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How To Make A Sewing Pattern: Using Woven Garments

How to make a sewing pattern using a woven garment - The Creative Curator

How To Make A Sewing Pattern Using A Woven Garment

One of the five ways I know of to create patterns for yourself is to use existing garments. It’s actually a trick used often in the fashion industry! So today, we’re looking at how to make a sewing pattern using existing woven garments.

This ‘How To Make A Sewing Pattern’ post is part 3 of the Perfect Pattern series. If you haven’t had a chance to read the earlier posts, you can do so here:

Part 1: Fit Issues and How to Assess Your Body

Part 2: Pattern Ease: What Is It and How Is It Used?

There’s also the free Pattern Making Basics email course you can sign up for by checking this post / lesson plan.

Alrighty, lets get crackin’!

Why Use Existing Woven Clothes?

A great reason for using an existing piece of clothing to make your own sewing pattern is because you KNOW it fits you. With sewing patterns, there can be a lot of measuring, and disappointment when the final piece doesn’t come out as you expected. Making a sewing pattern using this technique means that you’ll have a basic technique to work with.

Selecting a Garment

When learning how to make a sewing pattern, you’ll want start by choosing a suitable garment to make a sewing pattern. Ideally for this lesson, you will want to start out with a woven garment, This is because knit fabric responds differently to woven fabric. (We’ll cover knit patterns next week, so I shan’t cover it here!)

Lets choose a pair of jeans that you LOVE wearing, but that don’t quite make the grade anymore… Holes in the crotch, a thinning upper inside thigh… you get the picture right? 😉

Fibre Content

First up, we need to know the fibre content. If the denim has any lycra added, the denim with be stretchy and we will need to factor this in when taking the pattern. For super stretch skinny jeans, the amount of added lycra means that the pattern possibly has an element of negative ease. (Again that is covered in next week’s post.)

Tools To Make Woven Sewing Patterns

When learning how to make a sewing pattern, you’ll want to have certain tools by your side. For this technique we will want:

  • Workspace
  • Paper scissors
  • Pattern paper
  • Pins
  • Ruler
  • A woven garment
  • Weights
  • Tracing wheel
  • Hard pencil (I like 4H best)
  • Highlighter pens
  • Eraser
  • Tape measure
  • Pattern master or french curve

Setting Up

Now that you have your tools you’re all set to make a woven sewing pattern from clothes. Start by setting up your space. (In Lesson 1 in my free email course I talk about the importance of workspace and mindset.) Having the right space from the start of the process means you can get crackin’ on creating the pattern in one go.

This means having only what you need near to you. I usually have a pot with my tools in, the tape measure around my neck and then I’m set!

How To Make A Sewing Pattern From A Woven Garment

  1. Use your paper scissors to cut a piece of pattern paper slightly bigger than your garment.
  2. Place the pattern paper on your work space.
  3. Fold your garment in half on the workspace, making sure that key point match; for my shirt I will use the neck / shoulder point, the shoulder tip and the side seam hem as my markers.
  4. Place pins down the fold line on both front and back of the garment. If you are using a shirt, you may not need to do the front, as the buttons would usually be the centre front line.
  5. Place the garment to one side.
  6. Use your ruler to draw a straight line down the centre of the paper. This will be your centre front and centre back.
  7. Lay your garment flat on top of the paper. You want to make sure that the centre front and centre back of the garment is in line with the line you drew previously.
  8. Place a weight at the top of the garment, and again at the hem. Be sure that you aren’t stretching out the fabric along this line.
  9. Next, smooth the fabric out towards the side seam and place weights in these key areas, holding the garment in place.
  10. Use the combination of your pencil and the tracing wheel to carefully trace around the garment. You need to work with one section at a time – so if you are opting to trace the front, do the front first, then the back, then the sleeve. Don’t try to do all in one go, but do try to keep them all on the one piece of paper. (I have all the sections on one sheet of paper, overlapping each other, because it allows me to see more easily if there are any major differences in the connecting seams.)
  11. If one section of the garment is bigger than the other, you may need to manoeuvre the garment slightly to be able to trace all of that section. You can do this by moving the weights towards the section that needs manoeuvring, and then edging the fabric carefully until the seam you need to trace is lying flat on the paper. Be VERY careful not to take the section off the grain that is the centre front / centre back – you’ll end up with wonkiness!
  12. Once it is all traced, mark in the grain line of the sections before removing the garment from the paper.
  13. You should now have clear pencil outlines. I like to take my highlighter pens and highlight the front and back lines using different colours.
  14. Use your pattern master or french curve and ruler to clean up your original traced lines.
  15. Finally, use the tape measure on its edge to measure the seam lines and ‘true up’ correctly. If you don’t know the term ‘truing’, you can also read this post for more information!
  16. Your final job is to trace off the sections, add seam allowance and toile up the pattern to check the fit. You’re then ready to get really creative with it!

Perfect Pattern Part 4

Next week’s post is the final one in the series.. unless I decide to carry on writing! 😉

Be sure to check back – it will be filled with info on creating a pattern from a knit garment! In the meantime, if you haven’t already done so, why not sign up for my free email course on Pattern Making Basics? You can then join the Facebook Group to post your homework and chat with the other students! Boom shackalacka! 🙂

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