Monday, 2 April 2018

Competed: RTW T-Shirt Copy

Doing a rub off of a RTW garment is something I've been meaning to have a go at for a while, but never quite got round to. As I said previously, my recent makes have all been pretty practical, and this is no different. I just need all the long sleeved things right now, preferably to layer on top of each other and wear all at once.

I have a bit of an obsession with Boden's long sleeve Breton tees, and currently own 3. It's the stripes but also the shape I love, particularly the neckline and if Boden did this shape in solid colourways, I'd buy even more, but they don't. No problemo. I can make one.

I kind of used a hybrid of tutorials, mixed with intuition to come up with a method. Using my ironing board as a base, I lay out the top, put paper on top, then used a pin to trace the edges by punching holes in the paper. Using a pencil, I then joined up the pin holes to get the outline, truing up the pattern pieces as I went.

It more or less worked, although in hindsight I'd change a few things. The SA on the original garment, which I stuck with, was pretty small at about 1/2cm. I found this difficult to sew - my machine has a tendency to chew up small seams - so would increase the SA next time. I suspect I should have used the pins to trace the seam line and then add the whatever SA I needed. I also didn't true up the pattern edges as well as I should have, which became apparent when putting the pieces together, but I just trimmed the pieces to fit and it doesn't appear to have caused any problems.

The fit seems a bit snugger than the original, but that might be down to the SA issue, plus possibly the fabric. The original tee is 100% cotton, so it probably stretches out slightly with wear. The fabric I used is a mystery content knit in black neon slubs. I bought it a couple of years ago from The Sweet Mercerie. I suspect it's a cotton/polyester mix, with some elastane.

Construction was straightforward. Originally I was going to just fold the neckline under, but I opted to take inspiration from the original, which has an internally bound neckline. I did this first, then sewed shoulder seams, armscye and lastly the sleeve and side seams in a oner. The original tee has a little bound split side seam at the bottom, but I didn't bother with that.

I'm not sure there is much more to say. I'm really happy with how this worked out and the top is getting plenty of wear (under jumpers). I will tweak the pattern a bit, increase the SA and then will definitely make more. I'll still buy the Boden striped versions, because I like them, but it's always nice to have options!

Have you ever done a RTW "rub off"? I'm keen to find out other people's experiences and to know if you have any tips.


  1. Hi love! I teach this and we use this very fine stuff like vilene. You can sort of see through it but you can really FEEL through it and mark the key points with pen (ballpoint is best) and then you go back and measure the heck out of the garment and double check that it is the same, because the biggest issue with rubbing off is getting the shape wrong, so it is skewed. Knit are a trick because of the stretch factor of course!

    1. Oh, that's interesting! I have some interfacing that someone gave me that's really too thick for dressmaking, but maybe I could use it for for this type of thing. I should have thought to measure it and double check it, because it's SO easy to pull knits out of shape. Truing up the side and shoulder seams proved that!

    2. The stuff we get hasn't got a name but it is very likw frost cloth, which you can get at a garden centre and is super cheap. It needs to be fine so you can feel the seams through it with your fingers. Stiffer vilene would be useful for making templates and small pattern pieces like collars and cuffs, so you could put it to good use elsewhere :)

  2. This is fab! Such a great versatile top.

  3. Looks great. Years ago I did this with a tank. Literally folded it in half, traced it onto paper and added SA. Was too unexperienced to be worried about finesse and it worked out great! I think knits are very forgiving this way.

  4. I loved reading about your process to making this top! Nice top too :) I'm taking a pattern designing course with Alexandra Morgan starting next Monday evening here in Victoria BC Canada (she has some youtube videos online too that are excellent) and I'm hoping to pick up some ideas from her on doing exactly this. At first I thought it was crazy to sign up for a pattern making class when I already own SO many patterns! but someone mentioned to me that it's useful to have pattern making basics down pat to understand how to manipulate patterns as well or in this case how to copy from a RTW that you like and fits you.

  5. I am so enjoying all your practical makes Helen! I love seeing things that are going to be worn so much, it inspires me to keep sewing my own practical makes. Your top looks great, I can see why you like the neckline so much.


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