I do not plan to put back together. 
2.  A seam ripper.
3.  Place to store the pieces as you remove them. A one gallon zip close plastic bag will keep pieces together.
4.  Time. Don't try to hurry this process. You are studying the garment as you take it apart. 

First, Deconstruct
Decide which side you will take apart. In this example, a pair of blue jeans. I decided since this was a 5 pocket jean, to preserve the side with the extra little pocket at the top of the front pocket. This preserved side becomes your reference to see how it goes back together. 

Examine the garment to find a seam that does not have another seam over the top of it. This is your starting point for removing pieces. With a pair of pants, or blue jeans this is probably the belt loops, then waistband. Find a starting point and carefully start cutting the stitches. Always work with your seam ripper moving away from you, careful not to cut yourself. If you get tired, stop and come back to it later. 

Continue to remove seams, only on one half of the garment, always selecting the next seam that is not secured by another seam crossing over it. With blue jeans, the second seam is probably the hem, followed by the outer leg seam, then inner leg seam, center back, center front, zipper fly, any pocket, the yoke, then back pocket. If you do start a seam and find it is under another seam, move to the new seam, and work back to the point where the seams meet or overlap. 

Areas that will require special attention are how the front pocket is made and how the zipper section is constructed. You can probably remove the zipper fly in a whole unit. Once the zipper unit has been removed from the garment, keep the whole zipper fly together. Use this when you sew the new garment to see how  to re create it.  There are several ways to construct the fly. Just use the original for the pattern and sew the new one the same as the original. Same for the front pockets. Some pockets will have a facing, others will have a section that goes all the way to the zipper and is included in the center seam, others will fold-over. Last, take off the back pocket. 

Keep all of the loose pieces together. Do not discard the section of the original garment that you do not take apart. This is your reference to sew the new garment.  Also, take notes about what seams have to go first, a lot of it will be in the reverse order of how you took it apart.  Keep your notes with the loose pieces. You will refer to them as you sew the new garment.  More later on how to sew your new garment.

Deconstructed garment pieces and section
for reference in 1 gallon storage bag.

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