How to Make a Pattern

Question: Can I create a pattern from a favorite dress, blouse, or skirt without taking the original apart?

Answer: It can be done -- and it only takes patience and a few tools!

This tutorial is for folks who have a garment they'd love to reproduce as closely as possible. We've all had a favorite dress or blouse that fit us just right, haven't we? We wear it for years until it is almost worn out, and then we mourn the fact that we can't buy a replacement, since the design has long since been retired from the original store or catalogue. So what's an seamstress to do? Take a pattern and recreate the garment!* [Note: The instructions below are for a dress but will work just as well for blouses or skirts.]

The following is a list of tools I consider must-haves for this project:

  1. Cardboard cutting surface (those ones that fold up like an accordion are great) or another large surface you can pin into (like a quilted cork board).
  2. Lots of pins (heavy-duty quilting pins are best)
  3. Good quality interfacing that comes on a wide roll (you can get "Swedish Tracing Paper" by the roll at Clotilde -- it's sturdy interfacing made for these kinds of projects).
  4. Pencil with a soft lead (so you don't have to push down too hard for a good, dark line).

Now, get ready to do a bit of a dance with the dress you want to copy! This takes slow, patient work, but it is worth it if you have a favorite dress you'd like to reproduce!

With a little trial and error, you'll soon be a pro at recreating favorite garments. It really is easy--just takes some time and lots of patience!

Jennie Chancey

* Please note that these instructions are for personal, private use only. It is not kosher to take a current design and produce knock-offs for sale!

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