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Monday, October 3, 2011

Make a Pattern out of your Favorite Shirt

I needed a new shirt for a while. I finally made one. I've been so busy sewing for other people. Here is the finished product. I've had the fabric for years.
I was admiring the fabric for about a year before buying it. It was about time.
Here is the shirt I started with folded in half. I needed to make some adjustments to it. I want it much longer, the sleeves wider, and the neckline a tad higher.
1. Lay it very flat, making seams symmetrical.
2. Mark the seams, making sure the shirt doesn't move. Ideally, this would be pinned to a cork board table.
4. Add the desired length with a clear ruler, measuring equal distance off of the bottom of the shirt.
5. This shirt has an elastic gathered front. Pull the elastic out to see the original dimensions of the shirt piece. Mark the front shirt dimension and where the elastic starts and stops.
6. For the armholes, lift and mark, keeping your eye on the spot while you lift. (Think like a classic Disney cartoonist does with the layers of paper, flipping them up and down for placement of their next mark.) Do the same for the neckline.
7. Use a clear ruler to connect the marks and make smooth lines.
8. Label the pattern piece 'FRONT'. 'Place on Fold' on the center line. 'Cut 1 on Fold' and 'Size Medium'. Also, 'Made by...' and the date.
9. Unfold the shirt and refold it to make the BACK pattern and use the same techniques described above.
10. VERY IMPORTANT: Add the seam allowance around the whole pattern piece (except the fold edge). I like to work with 1/4 inch, but the standard s.a. is 5/8 inches.
11. The Sleeve. The sleeve connects to the front of the shirt and to the back of the shirt. So that I connect the correct sides label, 'front' and 'back' on either side of the center line before starting the pattern. Also add a 'notch' to the front edge so that you will know which edge is front after it is cut out.
12. Lay the shirt flat so the sleeve edge lines up with the 'center line' that you drew. Use previous techniques described to trace. Flip the shirt over to trace the other side.
13. Label 'Cut 2'. Label the center line the 'grainline'.
14. I added a little width towards the bottom of the sleeve- about 1/4" on both the 'front' edge and the 'back' edge.
Here are the 3 pattern pieces, labelled, seam allowances added, adjustments made. I always say it's better to make a mistake on paper instead of fabric. That is why I almost always make a pattern on paper first.
I cut along the edges so that I can flip them to match stripes, and to make opposite sleeves.
Stripes and Plaids can actually be easier to use because they help you find the grain line easily. They are usually dreaded by seamstresses because of the matching of stripes. Patience and careful attention to detail can pay off.
I might do another posting on how to construct it using some hints and tips, but for now this is a great start. Happy sewing!!

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