Sunday, June 9, 2019

Weekend Review: Patterns from Finished Clothes

Patterns from finished clothes: re-creating the clothes you love /
Tracy Doyle
NY: Sterling, c1996.  127 p.

I have a couple of older books on making patterns from your current clothing. This is a super way to get a copy of any RTW that you've worn to death. And it's an affordable way to make a pattern from something that you already know fits you, and that you love.

This book, from 1996, is a good primer. The author starts with a basic intro to the concept of tracing off RTW, from analyzing your garment to noting how to keep a record of what you're doing and storing your new patterns. There's also a section on basic equipment before you get going.

Then there is a long section on techniques, complete with many, many photographs and clear instruction. She points out some of the common difficulties and how to overcome them, like when you can't get a whole section of a piece of clothing to lay flat at once, or if a piece you want to copy has been stretched out with wear.

She discusses "special considerations" -- ie, how to copy features like darts, tucks, pleats, shirring, and allowing for ease. There's also talk of "hidden elements" like pockets, facing, lining, and so on. Then she chats about different things to be aware of like recreating knits or asymmetrical designs. The instruction assumes that you are a confident home sewer; in the beginning she notes that if you're tackling a pattern challenge like this you are probably familiar with sewing basics by now.

But though they are often concise they are still perfectly clear to an experienced sewer, and even a beginner sewer who is enthusiastic will find them usable and I would hope effective in the end! She makes the process of copying your RTW seem straightforward and possible.

The book ends with encouragement to take these patterns that you've created and add to them, alter them, and make them your own personal favourites. And there is a small gallery of clothing items to finish that shows details and how to have an eye for the elements of design that you might want to replicate. All this in only 127 pages.

I thought that this was a useful basic book on this technique, and opens it up to any interested sewist. It's given me the confidence to try it out soon.


  1. Hi Melanie, I looked this book up in our library, and can you believe there is only one copy and it is in the reference section of the Hobart branch. (Which would take me three hours). But the whole concept sounds wonderful. It must have been a good book.
    I have copied t-shirts before, but nothing more adventurous.

    1. Reference?! That does surprise me! It seems like it is a very straightforward manual. I hope you'll come across a copy some day.

  2. Shoot, not at my library. I'll have to look for a copy to purchase

    1. I'm sure you'll be able to find it second hand somewhere.


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