Moving Beyond Commercial Sewing Patterns: Making Your Own From RTW

Learn how to copy RTW garments!

Copying: Fashions Highest Form of Flattery

imageplaceholder Jill Case
Online Editor, Sew Daily

It's not where you take things from – it's where you take them to.  – Jean-Luc Godard on imitation.

I have, and I believe you do too, a few garments that I've bought over the years that I love and wear to death. I have a little dress and when I say little I mean little, that I wore originally without a care as to how short it was. Well, now a few years later I don't feel comfortable wearing it just as a dress. Now I wear it as a tunic or a breezy jacket with skinny jeans. I bought it in a cute shop, long since gone, on Boulder's Pearl Street Mall. It's a very simple dress with buttons, back darts, bust and waist darts. It's made with the loveliest and lightest silk. There are a few tiny holes and it has been  showing wear and tear as of late. This dress is on my list of RTW items that I want to replicate. 

I highly recommend learning how to copy RTW garments and make them your own. If you are comfortable with sewing from commercial patterns then this is the next logical step in your sewing journey. I'd like to give you some tips before you start. With practice you'll be able to see something in a store and practically make it your own.

  1.  I started out by going to the thrift store. You can find some decent blouses and dresses and if you make a complete mess of it, you won't be breaking the bank.
  2. Knits are a great place to start with copying RTW. Knits can be more forgiving than a woven.
  3. My first draft came out darn good, but it still needed some tweaking and I believe I made two drafts before finally getting it all down right and perfect. Don't expect to have a perfect garment right off the first draft. Like anything in sewing sometimes you need to make more than one before you get it right. 
  4. Whether working with wovens or knits, rip out the stitches carefully of the RTW garment.
  5. Know where your grainline is on the RTW piece.
  6. For your first copying don't use a complicated garment with lots of details. Simple is a good place to start.

Have you ever copied a garment? How did you do? If you would like to hone your skills please be sure to check out the latest class offering on copying RTW garments. Your closet will thank you.

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About Jill

I am the Online Editor for Sew Daily and I am so incredibly excited to meet everyone here on this amazing sewing community!

My first passion is garment sewing, I love vintage sewing patterns and working with knits and silks. I also get very jazzed about sewing pants and love learning couture techniques. What about you? I can't wait to get started finding out more about you and what you like to sew.