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masking tape pattern

bonkers | Posted in Fitting on

To anyone who has tried the pattern making described in issue # 120. This is the article describing how to make your pattern from ready to wear slacks that fit well. I was amazed by the tecnique of taping the whole garment and then peeling the tape off to make a pattern. Have any of you sewers tried this? I hesitate to buy a roll of tape and then find it is a theory that only works on paper! Hope someone has tried this and will let me know how it turned out. Also, does Spellcheck work on this site? Ha! i hope so.  Bonkers


  1. Skye | | #1

    yes tried it on a pair of pants and it worked well. Took a little while to do though

  2. tmorris1 | | #2

    BonkersI have used this technique for years to make jeans for people from their perfect fitting pair (see the thread regarding jeans alterations in general discussion). It is great for this use because jeans are usually put through a lot of wear, and often get holes or tears which make it harder to accurately develop and exact pattern. The masking tape allows me to compensate for these issues, and not come out with a warped pattern. Just a note, the wider your tape is, the quicker it is to complete.

    Edited 4/16/2007 9:18 pm ET by tmorris1

    1. bonkers | | #3

      Thanks for your reply. I just bought tape today and I am going to try this on my favorite jeans. I`ll keep you posted on how I do. Bonkers

      1. tmorris1 | | #4

        When remaking jeans, be careful with the seam allowances. Anything with a double welt seam will have a smaller seam allowance on one side than the other (one seam allowance is trimmed in the construction process in order to fold another around it) Use the fade marks on the deconstructed leans to determine where the seams are shorter and add this to your pattern. If you do not factor this in, you will run the risk of having seams that are off center.

        1. bonkers | | #5

          Good point! I havent started this yet because I bought the wrong kind of tape. It was not sticky enough to stay on the denim fabric so Ill have to save it for a paint project! Thanks for the input.

          1. tmorris1 | | #6

            Your goal is not to keep the tape stuck to the garment piece. The tape should only be sticky enough to make a sheet of masking tape out of, place your garment piece on to, then trace, make your alterations, and cut out. You will want to stick something to the back side of your tape pattern piece as well (paper works well) just to keep it from sticking to everything, and give it more stability. Mark the pieces (front, back, waistband etc) and you can hang them all together on a pants hanger in the closet - they do not fold very well.

          2. bonkers | | #7

            Got the jeans made! They are just perfect. I used plain yellow masking tape instead of the blue painters tape that would not even stick to itself very well. Cheap brand!  I got in my husbands tape supply and found his masking tape. I had better replace it before he finds the empty space! I am going to use this method again with my favorite dress slacks. Bonkers

          3. MaryinColorado | | #9

            Way to go!  Glad this method works well, I hope to try it someday when I catch up on other projects.  Mary

          4. tmorris1 | | #21

            Bonkers;Seeing how quick you were with the jeans, I am probably too late with this post. Your dress pants will probably be made of a thinner fabric than the jeans. This can cause trouble with the pattern warping. Use tailors chalk and a measuring stick to mark both grainlines on your fabric (top to bottom, and side to side). This will help you keep the grainlines true on your new garment. As you make your pattern, check that the grainlines are at right angles to each other with a child's protractor, or a see through grid ruler. I have also mentioned starching your pattern piece, and pinning it down to help it keep its shape.

          5. bonkers | | #22

            Good advice about the starch. I haven`t started on the dress pants yet because the locol fabric store has no fabric to suit me.  I`m guessing you have used this method many times.  Where did you find the flexible ruler? The web sites that were shown in the Threads article about the rulers wwould not work on my computer. Had any one else found these rulers anywhere ? I would like to find a 40 inch one.

          6. tmorris1 | | #23

            Glad to hear that I was not too late. http://www.agreatnotion.com is sort of a one stop shop for everything notion, if they do not have the ruler at your local fabric store. It is a Canadian company, but they ship internationally.

          7. Josefly | | #24

            I got a flexible curve ruler, 40", at http://www.conselle.com/store/FittingTools/FittingTools.htmlIf this address doesn't work for you, go to http://www.conselle.com/ and type "flexible ruler" into the search button and go from there. When you first get to the home page you may think you're at the wrong place, since this is an image consultants firm. But they have fitting workshops, and a "store" with fitting tools.

          8. bonkers | | #25

            Thanks, I`m going to look at the  site right away. Bonks

          9. User avater
            Becky-book | | #32

            40" flex ruler, if you can't find one to buy...

            try ROMEX ... it is the heavy electrical wire that your house is wired with.  Home Depot or Lowes or pick up some scrap from a construction site, or ask an electrician friend, or... once you have a piece of it you could mark inch lines on one side.  It is flexible but will hold a curve long enough to move to another location and copy it!


          10. bonkers | | #33

            Becky, Would you believe both my daughter and her husband are commercial electricians? Thay probably have access to miles of Romex! I did buy a 20 inch ruler at Jo-Ann Fabrics. It was only 5.99 and I had a 40% off coupon. I am going to buy another one when the next coupons are issued this month. I did find a couple on-line but they wanted 35.00 for it plus shipping. Nancy Ziemans catalog was one place. I thought that was pretty expensive for something I won`t use all the time. Thanks for your suggestion. Bonkers

          11. mygaley | | #11

            Until two years ago I didn't even realize that masking tape came in different "tacky" weights. Some are meant to come off within 24 hours (I have never found a craft this is good for, but it is a pretty color), others are made to come off within 48 hours, etc. If your tape won't hold, read the label. I use the plain old tan kind for fabrics. Galey

          12. barb2cats | | #12

            Posted to the wrong thread - am trying to move the message to "flooring".

            Sorry for causing confusion.


            Edited 4/23/2007 6:59 pm ET by barb2cats

          13. Ralphetta | | #13

            About a week ago I started a thread about flooring.  One of the Sewists suggested that I could indeed use plywood over the carpeting in the room I was considering switching to.  It was interesting reading that, you to, had such good luck with it. 

          14. spicegirl | | #14

            Sorry, don't understand your post.  This thread is on pattern making for garments.

            I do think your post would be helpful to those viewing and discussing the thread for "flooring". 

          15. barb2cats | | #15

            Sorry, I must have posted to the wrong conference. Thank you for letting me know.


            >Spicegirl said:

            >Sorry, don't understand your post.  This thread is on pattern making for garments.

            >I do think your post would be helpful to those viewing and discussing the thread for >"flooring". 

    2. woggy | | #17


      Have you ever used this technique to make pleated pants or ones with darts?

      I tried it but can't figure out how to make the pleats and darts.

      And what about the grainline?  How do you make that?

      What I find annoying about some of these pants articles is that the author will chose a style that has no darts or pleats and a thin model.  Well, I have bumps and curves so sometimes I find the information useless because these problems aren't addressed.  Or if they are addressed, not enough info or direction on how to solve them.

      I have a pair of pants with pleats in the front, one dart in the back on eac side and elastic in the waistband at each side seam that continues towards the back.  These pants fit beautifully, no smiles under the butt, hang great, etc.  I would love to copy them and make the pleats into darts.  I tried to do it, but it did not turn out.

      Any suggestions would be appreciated.



      1. tmorris1 | | #18

        Woggy;If the garment that you wish to copy is in decent shape, you do not really need to go to all of the trouble of covering your garment pieces with masking tape before you remake your favorite pants. you can simply iron and starch the garment pieces, pin them to your new fabric, cut and sew. as far as darts and pleats, this is how I get around them...1) Open the dart or pleat and mark where the stitching line is before you iron the piece out. If your dart has been slashed, I cut along the stitch line to give myself a good guide, then work with the fabric and my iron until the grain lines on either side of the dart are equal. sandwich the dart between 2 pieces of fusible interfacing to help them hold their shape so that you can accurately copy the piece.2) Pleats are done in much the same way as darts, but you simply have to mark the fold and stitch lines in order to copy them.3) The grainline needs to be followed from the original garment. I have been known to use a see through protractor to note the angle of my grainlines, but for most pants you will be safe as long as the grainline runs perpendicular to the hem of the pants all the way up to the waistline. Check the weft and warp of your threads to get an idea of what yours does.4) It is important to keep the shape of your garment stable while you copy it. I starch the heck out of my garment pieces to keep them stable, or pin them right to my cutting surface (I have a cork board for this, but carpet holds well too)5) Make careful note of the seam allowances on your original garment. Many of us are so used to working with a 5/8 inch seam allowance that we just use that. You have to remember that as a garment is constructed, the seams are often trimmed, and adjustments have to be made in order to get the same fit.Hope this is helpful, if you have any other questions, please ask.Oh, PS you need to match the original fabric in weight and stretch also. If you are not careful about this, the fit will not be the same.

        Edited 4/24/2007 5:15 pm ET by tmorris1

        1. woggy | | #19

          tmorris1,Thanks so much for the directions but I still wear these pants and don't want to take them apart!Any chance you could share how I would do the darts and pleats with the tape method?Will print your post for future reference - love the idea of starch. Good one.Maybe I can find a good fitting pair of pants at the Goodwill store and not pay a whole lot for them.Woggy

          1. tmorris1 | | #20

            Woggy;I love to take things apart - find it very therapeutic - so this is the method that I am most used to. I find making patterns from fully constructed garments to be fiddly and time-consuming. You can get out your ruler and measure the locations size and length of your darts and pleats to copy them this way. There is a specialty ruler available (think that it costs around $25.00) it is called a flexible ruler. This thing will mold to any shape you wish and retain this shape so that you can copy it. Very good for copying exact crotch lines as it will allow you to copy the curve exactly. Maybe you could use this to alter a regular pants pattern so that they fit properly. If the crotch curve, is the same, you should get the same "no smile" fit that you have been looking for with little extra effort.

          2. LindaFaye | | #34

            Initially I was planning on doing the GoodWill thing too - buying a great fitting pair of pants and deconstructing them to make a pattern.  But I really did not want to take the time to undo the seams.  Although I still might do that one day, I'm glad I found this post!  I just read the article in Threads 120 about making the masking tape pattern this past Sunday.  I underlined and highlighted the steps to get a good understanding and think that this is a great idea.  I think I can do it but I still have a few questions about the technique that maybe someone here could help me with:

            1) my favorite pants all have zippers.  I can understand how to do this for a side or back zipper but I don't understand how to make the pattern for a front fly zipper without taking the zipper out and unfolding the fly when making the pattern.  I could do that with a pair of pants from GoodWill, but not my good pants. How do I tape for the zipper - or do I just free hand that in on the pattern paper?

            From what I could understand the article only told how to do the back of the pants and not the front - am I correct?

            2) do I tape right up to the waistband, and right up to the hem and then draw the size of the hem and waistband (say 3" for example) on the pattern paper - rather than taping the waistband area and the hem areas?

            3) last question, what width tape should I use?

            Thanks for any and all imput.


          3. tmorris1 | | #35

            Hi Linda;The idea is basically to make a masking tape pattern of each separate pattern piece (back, front, waistband, etc) so you will have to take the pants fully apart. I suggest that you take apart the fly to get an accurate copy of it, and this allows you to re-use the zipper. Use 2" tape to cover as much fabric as possible with the least effort. Use regular tan colored masking tape. Pay close attention to what the seam allowances are on the original garment as well as the fabric that was used (specially if it had a stretch in it).

          4. bonkers | | #36

            Hi LindaFaye, We are getting a lot of milage out of this discussion!!When I made the jeans I just made the front taped patten like a closed front and then added the fly front before I cut them out. Iused a fly front pattern from a jeans pattern I already had and just laid the fly portion along the front seam and cut it out by that shape. that worked out just right and I didn`t have to figure out how to tape the fly portion. I hope this is clear to you. Hard to describe without a picture! Good luck. Bonker

          5. suesew | | #37

            The whole point of copying garments this way is to do come up with a pattern wthout taking the garment apart. If you take the garment apart you can then simply copy it onto paper or fabric. Slashing, as well described above, where the original darts or pleats are will allow you to flatten the tape pattern and instantly give you the correct dart shape.
            In theory, if you wrapped your body a la dress form style, and then cut it in half and slashed darts into it to get it to lay flat, you would have created the pefect sloper for your body!

          6. User avater
            Becky-book | | #38

            Masking tape sloper!  

            I like that idea!!  When are you doing a class? Can I come?   LOL


          7. LindaFaye | | #39

            Thanks, I am still a little scared to try this, but I am still having a problem getting a proper fit from pants patterns.  I will get brave enough to try this and use an old sheet to make a trial pair of pants first.  Thanks again!

          8. Gloriasews | | #40

            Hi, Linda Faye!  Your blogspot looked very interesting, but, unfortunately, I found it very hard to read (so I gave up), as the green background is just too dark for my old eyes.  I admire your bravery, though, in putting it together, with good photos - good luck!

          9. LindaFaye | | #41

            Thanks, the blogspot is another new adventure.  I've been thinking about changing it though, I was just experimenting with the green color.  Maybe I'll change the dark lettering to white and that would make it easier to read.

          10. tmorris1 | | #42

            Linda;Love the blog. Just lighten the background color a bit to give more contrast. White lettering is just plain hurtful, no one is used to reading light lettering. Keep up the great work.T.

          11. Gloriasews | | #43

            No!  No white lettering!  I agree with TMorris - leave the printing black (easier to read than colours), but lighten up the background to maybe a nice light green or any light colour.  Hope you can do it, as I'd love to read your blog.  Good luck!

          12. LindaFaye | | #44

            Thanks, I will make those changes now.  Just learning how to use this thing - but it's a lot of fun for me.

  3. spicegirl | | #8

    Bonkers---fast work on the jeans.   I am going to put this hint on my favorites list.

    You asked about spell check.   Look at the bottom of the post you are typing before you click post.   Also, I have the Google tool bar which includes a spelling feature.

    1. bonkers | | #10

      Hi, I did find the spell check right after I made the inquiry! I have gotten so dependant on it in E-mail and Word that I have about forgotten how to spell! I finished the jeans so fast because I just couldn`t wait to see how they turned out. You know how it is when a project is working in the back of your mind. Bonkers.

  4. cloetzu | | #16

    I've done a search on 'masking tape pattern' and see a lot of discussion on it but can't figure out how to do it?  (and dont' have issue #120) Can someone explain? Is that basic idea to use masking tape to cover a piece of clothing (for example the collar), then rip off the tape and use it as your pattern piece? if so how do you deal with pieces that aren't flat? for exaple most shirts have darts for shaping thus won't be flat?

    1. bonkers | | #26

      Sorry Cloetzu, I just noticed no one has really answered your question about how to make the masking tape pattern. This is really hard to explain without pictures. The basic idea is to out line all the outside seams with strips of tape and then fill in horizonally with overlapping strips of tape. You then carefully remove the tape without disturding the shape and lay it on pattern making fabric or strong paper. I can`t properly explain this without a picture or waving my hands around!! Maybe you could find someone who can get a copy of the article at a library. That`s where I have to go to see old copies. I took the issue back that had the article in it.  I hope some one can help you. Bonkers

      1. cloetzu | | #27

        Thanks Bonkers!!  I think I understand that - I just can't figure out what you do on pieces that are not flat - for example the front of a blouse that may have darts for shaping?  From what I've read, I don't think the article even exaplains that very well?  any ideas?

        1. Josefly | | #28

          I think you have to mark on the tape where the dart seam is before you remove it from the garment, then when you take the tape away from the garment, cut on that line, so that you can get the curved piece to lay flat. It will open up and leave a wedge where the dart was. When you trace around this now-flat piece, the sides of the wedge will be the stitching lines for the dart. You will have to re-draw the outside seam line which intersects the dart (this is where we really need a picture - sorry) as well as a new fold-line for the dart, down the middle between the legs of the dart. If the dart is on the interior of the piece (that is, not intersecting a seam on the perimeter of the piece, like a vertical waist dart in a blouse or sheath dress, for example) when you cut on the dart seam line, it will open out into a pointed oblong shape. Before you cut the dart seam line, you may want to make marks through the seam line, so that after you cut, you'll have match-up points for the dart, as are often printed on commercial patterns (small circles). Is this at all clear?Someone please correct me if I've gone wrong here.

        2. tmorris1 | | #29

          Cloetzu;Did you get the email I sent you regarding this subject? Just wondering. Bonkers is correct, you have to take out the seams and darts in order to copy the garment, then transfer them to your newly made pattern piece.

          1. cloetzu | | #30


            Yes I just read it about 10 minutes ago.  THANKS!!!!

            I think I get it now - but I guess the best thing is to be wearing the garment when taping (if possible) so you can capture the 'shaping' - otherwise it will not work... I'll have to give it a try!

            Thank you to everyone for their input and advice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          2. tmorris1 | | #31

            Perhaps that would work, If you slash out the darts on the tape pattern after. Whatever happens, the final tape pattern will have to be flat (like the fabric you are working on.) If you slash out the darts and push the tape flat, then the void left in the tape should be be the amount of material you would have to take up in order to match the original dart. I sent you another email with a different suggestion, maybe consider that one.

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