It can be a great way to get a sewing pattern because it is a clothing item that you know fits well enough to want another one just like it. Or at least with as few adjustments as needed. Preferrably the ones you know how to do.
I bought a lovely short-sleeved blouse with intriguing double layer ruffles from a charity shop. I did realise at the time that I keep going for this very pale blue, chalky looking shade and then end up not wearing it because it makes me look pasty, to be brutally honest. Do I learn from this and stop buying clothes or knitting yarn this colour? Heck no, course not.
So it seems that I bought a pattern instead.
It took me a while to start taking this blouse apart. I saw the great tip of leaving half the blouse intact so I can see how it goes back together - I only need one set of pattern pieces after all. I'm glad I read that on a helpful blog somewhere, I'm not confident that I would have realised. Start wielding a seam ripper and I keep on going...
This blouse fits fairly well. The dart is not quite in the right place and I need to suppress a wedge of fabric in the underarm area, I am optimistic that I know how to adjust the underarm seams as well as the sleeve width. Fingers crossed.
I flattened each piece carefully, straightened what edges need to be straight (e.g. the centre back that will be cut on the fold), and weighed the whole down with my trusty pattern weights. Also known as glass coasters in another life - I use them with the felt feet pointing up, they work fabulously.
I drew around each piece making sure that the shapes make sense: an armhole needs to look scooped and not jagged, no corner should look too sharp or seamlines lie in an undulating S-shape. So far so good! The test will come when I sew this up in a toile fabric. I haven't got that far yet.
I did add more generous seam allowances because these were very narrow (the blouse was industrially made after all) and I may have to re-do the flounces. These are a circular shape that looks a bit like a Viennese whirl. Mine have an element of squashed doughnut to them, so I may compare to a commercial pattern I have in my collection. Just to sense-check.
I also traced some stretch fabric leggings that I loved but nasty moths had left a gaping hole near the knee, damn them. I'm delighted that this worked really well too. The pieces look astoundingly legging-like, just like a commercial pattern! At least I like to think so.
I ripped apart most seams on one half only. I ended up with the back piece and also a flat front piece that I left whole even though there is an internal seam that dissects it in a very intriguing style line. That's the reason why I wanted to trace off this pattern. I'd be looking for a pattern like it till the cows come home and not find it.
If I had ripped these pieces apart I'd end up with a very thin strip for the side panel. I think it would be very tough to lay this out straight. A piece as narrow as this would go wonky as soon as you look at it. Instead I traced the entire front piece, and then started to roll it back gently and marked the internal seam every couple of centimeters. That was a great way to prevent problems.
Have a look at the photo:
You may be able to trace a simple garment off without having to take it apart, as long as you can get each piece to lie flat. But shapes would get distorted too easily if trying to trace off a complex item with multiple seams like my blouse. I am lucky, I can't wear either of them so I didn't have to worry about it.
Have you sewn anything from a traced off pattern, how did the whole process work out for you? It would be really useful to hear of people's experiences - always good to learn from others. Please share in the comments!
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