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Saturday, 17 September 2016

Create Sewing Patterns From Your Old Clothing

eSheep Designs shorts
Two pairs of shorts made with help from an old pair of shorts...
Today is the last of my recent run of posts about sewing clothes and the specific topic is how to make your own sewing pattern out of a discarded garment.

Similar to how my skirt project got started, I had a pair of white shorts that had been in my summer and holiday rotation for years and years. (I have photos of me wearing them from as far back as 1995.) Two years ago, I finally decided to say goodbye to them, as the waistband had begun to fray.

Then I realized why I had worn these shorts for so long: I liked the style. (Unlike my one and only white skirt, I had three other pairs of white shorts.) I liked how they were cut sort of skirt-like with wide leg openings and how they had a nifty little faux fly in the front. And the elastic waist gave them convenient pull-on comfort.

With that in mind, I decided to disassemble them and make a new pair using the pieces as a pattern template.

Pleats and a faux fly front...
If you've never done this before, it is an excellent way to recreate something that you like with more or less foolproof results. 'Cause if the original garment fits well, you can be assured that your result will also fit well. Not only that, if there are parts of the original that can be reused, all the better. (I reclaimed the elastic and the buttons that trimmed the faux fly.)

I will recommend, however, that you don't just take your seam ripper and "have at it". It helps a whole lot to take the time to check out — in detail — how your garment is sewn together before taking it apart.

With these shorts, I took a series of photos from all angles and locations.

Documenting how the shorts are sewn together as I deconstruct it...

I actually took notes too, although I did not have to refer to them afterwards; a pair of shorts is, after all, a relatively simple piece of clothing.

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As you start to take the stitches out, try to make permanent marks on the pieces of fabric to record the placement of any pleats, darts, etc. (I realize this will be difficult with some colours and some fabrics; pins will be your friends in that situation.)

Another thing: label your pieces as you go, i.e., Right Front, Left Front, Right Back, etc.

eSheep Designs shorts
Photos are cheap these days... take more than you need to be on the safe side!

Pay particular attention to seam allowances! (Write them onto the fabric itself if you can; that way you won't lose the info.)

Once you're done, give everything a good ironing — if possible — and ensure that every piece can be identified. (Again, these shorts were easy: the result was only four pieces; the waistband was actually not a "band", but an extension of the main pieces.)

Then the fun begins. Pin these templates onto your new fabric of choice and you're on your way to making a reproduction of a favourite old garment. (Or an inspired amalgamation. My shorts are a poor example, but if you have a shirt or something with parts that can be reused, it might be an interesting mash-up to see old fabric paired up with new.)

eSheep Designs shorts
I took advantage of a shortcut...
used the existing hem from the bed sheet as the hem on the legs of the shorts!

My fabric of choice was a bed sheet that first appeared on a wallet. (It was also used on one of my Make it Yours test bags... and no, I don't have any progress to update you on in terms of that project.)

eSheep Designs shorts
Pleats and faux fly pinned and ready for sewing...

With this first version, I remade the entire pair of shorts in the exact same way as the original. On my second pair (the blue flowered one that you see in the photo at the top of this post), I left out the pleats and the buttons.

eSheep Designs shorts
Close-up of the finished pleats and the button trim on the faux fly...

If the original was not exactly perfect for you, now is your chance to make it perfect. Did you want something to be longer? Wider? More fitted? Now is the time to try it out. I would even suggest basting your new "pattern pieces" themselves in a revised configuration (to make something shorter or more fitted, for example) where possible.

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I thought briefly about adding a set of pockets to these but then decided to wait until the next time. It would have been pretty easy to add an "in seam" pocket along both sides.

eSheep Designs shorts
Almost at the finish line... all that's left is to secure the bottom of the waistband
and then thread in the elastic...

But then of course, by the time I made this blue pair two years later, I forgot about the pockets. Maybe on my third try??

eSheep Designs shorts
An easy pair of shorts to sew and to wear!

The fabric here is again another bed sheet, last seen — I believe — on a hat I made for Mom.

Of course, this method of "deconstruct old to construct new" works on other things too, like stuffed toys, cushions, bags, purses. Obviously, the more complex the item, the more difficult it will be to recreate a new one for yourself. For me, this simple crossbody bag from last summer was a fairly easy project.

Have you ever attempted this type of reconstruction project? If so, what was it?

1 comment:

  1. What a good idea to take photos of the garment before you deconstructed it. I have never done this with clothes, but have used this process with a doll stroller liner. I scribbled on and marked the pieces, too.


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