Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pattern Making and Tips

I love to wear knit clothing it is just so comfortable! I have a few shirts that I absolutely love and want in a bunch of colors as you may know from reading about my tank tops. Anyway, I got a bunch of beautiful knit in down town LA that I have been dying to work with. So, I am going to attempt to do a tutorial on making a pattern from existing clothing and give a few tips on working with knit. But, before we start, I would suggest copying a favorite tank top or basic T first. Ok, here we go...

This is what I have and want to make. The purple will be the shirt. I though about doing that white and purple as the back on the top where the shirt has the lacy part. But, I didn't think that would work well since the material is very thin. So that other material will probably become a scarf.

Here is what I need...

Lets start copying. First, iron your paper and clothing. 

Now turn the shirt inside out and fold it down the center matching the seams. Put the center fold on the edge of your paper.

Trace your shirt onto your paper, at the bottom allow enough for the hem (this is where you can make your shirt more perfect add more to make it longer, or take away to make it shorter). If the shirt was sherged, you won't have to add seam allowance, it's already there because you are not tracing where they sewed.

My line is not perfect, I will fix that after I remove the shirt.

Trace along the top also.

Now for the arm hole, it makes it a little more accurate if you take a pin and poke holes along the seam where the arm hole is. Then lift the shirt and draw along those holes you poked.

Ok, lift your shirt and see what you have. Here is when you can make a few adjustments like making a fitted T a little wider at the waist so it doesn't creep up. Or take that favorite shirt in a little where it's too loose. Once you finish that, label the pattern piece. I labeled mine and wrote where the fold of the shirt was "center fold" along the edge of the paper.

Cut that piece out. This is where my shirt is a bit different then a basic T. If you are doing a basic T, your pattern piece will be done. For me, it's not. My shirt had some gathering in the front so I have to adjust my pattern piece. I measured from the top of the front to where the gathering was (3 inches) and made a mark. Now I know where my gathering will be. In order for the shirt to fit normal when it is gathered, you can't just make the edge longer, you have to take the shape of the finished garment and stretch that out by making slashes in the pattern. So, between the mark I made at 3 inches and the fold edge, I made a couple slashes and extended them by a 1 to 1.5 ratio. This gives me just a slight gather.

After that I put it on top of another newspaper and re-traced it. Don't forget to label the final pattern piece.

Next, I did the same to the back, but there was no gathering so I was done once I traced it.

Last, I did the sleeves. These sleeves were a little tricky, there was gathering in them on the front and they were bigger in the front then the back, so I couldn't do them like a basic sleeve. I had to basically roll them around while drawing what I needed. (I will have another tutorial on sleeves VERY soon!)

See, not your normal sleeve.

Now, for cutting the fabric. When I work with knit, it only took me one time to learn, never lay it out on the carpet and cut there. I always go to the table where it will slide easily. The carpet tends to stick to it and it stretches all wrong. You DON'T want the knit to stretch as you are tracing and cutting.

I smoothed out my fabric and folded it...

Placed my pattern piece on the fold where the label tells me to...

Traced it, then cut it out. I did it again with the back.

Now for the sleeves, I folded the fabric, placed my pattern onto, traced and cut it out. This time not on the fold. I did that 1 time and I have 2 sleeves.

Here are my pattern pieces all folded still. The sleeves are on top of eachother. You will notice on mine, the shoulder piece is only on the back of the shirt. Looking back closely at my shirt, the front didn't go to the shoulder, it was the sleeve that went there and the "kind of" bias tape connected the sleeve and the front of the shirt. Your shirt should have the shoulder that connects at the top of the front and back.

Time to sew. Unfold the pieces and lay them right sides together. Pin them a ton! I pin knit a ton so it doesn't stretch or slip out of place when sewing. Sew in a zig zag on the edge, then go back down and sew a straight line right on the edge of the zig zag. (This seam doesn't need to be stretchy.)

When sewing knit, I start about 1/2 an inch from the edge so it doesn't get bunched inside the machine. Then, I flip it around and start where I started sewing the other way off the edge. You will understand better from the picture.

After I sewed the sides, I sewed the arms the same as the side with a zig zag and then straight line after. Last, the finishings. (Hems, bindings, etc.)

Looking at the front of the shirt, it had kind of a bias tape along the top. 

I say kind of, because with knit, it doesn't have to be cut on the bias. Anyway, I made that by cutting out an inch of fusable interfacing and ironed that onto an inch of my fabric. Then I ironed it in 1/2 and ironed the 2 sides into the middle. To sew it on, I did it just like you would bias tape...

Open it up, pin it onto the inside...

Sew along that fold mark near the top.

Unpin and fold it around to the outside. Looks nice, huh. Can't even see the stitching.

Now sew the other side down. I did this without pinning, it works better for me since it's so thin. I just go slow and fold and guide it with my fingers as I go.

Once it is all finished, the hems are done in a zig zag so they stay stretchy with the shirt, time to try it on. The best part!

Yeah! It fits. I love the fit of this shirt, it's loose enough that I can eat and my belly doesn't pop out out of the shirt. But it's not too loose that it looks frumpy. Very summery too. No off to the Clipper game on a beautiful warm night.

Happy sewing!

I am linking with: 
DIY Home Sweet Home
Keeping it Simple - Motivate Me Monday
Sumo's Sweet Stuff
Mad in Crafts
Not JUST a Housewife
All Thingz RelatedThe Girl Creativegiveaways


  1. I love it!! I've made patterns before but it's been a loooooong time!! LOL! I have some pattern print paper that I use and a rotary marking tool (don't know if that's the "official" name) so I don't have to use newsprint. You've inspired me to get out my tools and get to work! I even have some jersey material in my fabric pile...hhmm... :o)
    Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Wow! That is just amazing! Sewing is in my DNA somewhere but the gene hasn't kicked in yet. I have my grandmother's machine and my hubby even bought a machine for his projects--- I have yet to sit down at either one. Pitiful, isn't it.

  3. Great job and the top is so flattering on you! I'm always amazed when people can make their own patterns. I've been sewing since I was a girl but I'm still a chicken when it comes to design. Love your blog!

    Sherry @ A Happy Valentine

  4. I just hopped over from a link party (can't even remember which one now!)--this is great! I found a pricey dress that I'm sure I could copy if only I knew how to draft a pattern and this will be so helpful! Thanks!


  5. I love it! Great color and fit! Thanks for sharing the tutorial!