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Duplicate Your Favorite Jeans

Make a pattern without taking them apart.
Threads #180, Aug./Sept. 2015
Custom jeans (left), in the fabric of your choice, have the same fit and silhouette as your ready-to-wear jeans (right). Fabric: Cotton-spandex print denim, EmmaOneSock.com. Jack Deutsch; all others, Sloan Howard. Stylist: Jessica Saal. Hair and makeup: AgataHelena.com. Styling credits: top—Vince Camuto (LordAndTaylor.com), shoes—JCrew.com; top—Calvin Klein (Macys.com), belt—stylist’s own, shoes—BCBGeneration (DSW.com).
Updated May 2022

Great-fitting jeans are a treasure. They’re comfortable and flattering. If you find them in ready-to-wear, you’re likely to discover that the style has been discontinued a season later—just when you’ve come to rely on them as a wardrobe staple. There’s no need to fret, because you can copy them easily. Instead of trying to engineer a commercial pattern into the style you like, you can make a pattern directly from the garment, and there’s no need to take the pants apart.

The rub-off technique shown is simple to understand and requires few supplies and no previous patternmaking experience. It involves tracing a pattern directly from an existing pair of pants. Your first attempts will take a little longer, but you’ll be surprised at how quickly you master the process. Your pattern won’t have sewing instructions, of course, so you may want to refer to a general sewing book, such as the Threads Sewing Guide (The Taunton Press, 2011), or a pattern that has similar features.

When making your new pants, be sure to match the fabric characteristics to those of the original as closely as possible. If you experiment with different fabrics, the pattern may require some adjustments. You can use the rub-off technique to copy almost any garment you like, and remake it as many times as you wish.

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