When I first started sewing in 2010, one of my main goals was to start making the really simple separates that I love to wear but no longer want to spend >$50 on. Trouble is, it’s surprisingly difficult to find really simple patterns for knit skirts, t-shirts, and the like – hence the outpouring of enthusiasm in the sewing blogosphere for Sewaholic’s new Renfrew top – a simple knit top with some neckline and sleeve variations.
About a year ago, I ordered Steffani Lincecum’s Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit which I think is a really underrated book. It teaches you how to rub off existing garments to clone their pattern pieces and, what I love, discusses how this was a common practice for women back in the day (i.e. early to mid 20th century when many women sewed) . I read it cover to cover – as much as one does a technique-filled sewing book – but as I was caught up in other projects, set it, and my patternmaking plans aside for some time
Essentially, there are two techniques . With one technique, you pin the seams of a garment onto a piece of paper (sitting on foam board or something equally pinnable). Use a pen to trace the lines of perforated dots and voila! Pattern! (Well, of course, you might have to make a few adjustments if your garment has darts or pleats or gathers, etc. The book shows you how.). With the other technique, you drape muslin over an existing garment and… I guess sort out what the pattern pieces look like? Clearly I’m hazy on this method, and have not yet tried it out!
I’ve only used this pattern making method on a couple of basic knit projects without darts etc, and I’m really happy with the results. The first was a tshirt (I need to make a few more) cloned off of an American Apparel top I bought ages ago. A couple of weeks ago I finally got around to patterning off a knit skirt I bought in… 2002!… and still wear all the time. Yesterday afternoon, I finished a job application early, was a feeling a bit of ennui and decided to try out this new pattern.
Here is the old skirt, bought in 2002 for $70 or $80 and worn hundreds of times since. It’s skirt perfection. Great, simple pattern, flattering as its made with a double knit fabric, and extremely comfortable. It does have an elastic waist, but it’s not one of those elastic waists, all bunchy and gatherey and unflattering. It just expands gently after a big family meal.
And here is the new – an exact clone except for the hem. I found the original fabric in the clearance section of Gala Fabrics in Victoria – imagine my delight! – and bought up their remaining 3 metres for $15. The original had a kind of frayed edge – big long loops left over after a bunch of the weft threads were pulled out. How they managed that on a knit, I don’t know. I’ve left mine as a raw edge for the time being, and will probably serge/hem it in a couple days.
What I love about this pattern – it’s so fast. While I love the complex projects with detailed seaming, and boning, and all the rest, I really love being able to knock out a skirt in *an hour including cutting* and *using about 3/4 metre of fabric*. I sewed almost all of it on my serger – everything except for the elastic (which I admit I tried and broke a needle on!).
I was so delighted with how quickly this came together – before dinnertime – that I sewed up another between 7 and 8! This one is in a fabric a dear friend bought me as a thank you for helping her get out of a jam. $4/metre double knit in the clearance section at Dressew! I’ll take this kind of thank you gift any day!!
As for the photos – yes, I’m wearing socks 🙂 We took them at my boyfriend’s place, and I only had rainboots with me 🙂
In sum, the pattern drafting took about an hour (and I’m slow) and I’d estimate about 2.5 hours for the skirts. 3.5 hours plus <$10 fabric = two new skirts that I love. Cannot beat that!