I've been meaning to do something about cloning my favourite black jersey RTW top for ages, especially as it's very definitely middle-aged now. I'd read other blogs about how to trace off a garment so you can make a pattern and duplicate a much loved item...so I thought I'd have a go and I'm really, REALLY pleased with the results!
What do I like about the favourite top? The curved front and back hems, the batwing shoulder and dropped shoulder seam and the sleeve. I love how it's quite fitted. Oh and I also like the neckline...not too high, not too low. So that's my list of essential criteria! Bring out the tracing paper...
I even ironed a sheet of (I think) Burda pattern paper to get rid of the creases before I started. Then I took a lot of time and care to smooth out the 'front' of the RTW top so I could add my 5/8" seam allowance around the edges. I just used a felt-tipped pen to draw carefully and also used a tape measure to make sure I was adding a consistent seam allowance.
The neckline was a little bit more difficult but just feel the neck binding edge and mark it on the paper. Fold the front piece in half and mark the centre front hem (always useful to know) and the centre front neckline edge. Draw a curved line from the centre neck to the shoulder seam and that's it. Repeat the tracing process for the back piece and sleeve piece and you've got a pattern.
The fabric was a remnant I pulled from a good rake about the knitted fabric remnant box at Mandors in Glasgow on our September weekend. It was £7 for the 2 metre piece, which did admittedly have three large holes cut out of it so presumably it had been an ex-display piece. Anyway, it's a viscose and probably has some lycra in it too. One thing about this style, the shoulder seam is very vulnerable to stretching out so I stabilised it with some seam tape and that's worked a treat. I overlocked the seam first and then used my sewing machine to sew the seam tape on. That's worked out well!
The neck band was much more difficult to try and work out, with the added pressure that a wonky neck band would spoil the whole garment. I haven't made a separate pattern piece for it. Again, more Heath-Robinson measuring! I took my measuring tape and measured around the neck edge. This was 26". I then thought about how stretchy and fine my practice fabric is and decided to make a 23" circumference neck band. I had enough fabric to cut another one if I needed to.
What would I change next time? I'd add a few centimetres to the length of the sleeves. That's the only change I'd make! The neck band will be the most 'challenging' thing about making other tops as it's going to vary depending on the fabric - no two stretch fabrics are the same. I've got some lovely cream bamboo fabric waiting to be cut out for version two so stay tuned for that.
Have you tried copying a favourite garment...without unpicking it? Let me know how you got on, I'd love to hear about it!