December 27, 2018

DIY: Make patterns by cloning your clothes (Basic T-Shirt Part 1)

Before I learnt how to develop patterns and draft basic blocks (Winifred Aldrich, Bunka, Helen Joseph Armstrong, etc),  I was itching to make my own clothes but didn't know how to develop patterns or how to take body measurements so I began by cloning patterns from my existing clothes. Cloning clothes is great way to start for beginners as the clothes will definitely fit even if the sewing doesn't turn out so well.

In this tutorial, I'll be showing how to clone patterns from your existing wardrobe, we'll start with the most basic garment - a t-shirt.

  • A t-shirt to clone
  • Pencil
  • Sharpie marker
  • Eraser
  • Paper Scissors
  • Brown papers / Mahjong papers
  • Metric Ruler
  • French Curve Ruler (Optional if you're going for free-hand drawing) Available at Lye Nai Siong or Spotlight. 
  • Tailor chalk and dressmaker pins for cutting fabrics in part 2

  1. Start by folding the shirt into half
  2. Fold the brown paper into half and place the centre front of the shirt on the fold line. 
  3. Trace the hem, side seams, armhole, shoulder and neckline, the armhole part is a little tricky so I used my finger to press on the seam-line and gauge the points, you can also use pins for better accuracy. Do the same for neckline
  4. Remove the shirt and connect the pencil dots
  5. For the armhole and neckline, you can connect the dots with a curve ruler or do it free hand. 
  6. Add 2cm seam allowance to the hem and 1cm allowance for the rest and we’re done with the front
  7. Unfold the paper
  8. Fold the shirt on the back and place on the fold line
  9. Extend the hem line down from front piece
  10. Match the back hem to the line
  11. Trace the neckline, shoulder, armhole and side seams
  12. Connect the lines and add seam allowances
  13. Add grain lines and mark centre front and centre back. Grain line is important as a guide when cutting fabrics, I’ll share more in the next video
  14. Cut the patterns out
  15. Few things to take note, the side seams of front and back should be matching in length, the intersection of armhole and side seam lines should ideally have a 90 degree angle but since its supposed to be an easy home project, we don’t have to follow the professional practice but if you have the tools and understanding, do go ahead and correct the angles. for me, i’m keeping it as it is, also check that the shoulder seam lines should match in length. 
  16. Take a smaller piece of brown paper and fold it into half
  17. Place the front sleeve on the fold line
  18. Trace the seamlines and for the armhole part, i used my finger to press on the seamline and gauge the points
  19. Unfold the paper, extend the sleeve hem
  20. Place the back sleeve along the fold line and trace the seamliness
  21. Connect the dots and indicate the shoulder point and grain line
  22. You’ll notice the curve for the front is steeper than the back, this is to allow more arm movement for the front. the back bodice is usually flatter so the curve is more gentle.
  23. Once I have the basic sleeve shape, I am able to modify the design, I can extend the sleeve length or shorten it. I can also widen the sleeves by adding some flare at the side. 
  24. I’m going to extend the length so i can roll up the sleeves and also add a little flare, my shirt is more of an oversized design. 
  25. Add 2cm seam allowance to the hem and 1cm allowance for the rest 
  26. Take note of the hem when cutting the pattern, its important to fold the seam line and cut. This is to mirror the underarm seam, so when i fold up the hem, there won’t be gaps at the sides. 
  27. When I'm sewing, I’ll match the sleeve’s shoulder point to the bodice’s shoulder point, front sleeve will be sewn to front and back sleeve to back bodice. 
  28. The back neckline is normally higher than the front, you can raise or lower the neckline according to preference. 
  29. For the bottom, you can shorten the hem for a crop top or elongate it to make into a shirt dress, you can also flare out the side seams for a relaxed fit or taper down for slim fit.

With these basic patterns, you are able to create your own t shirts and not worrying if they’re able to fit! In my next video, I'll demonstrate how to cut fabric using these patterns and steps to sew the pieces into one shirt. If you would like to see another tutorial on how to clone skirts, dresses and other basics, let me know by commenting below or drop me a message! xx

Photos by Jason.



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