Monday, April 30, 2007

Kopy Kats, Part 2--Jamaica

Dissecting 101 Class Now In Session

In case you've forgotten (or thought I had), roll has been called and class is now beginning. Today we are studying how to copy a ready-to-wear item, in this case a cute little ruffled baby top. Those of you who didn't play hooky today may want to go back and reread the April 19 post first.

Okay, class, let's get started. As usual, we will begin at the beginning. We have our supplies: paper, pencil, ruler, big eraser, random curved object (yall have seen what I use!), felt tip marker, pins, and a nice hot steamy iron. Don't burn yourself, I don't want to have to fill out a Student Accident Report Form in quadruplicate......

At this stage of the game, I use computer paper. Why? It's stiff. And it's sitting right here. Those are good reasons. If I am tracing something and I need a large piece of paper, I just tape a few sheets together. Yes, you can use newspaper. Dry your hands off first.......

Study your garment. Locate the center front and center back. Check out the grainlines to see if anything is cut on the bias. If so, make a note. Yes, you will be taking notes today. No, I'm not going to write it all on the board...........

Now fold the front down the center. Press well on the fold. Press flat. Flatter than a pancake. As flat as a piece of paper. Put the paper under the garment, and trace as close as possible around the edges. Use the ruler to straighten your lines. You lost your ruler? Well, borrow his ruler, okay?????????

Repeat for each piece. Sleeves are tricky, since you can't really fold them in half and get an accurate sleeve. Trace one side, flip it over, and trace the other side. Pay attention to armholes. Well, I know this requires a lot of pressing, but this baby top is sooooo cute!!!

Now cut out your paper pieces. Since these don't have any seam allowances on them, you should be able to lay the original garment over the paper pieces and check your drawings. Yes, you may have to do some of them over. I'll wait for you......

Now we'll measure things and make a lot more notes. Yes, you can sharpen your pencil.......

I guess you can tell what I've been doing all day......teaching school. Only 14 more days. Hopefully no one will get sent to the office.......

From this point on, I'm going to ignore all THEM. And concentrate on YOU, instead. YOU are a lot more fun.

My notes and measurements for this top:

  • Seams are all 1/4 inch.

  • The finished width of the straps is 1 inch, and it was cut on the fold. Its finished length is 5 5/8 inches.

  • There are 3 buttons, 1/2 inch. The top buttonhole is horizontal, but the bottom two are vertical (that's interesting, isn't it?). The buttons are 2 1/2 inches apart.

  • The finished width of the bodice front facing is 1 1/4 inches.

  • The total finished length of the bodice along the center front is 8 inches.

  • The finished width of the back fold-back facing is 1 1/4 inches.

  • The bodice is divided into four horizontal sections as follows: part 1 is 1 1/4 high, parts 2and 3 are 2 inches high, and part 4 is 2 1/4 inches high. Go back and look at the inside of the front photo on April 19 and you'll see what I'm talking about.

  • Each bodice piece has a double ruffle that is sewn into the seam. The bottom ruffle on each section is exactly the same height as its corresponding piece. The top ruffle on each piece is 1 inch high.

  • The width of each ruffle is 2 1/2 times the width of the underlying bodice piece.

  • The armholes are finished with bias binding.

Here are my thoughts on all this, in no particular order:

  • By using the finished measurements, I can add whatever seam allowance makes me happy. In this case, I am liking 3/8 inch seam allowances a lot. So I'm going with that.

  • Studying the original garment will help you decide sewing order of the pieces.

  • I'm going to use 1 1/2 inch wide bias strips for the armholes.

  • Instead of cutting all those ruffles, I am going to tear fabric strips. Easier, more accurate, and I like the way it sounds when I do it.

  • I made sure the side seams of the front and back were exactly the same length.

Now that I have my mind wrapped around it all, I'm ready to add seam allowances and hems. To do so I had to cut my original front piece into four sections (parts 1-4).

One word of caution here: If you are copying something that was originally in a woven fabric, duplicate it in a woven. If you are copying a knit, duplicate it in knit. Make sure each knit piece has the same amount of stretch. May The Force Be With You if you're doing a knit....

A cautious person makes this up in muslin. I'm not that cautious. Here are my pattern pieces already cut out: four front bodice patterns, one back pattern, and one strap pattern. That's it.

I marked pattern pieces, fold lines, seam allowances, facing turn lines, little dots for the straps, etc.. Then I went over my neat little lines somewhat haphazardly with a Sharpie when I realized you wouldn't be able to see my pencil marks.

Each bodice piece is atop its corresponding ruffle sections.

I'm excited. So I started sewing on Jamaica!

I folded each ruffle section in half and pressed it on the fold.

Then I stacked them with the raw edges even:

Hmmmm.....not sure about this. I put in two rows of gathering stitches and pinned it to the top bodice piece and was not happy. It wasn't ruffly enough. I mean, if you're a girl, you want ruffles, right?

So I decided that 2 1/2 times the width of the bodice piece wasn't going to work for me. I cut off 4 times the width pieces and tried them. I also made the bottom ruffle a tad higher while I was at it. This next picture shows the difference:

The one on the bottom is much better. So I pulled up the gathers and soon had this, which is the part 1 (top) of the front bodice.

Oh, la la!

Since these are such fuzzy thoughts, please ask questions. I'm sure your head hurts by now.


CandlebyNight said...

That fabric is gorgeous. I can't wait to see the finished product.

Anonymous said...

I'm a pretty new reader of your blog. I love this little tutorial! I want to make a pattern from a RTW knit top I purchased, but you seem to discourage that. Can I ask why?
I've never made a pattern from an already-made garment. But I love this top! I am an intermediate level sewer.