A squillion years ago I studied Fashion Design at University. I quickly learnt that I wasn't a very good designer, but found the that more practical parts of the course, garment construction and pattern cutting, really floated my metaphorical boat. The lecture I still remember as being the most interesting was an 'extra' (not part of the syllabus) taught by a lovely pattern cutting tutor called Karen. She showed us how to take a pattern from a pair of trousers or jeans that fitted us well. This blew my mind at the time, and I've been fascinated by this subject and the challenges involved ever since.
(image source: Tilly and the Buttons)
On and off, I've been using existing garments to make sewing patterns ever since, whether to try to accurately copy the original, or to use it as a way to get closer to the style I'm aiming for than if I started cutting with basic pattern blocks. Then when Tilly suggested we run a workshop at her HQ/studio around the subject of copying existing garments, I did masses of research to really hone the techniques into a process I could break down and teach to others.
Coincidentally, around the time that Tilly and I started discussing the workshops, my best friend Vic asked me to copy her beloved spotty Peter Pan collared T-shirt (pictured above). For the first four or five Copy Your Clothes workshops, I actually used her T-shirt in the demo part of the workshop, which gave me the kick up the bum to actually get on with the task (sorry it took so long, Vic!).
With the pattern finally complete, I then made a copy in a lovely soft teal interlock that had been lurking in my stash (sorry for the pics, it's one of those colours that my camera can't deal with accurately! The picture at the top of this post is the most like the colour in real life). This fabric doesn't have exactly the same properties as the original jersey, but it's close enough and Vic says the fit of the copy is great (phew!). Here she is rocking her new/reproduced top:
You may notice that the copy isn't exactly the same at the original: the keyhole detail has been constructed differently and is an oval rather than teardrop shape. Plus the sleeves have bands rather than binding at the hem. This is because I had to adapt the construction process to suit the machinery I have at home, I (lamentably) do not have access to an industrial binding machine. And this is one of the points I make in the class: you may not be able to make an exact replica of your original garment, particularly if it's been mass-produced, but you can get a damn good approximation (or even improvement!) that you will love just as much!
The Copy Your Clothes workshops at Tilly's have been really popular, with each one selling out not long after it's been scheduled. If you are interested in taking the class, currently there are two scheduled for 9th May (10am - 2pm) and 30th May (2pm - 6pm).