Last fall a friend of ours (well, she's a friend of my sisters-- details, details) asked me if I would consider trying to reproduce her favourite piece of clothing. She had looked everywhere for a replacement and contacted the original manufacturers who told her they wouldn't be making it any more. Feeling a little cocky, I said SURE! what the heck, sight unseen, I'll give it a go. When it arrived all the way from the Northwest Territories I had a minor little freak out wondering how I was going to pull it off. First off, I could understand why she loved it-- It is AWESOME. It's made out of a heavy duty stretchy knit with a sweatshirt fleece feel on the inside, a sweet funnel collar, a fitted bust and shoulder, and an asymmetrical placket. It was warm. It was cute. Love Love Love. Freak Out Freak Out Freak Out.
I spent a lot of time thinking about it and consulting with some of my people. Blair suggested I make a ruboff to start and then I found some heavy, stretchy knit at Bolt (98% cotton, 2% spandex). I procrastinated a good amount. I scoured the internets trying to find one like it so I could point Joanne in the right direction and send hers back. Then, on Saturday, I pulled my head out and worked it out.
I started by following Blair's advice and made a ruboff of the front, back and collar using a pastel and a roll of the boy's paper. I worked really well. Then I busted out a copy of Cal Patch's Design-It-Yourself-Clothes that Amy had lent me, and read most of Part 1 (Before you Begin) and all of Part 3 (Customizing, Fitting and Grading). I already own Patternmaking for Fashion Design (which I got for a class last year)-- it's fantastic but massive and overwhelming. This book covers pattern making for simple and modern clothes in a very accessible way. It also doesn't skimp out on doing things properly (which is GREAT).
Feeling buoyed by proper information I took the pastel and paper to proper pattern pieces-- all slash and spread and evened out. And it worked. Mostly. The way I put it together (sleeves sewn to the front and back and then the side seams sewn last) made it so I had to finish the whole thing before I could tell if I had headed in the right direction. But whatever. It's pretty close.
If she likes it, I'll make whatever changes she'd like and make her another one. And then one for me (I'm thinking I'll add some buttons to the placket and work on the sleeves more for the next round). I might even get really full of myself and grade that sucker out and make one for Mariko. Like I said, there's no telling what a little extra sleep will help me accomplish. Also, keep in mind, you can sew like this without a serger. I did.
Incidentally, in the back of Do-It-Yourself, Cal Patch mentions three sewing books that I love and frequently recommend: The best of the best-- Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing (often you can find earlier versions at thrift stores and garage sales), then there's my girl Amy's Bend the Rules Sewing, and of course, both of Wendy Mullen's SewU books (and did you hear there is another coming??!!). Do you have other favourites? JUST IN CASE one of your plans for this year including sewing yourself a whole closet full of greatness.