How to Copy Ready Made Clothes

Things You'll Need

  • Large flat surface
  • Pinnable padding
  • Tape
  • Soft pencil
  • Needle and thread
  • Wide, medium weight sew-in interfacing or Swedish tracing paper
  • Heavy duty sewing or quilting pins

If you have finally found a perfect fitting pair of pants or blouse or that old favorite is wearing out, making a pattern from an already completed garment is a good solution. You can make a pattern from an existing garment without damaging the original, even if the garment is quite complex. Start by copying a simple garment to learn the basic techniques and methods used to make a pattern from ready to wear.

How to Copy Ready Made Clothes

Prepare your surface to make a pattern from a finished garment. Use an affordable cardboard cutting board as a pinning surface or cover your table with a heavy blanket. Tape the padding into place on your table to prevent shifting.

Run a vertical and horizontal thread through your original garment to mark the grain lines of the fabric. Use a magnifying glass if necessary to help identify the grain on the ready-made garment.

Look carefully at the item you are copying. Fold along the center seam if there is one in the garment. Fold along the crotch seam if you are copying ready-made pants, or fold across the width of the garment at the center of the bodice for a shirt, blouse or dress. Trace smaller or complex garments flat. Keep pattern layouts in mind when you copy ready-made clothes and create pattern pieces in a logical way.

Pin the garment into place on your padded surface. Add pins along each seam, placing them quite close together. Use these pinned lines when copying ready-made clothes to help you create an accurate pattern.

Place interfacing over your pinned garment. Trace the shape of the garment along each seamline using a soft lead pencil. Allow an adequate margin on the interfacing for seam allowances and cutting.

Trace each section of the garment piece by piece, working carefully along the seams to make a pattern. Label each pattern piece as you go along to avoid later confusion. Cut your pattern pieces with a 1/4 - inch, 3/8 - inch or 5/8 - inch seam allowance as you prefer.

Assemble your new clothes, using the ready-made clothes as an example. Have a good sewing manual or a pattern for a similar item handy to help with sewing order and instructions.


  • As you lay out pattern pieces, be sure to maintain the grain of your fabric using the threads you ran through the fabric as a guide.


About the Author

With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.