How to recreate your favourite dress

Recently, I was commissioned to remake a favourite dress for a customer. She passed over the original dress and chose all the fabric and lining that she wanted.

I set to work with my pattern making tools and thought that while I was at it, I could document what I did in case any of you fancied trying it.

1. Gather all your tools. My resources consisted of; newspaper, pattern weights, a pen / pencil, my cutting board, rulers (I also used my french curve in places), tracing wheel and the original dress / garment.

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2. Sellotape some of your newspaper sheets together until they are big enough to fit your dress on. (You just need to be able to fit where you can see the seam lines.)

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3. Lay out your garment on top of the newspaper, with your cutting mat right at the base. I find it easier to use pattern weights to hold down the dress, but you could use pins so long as you put them well inside where the outlines of each piece will be.
4. Make sure that the current piece you are working on is lying completely flat. You can move each piece around as you work on it.

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5. Use your tracing wheel to go around the outline of each piece, one at a time. This means going around where the seams are, making sure the pieces are lying flat and that you are pushing your tracing wheel in a continuous line.

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6. After going around each piece, move the garment out of the way and look for the perforated lines, which should have been left so long as your wheel has gone through the fabric and the paper. (If you click on the image you can see the dots more clearly). If you are doing this on thicker fabric, then try to move the seam allowance out of the way when you are tracing so that your wheel can go through the thinnest layers possible.

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7. Go over this line in pen so you can see it more clearly.
8. Now using your curved and straight rulers, draw another outline 1cm outside of your original line. This will allow for a 1cm seam allowance and using the rulers will give a smoother line to your final garment.

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9. Note down which piece you have traced and the seam allowance you will be using.

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10. Continue until you have traced off all pieces.

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11. Look carefully at how the dress is constructed and come up with an order to sew them together.

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12. Sew your lining pieces together first. Usually this fabric is cheaper, which means you can test out the fit and the order of construction before you sew the final fabric.

autumn lining

13. And finally, sew together your outer garment and finish in the order you determined.

The original dress

The original dress

Copy 1

Copy 1

Copy 2

Copy 2

An alternative to the sharp tracing wheel, is to use a smooth tracing wheel (this one has the benefit of 2 wheels, which can be set up to mark the seam allowance at the same time) with a layer of carbon tracing paper sandwiched between your garment and the paper underneath. This will draw your outline fairly in colour, which you can then go over in pen, or cut straight out.

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I hope this helps someone. Let me know if you make anything using this method. I’d love to see what you do!

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2 thoughts on “How to recreate your favourite dress

  1. This is such a great tutorial! Thank you taking the time to do it. I’ve been wanting to make a copy of a pair of pyjama bottoms, and really didn’t know where to start with it. I’ll have to give it a go, because you make it look so easy! I love the two dresses you’ve made, the fabric on copy 1 is gorgeous. I hope their new owner loves them.

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