How to draft Patterns from old clothes

Drafting from old clothes can be done in 3 techniques.

  1. Tracing technique
  2. Cutout technique

We now walk into these 2 techniques. I want you to try them both and use what you are comfortable with. Please don’t decide with eyes. I want you to actually work on all of them.

Don’t read this, it may sounds complicated. Get your pencil, scale, measuring tape, paper and follow along while reading. It was so easy than it looks.

For this you need any old clothing item with good fit. When you are starting out, don’t choose a hard one and overwhelm. Go for simple clothing with minimal details. Once you get this right, you can move to moderate style. To demonstrate I’m using my son’s tee which was has a good fit already.

Before you begin, you need to press the clothing to avoid any folds or creases.

1.Tracing Technique

  1. Find the center front and paste masking tape or cello tape for reference. You can even use tailor’s chalk and draw a line on center of clothing.  To measure center, fold the clothing in half and crease the center. Using these as guide, mark the center front. 
  2. Overlap a tracing or parchment sheet and draw center line.

3. Trace along one side of the clothing and darken the lines using scales.

4. Trace the back, the same way.

5. Now we need to true this pattern by matching shoulder and side seam. My back shoulder was bit larger. so I reduced it to match the frond shoulder line and the side seam looks perfect. If you need to make any adjustments, this is the time.

6. Add the seam allowance. General seam allowance measurements are 1/4th inch on neckline and  armhole, 1/2 inch on sideseam and shoulder, 1 – 1.5 inches on hem.

All readymade garments has 1.5cms seam allowance all around.

7. Add the markings of grainline, name, size, date, number of pieces to cut. You can even include armhole (A.H), sideseam (S.S), Hem, Front neck (F.N), Back neck (B.N), shoulder (S.H).

8. The Sleeve: Draw a straight line for center. First trace the front sleeve and then trace the back sleeve as shown in the images. 

To true the sleeve, fold the sleeve in half and match the side seams. Make any adjustments if you find any longer or shorter. Then match the armhole with front and back bodice armhole. Add seam allowance.

9. Draft the neck band. this tee neck round measures 16.5 inches and I wanted to draft on fold to save paper. so it’s 8.25 inches. width is 1 inch which will be folded in half and sewn later. Seam allowance is same as neck which is 1/4th inch.

Finally this is how the finished pattern looks!

2. Cut-out Technique

This is the simplest technique. For this you need clothes that you don’t wear anymore. the simplest, the better.

  1. Cut along the seam-lines and separate all the pieces.
  2. Press them to smooth the folds and creases.
  3. Fold the pieces to center and Place it on a patterns sheet and trace along.
  4. True the patterns as I showed in tracing technique and add seam allowance.

I hope you now got the clarity of how you can recreate patterns from old clothes and it’s time to actually implement. Pull out your old clothes and do as many as you can. 

Today’s Task:

  • Find an old piece of clothing that you don’t wear anymore. (a simple one)
  • Try tracing technique and draft the pattern.
  • Try cutout technique and draft another pattern.
  • True the patterns.
  • Make final pattern with seam allowance and markings.