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Pattern Alteration from Existing Garment

WandaJ | Posted in Fitting on

With 3089 (+ or -) messages in the fit section of this site, I cannot imagine people not having discussed measuring a good fitting garment prior to making a new one, i.e., for pattern alterations, etc.

I have a well-fitting jacket that I made and is (to the unknown) a Chanel knock-off that I want to make it in another fabric. So, what I did was measure everywhere possible on the existing jacket and plan to use these measurements for my new pattern (no it’s not the same one [pattern, i.e.,] as the first, as that one got lost when moving, or is in-storage).

What I’m looking for is tips, or notes from other’s experiences doing this type of pattern alteration. Oh, I did not include seam, or hem measurements when measuring the garment, but made a note that they needed to be added to the new pattern’s measurements.

When measuring and recording, I found that there was a sense of excitement about approaching pattern alterations from this method versus actual body measurements.  It certainly helped with the visualization of the made-up garment, and hope for a more accurate fit. Has anyone experienced this sense of excitement, which too lead to a sense of security about embarking on the project?

Thanks for directing me to the appropriate discussion, or for the new information, including good books about this subject.


Edited 2/14/2007 8:20 pm ET by WandaJ

Edited 2/14/2007 8:21 pm ET by WandaJ


  1. Teaf5 | | #1

    Have you tried using a search on all those thousands of posts?  "Copying a garment" will probably net you what you are looking for.

    My personal favorite is to use waxed paper and straight pins to copy a garment.  Measurements are numbers, and numbers often get jumbled up and senseless to me, while lines and shapes seem to fit the sewing process nicely.

  2. Cherrypops | | #2


    This book may help: Read the reviews on amazon  you may be lucky to pick up a copy there or on Ebay.

    "Patterns from finished clothes: Re-creating the clothes you love (paperback) by Tracy Doyle.

    1. WandaJ | | #3

      Thank you both for the input. I have seen the book quite sometime ago, unfortunately for me at the time I had no interest in this method. The wax paper method sounds interesting but I don't know how accurate I would be, particularly, with the side panels, back, and sleeves of the garment as it is quite bulky (i.e. the one I would copy from).

      I have used several terms to search this site, and in the area of fitting and have not come up with anything as of yet. For reference I too am using an older Threads article authored by Susan Lazear titled, "To Fit Your Body, Measure Your Clothes." This article was found in the Jan. 2005, No. 116 edition of the magazine. It too has an accompanying online measurement chart you can download and print that extracts information from 'My Favorite Clothes,' and it too is in the magazine for reproduction.

      Should someone be able to direct me to this particular discussion, again I would be most appreciative; however, I'm now confident enough, with the help of people's experiences on this site, to forge ahead with this venture.

      Thanks again to all who so freely share their wealth of knowledge and talent through this discussion group.

  3. SewNancy | | #4

    I do a lot of style altering on patterns to get what I want starting with a pattern that fits if of course key. I know that I have certain fitting issues that need to be addressed first. I either pin, or tape in the case of patterns without sas. I actually prefer this latter method as I don't get pin scrapes! I start with the shoulders and work my way down. I have a DD cup and always choose my size by upper bust measurement. Then I do a foward shoulder adjustment, narrow that shoulder, then I move down to moving down the bust shaping so that my apex matches the widest part of the pattern. Then I do my fba. enlarge the hips by the difference between the shoulder size and what my hip is.
    Then I finally try it on. I also do a straight back adjustment. After all that, I do my style altering. It sounds like a daunting list, but after all this time it only takes me maybe 15 minutes to do these adjustments. Then I try on the pattern. If I am unsure of the fit, or if it is a radical change in design or very expesive material, I will make a muslin. It works. I don't have to do a lot of ripping on the final, expesive fabric and the sewing is just so much more pleasurable when the fit is worked out ahead of time.

    1. WandaJ | | #5

      Thanks for sharing your method. As of now I don't know how long it will take for me to make all of my adjustments in just 15 minutes. As one that is seriously trying to learn how to make the appropriate adjustments in order to achieve a desirable fit, I don't mind doing all of the measuring and calculating (i.e., for now). As I believe what turns would be sewers off is an inability to have their well-sewn garments not fit well. That's a sad feeling.

      1. SewNancy | | #6

        I was just saying to my friend today that I am really enjoying my sewing these days and doing more of it because I am not struggling with fit anymore. Having a good sewing library is a big help. I reccomend as do many others, the you purchase Fit for Real People by Palmer Pletsch. Unfortunately as good as that book is, I have found the need for other references as well. Nancy Zieman's book Fitting Finesse, and Sandra Betzina's book Fast Fit as well as some pants fitting articles in Threads have all contributed to my fitting success. I also suggest that you take a look at Patternreview.com where many people have posted pictures of their fitting problems and gotten terrific help and input
        Good luck to you and post some pictures with your results.

        1. WandaJ | | #7

          Thanks for the information you provided. I noticed the first issue of Sew Stylish has an article on fitting from existing garments. Haven't had a chance to read it yet.

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