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.


Poetry Assignment

I gave my daughter a ride to work today.  The snow had blanked the highest tops of the foothills near Golden and a couple of hundred feet down there was no snow, only the shadows in the deepest cracks on the foothills and of the playful but heavily water laden clouds as they played hide and seek with the sun in their race across the sky.  Magical you might say.  There were lots of colors, the sweetest greens of the fresh spring grass, the dark blue greens of the wet evergreens on the north facing slopes, the whitest white of the new fallen snow on the highest hill tops and the remains of a dusting of snow between the peaks and where the lower altitude no longer had any snow. Days like this make me so happy to live here. Where is the camera when I need it?

Anyway, we started discussing a project for one of her English classes that she has been working on this semester.  She complained that James Wright had nothing she would borrow, which I guess was one of the questions on the project. She read an example of one of Mr. Wright’s poems.  It was a very touching poem about the poet’s father, working hard, coming home silently and described how the poet imagined his father’s life and the ghost of his now dead father continuing to do the same things his father had done almost all of his life. 

It zapped me right back to a day when my family was sitting around the table eating supper, it was a quiet moment, which looking back, in itself was probably rare as there were four children at the time plus my parents.  My father had a look in his eyes of someone who had known love, sorrow, pain, loss, struggles, joy and triumph. He truly looked so appreciative to be with his family enjoying a nice dinner as he ate that it brought tears to my eyes then and even now as I write about it.

My dauaghter continued that she did not have a clue what she would “borrow” from the first poem.  I said “You could probably borrow the attitude if nothing else. You just don’t get the poem. Maybe you could say that at this time you would not borrow anything, but it might be something you could revisit when you are older.”   

My daughter continued to describe some of the poet’s works she was comparing.  She read a poem by Mary Oliver about sleeping in the forest. True, it was an eloquently written poem, but it did not touch me nearly as much as the first poem.  First, I can not imaging sleeping in the forest without a minimum of $500.00 worth of REI gear, including a light weight, fully sealed tent complete with foot print tarp and weather cover tarp, backpack, lantern and a massive dose of “Off” or some other mosquito repellent.  Furthermore even if I might live in a forest, I certainly would not sleep outside alone. I almost got the shivers listening to the poem imaging the insects, crickets, frogs, snakes, raccoons, foxes, coyotes and mountain lions or bears that might also be there.

“Now, that is a poem.” she said when she finished reading it.  I said, “Well, I guess it just depends on where you are in your life”.  The first poem took me back to a time and I described the family dinner incident above, nearly crying as I tried to explain the emotion I felt.  She simply remarked, “Well, I never had that. In fact, none of my generation has had that.” 

I am pretty sure some of her generation did have more family dinner experiences than she did, but it made me even more emotional at how much my dad looked like he knew and understood just how good we had it, and how much I appreciated what he did for us. It made me sad for all of the working moms and family’s whose fathers had left their mothers to be the nurturer and provider alone.  It made me very sad for the society where it is ok for this to be accepted as normal.    



I sewed this week, made a black and silver brocade vest.
I even took photos. Taking photos slows me down.
I was sewing after dark, so the light available for photos was poor,
and the pictures are too.

Here is a little flowering tree in the neighborhood. Isn't it beautiful?  

I am glad I got to see it today, because it is going to snow tonight. 


Fabric Corsage

Purple Fabric Flower Corsage

Here is a quick project you can do with just a small amount of scraps.You may recognize the purple from the bargello jacket completed on the last post. I had the purple flower pinned on the jacket without the leaves. It seemed to be lacking something so I added leaves.  

Tools and Supplies

The flower is made from a strip of fabric folded length-wise pressed and gathered along the raw edge. The dark line on the purple fabric is where I surged the edge. Sew a basting stitch along the bottom (raw edge), draw up the basting stitch to gather the flower. The photo below looks slightly gathered because I unrolled it to finish the corsage.

Strip for Flower
This strip for the flower is about 3 inches wide and 21 inches long, both ends are tapered at the last two inches. The photo below, shows the gathering threads pulled up. Sorry it is blurred, but I think you can see the gathering threads on the left side. The strip of fabric can be longer or shorter, depending on the thickness and texture of the fabric. The tightness of the gathers will depend on what kind of flower you want to make. Experiment until you get the result you want. No two flowers are exactly alike and the less "perfect" it is the more you will probably like it.

Gathered Strip for Flower
Once the flower has been gathered, begin on one side and roll the strip of fabric. You can see where I started to roll up the strip. Once the strip has been rolled tightly, hold it together securely with pins while you baste the raw edge, making sure to catch all of the edges. If you do not catch all of the edges your flower can unwind. You may find it easier to stitch as you roll each layer.

Tracing Leaf Pattern
To make the leaves I used two templates. I drew the first, smaller template the size of a finished leaf. The second template is the cut size to achieve the desired finished leaf. You can see both templates in the Tools and Supplies photo above. I made three leaves, for each leaf you will need to cut two leaf shapes. Fold your fabric so it is double, trace you leaf, pin the fabric to prevent movement, then cut the two layers.

To sew the leaves, place right sides together, matching the points. Sew down to the point from the back of the leaf, lift the foot with the needle down to pivot.  Pivot, lower the foot and sew back up the other side to the back end of the leaf. Be sure to keep the very back of the leaf unstitched. I made my seam about an 8th of an inch from the edge. Trim the tip of the leaf so that you can get a clean point when you turn it right side out. Turn it right side out through the opening at the backside of the leaf. Press.

One completed leaf, one leaf turned and pressed with the smaller template lying on it.
Once the leaves have been pressed, gather down the center from the back of the leaf using only one line of stitches. To do this, stitch on the side you chose to be the top side. Starting from the center back of the leaf, tack your starting point by stitching forward and backward about three stitches. Set the stitch length to about an eight of an inch. On my machine this is about a 4 setting. Stitch to the point of the leaf. Pull the bobbin stitch to gather the leaf, pull the top stitch to the back and knot the threads to keep the gathers secure. Once the leaf has been gathered it will give the leaf a natural curve, simulating an actual leaf. At this point I made a zig-zag stitch across the back of the leaf to finish the raw edge. 

Now you can sew your leaves to the flower. Place the leaves on the sides of the flower in a way that is pleasing to you. Hold them in place with a pin until you get the leaves tacked onto the flower. Once the leaves are attached, you can add a broach pin fastener (available at craft stores). This can be sewed on or glued, I have better luck sewing. If you prefer not to add the broach pin fastener you can wear your new fabric corsage by pinning it like a normal corsage.

Completed Fabric Corsage on Jacket


Bargello Jacket Finished

Finally finished! I stopped working on this because I was having so much trouble with the binding. I had to do some practice and study to be able to finish it. I thought I was going to have it finished on Wednesday afternoon when I picked it up again. But I managed to stick myself with a pin and bleed on the white binding.  I was able to get it washed out, but then I had to wait for it to dry before I could work on it again. By then vacation was over and I had to go back to work.

This morning I saw on the Fon's and Porter's Love of Quilting show how they apply bindings to their quilts. Maybe this was why I had to wait because their method works much better than any other method I tried.