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Tips & Techniques > Making a ruboff/ copy pattern of garment

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Posted by: Georgene

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Member since: 10/5/02
Reviews: 110 (tips: 9)
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Posted on: 1/2/03 4:38 PM
Review Rating: Helpful by 16 people   Needs More Info by 1 people   Very Helpful by 77 people   
Making a ruboff is a good way to take the pattern from a ready to wear garment without unstitching a thing.

First you have to establish a grainline, (too bad not everything's a plaid, then it would be easy) both horizontal and vertical. I do this by pinning a row of pins along the center of the particular panel I'm working on, and then extrapolating the horizontal grain by peering closely and guessing a lot.

Hint: to pin more securely, put the pin thru the fabric twice, take 2 bites, so it looks like 2 dashes. Pins are less likely to fall out this way.

Then you have to mark (in pencil) the exact same grainlines on your chunk of muslin thats approximately the same size as what you are rubbing off. (If you work with a piece that's too big it can hamper you.)

Pin the muslin along the garment on the marked grainlines

Then smooth and pin your muslin out to the seam lines.

If you have a dart or ease, smooth and pin below that spot, and then upwards around it. The width of the dart will emerge, and then you can pin the dart closed on your muslin. Similarly for sleeve caps you can find that 1/2'' of ease to pinch out front and back, or how much gathers are there and then smooth and pin to find your armhole.

To do a sleeve properly, you need something to put inside it. A rolled up towel will do, or a sleeve board possibly.

A lot of people use tailors chalk at this point and just rub it along the seamlines to mark the seams. That's why it's called a ruboff. I prefer to use a pencil myself, as it's much easier to control your markings and get subtle differences of shape. You can get buttonhole placements, all the details of your original this way.

Afterwards, unpin and lay flat. Use a ruler and curve to "true up" your lines.

Add seam allowances and use directly as a pattern, or use your tracing wheel and transfer to paper if you want to fool around with it some more.

The nice thing about ruboffs on muslin is being able to baste or pin it together and try it on. Also you can have enormous allowances and add for alterations in advance, or at least have the extra in there to be able to adjust.

I usually add my needed adjustments on to the pattern at this stage. I also sometimes end up needing just a wee bit more fabric, so I pin or tape on additonal bits of muslin as needed.

I keep my rub-off patterns in big manila envelopes with a quick drawing or description to remind me of what it is.

You can use parts of various ruboffs to create entirely new garments. You can also pin them together and work on a dressmaker's form to adjust the fit or style.

If you do this often enough, it's a good idea to buy an entire bolt of muslin, then the price comes down enormously and you loose the fear of 'wasting' fabric. Actually you can use anything to make a ruboff, but muslin is good as you can see your markings easily and its cheap. It even works for stretch garments, you just can't try them on afterwards.

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Vatsla said... (1/22/13 10:40 PM) Reply
Thanks Georgene!This is an excellent article.. all of it makes sense! I am going to try this out tomorrow. I am confused about this sentence about rubbing off the sleeve... Can anyone explain this to me? "Similarly for sleeve caps you can find that 1/2'' of ease to pinch out front and back, or how much gathers are there and then smooth and pin to find your armhole."
Sarucha said... (9/15/12 9:21 PM) Reply
This was great! I can do this with dolly clothing!
Gloria M said... (3/5/12 2:22 PM) Reply
Thank you for this very helpful article. Love the dart explaination.
surfina1 said... (9/6/11 7:46 PM) Reply
have not tried this yet, but definately going to. thanks so much
Gloria Teasdale said... (7/29/11 2:33 PM) Reply
I wish I had read this earlier. I've spent the whole day trying to copy a gathered and twisted sleeve- and failed. Tomorrow I'll buy muslin and THANK YOU for that tip :-)
red74 said... (3/22/11 6:08 PM) Reply
how to make a rub-off for pants esp. in the crotch area
Sarucha said... (11/9/10 7:13 PM) Reply
That's a good idea to make doll clothes with.
lasiqueboutique said... (2/4/10 5:10 PM) Reply
You could take a photo of yourself in the Ready to Wear for your manila envelope. Thanks for sharing.
calipepla said... (11/1/09 0:10 AM) Reply
The information is indeed very helpful, but I need photos to understand some of what you are trying to explain.
humbug said... (9/1/09 9:09 PM) Reply
This sounds great. I'll be trying it for sure. Thanks.
carole said... (6/26/09 5:48 AM) Reply
Tthank you for the time you took to help others . It is greatly appreciated. Carole
EmKay said... (1/12/09 4:40 AM) Reply
It would be great if you could post photos of doing this so we visually-oriented folks could "see" how this is done! Otherwise, this is a great article on using existing garments to make patterns.
Birgitte said... (11/1/08 9:58 PM) Reply
Really well-written instructions, thank you.
Karendee said... (8/21/08 1:26 PM) Reply
This is a very clear process, now. Thanks for your help.
appleton78 said... (6/15/08 12:47 PM) Reply
Thank you for the GREAT info. I am just beginning to try this...You are a lifesaver!!
J-Girl said... (11/20/07 6:39 PM) Reply
Thank you! I read a couple techniques in recent magazines, but couldn't figure out how to handle the darts! Now I have a solution. Awesome.
Pfaff2 said... (11/7/07 11:32 AM) Reply
Wonderful! I needed this!
Lisa76 said... (7/26/07 2:29 AM) Reply
I'm a beginner and i was wondering is there any chance you can demonstrate this with visual pics. It would be really appreciated. Thanks
quiltinbysea said... (4/23/07 4:04 PM) Reply
Very clear instructions, cant wait to try this out.
Pegh said... (8/19/06 12:12 PM) Reply
Margaret H. 8/20/06 Excellent instructions. Many thanks.
Sew'n'go said... (8/18/06 9:35 AM) Reply
Excellent description of the steps involved, Georgene. I realize this is an old tip, and I'm thrilled someone highlighted it so I could find it. Tory
boogaloo said... (6/11/06 10:17 AM) Reply
I spent far too long on line yesterday looking for instructions on how to do this! Finally, I found the right combination of words to search for. I haven't done it yet, but your instructions are completely understandable, and I can tell they will work because I can visualize teh process from reading them. I've copied them to my computer, and I'll probably do it today. Thank you so much for sharing this precious secret!
lindamay said... (8/2/05 1:12 PM) Reply
I loved the idea of the 'rub off' onto the muslin, this is a great idea for picking up all the nuances of the original garment, that might be forgotten otherwise.
wheetwert said... (1/15/05 9:05 PM) Reply
Thank you for this start on my project. My favorite top has a cowl ncek and turn back attached sleeves. I"ll neeed more help.
Georgene said... (8/25/04 9:49 AM) Reply
Barbieiam, using tracing paper just doesn't cut the mustard. Paper will not give you the subtleties of shape that cloth on cloth will. Break down and buy some muslin and try it out, muslin is cheaper than tracing paper usually!
barbieiam said... (8/25/04 3:41 AM) Reply
one thing more,please, how can I do the same thing(step by step please) with tracing? it? help
barbieiam said... (8/25/04 3:38 AM) Reply
where have you been all my life.?????thankyou , thankyou [email protected]
bpetermann said... (6/17/04 12:24 PM) Reply
I just used this technique to reproduce a fishing hat. I used a cut-up Tyvek envelope instead of muslin, and a crayon instead of a pencil. It worked great!
LYNN said... (5/22/04 5:16 AM) Reply
understood the instruction clearly, nice job.
Jacquie said... (7/30/03 11:19 PM) Reply
Great article! Well written and easy to follow! Jacquie
Bobbie Johnson said... (2/4/03 2:17 AM) Reply
This is a very well written description. I had seen this demonstrated, but missed the dart technique. This was very helpful to me. It seems to me she used a tailors ham under the darts?? Or did I dream that. Anyway thanks
Amanda L said... (1/4/03 10:18 AM) Reply
This is the best explanation I've seen of how to do this. I didn't get it about how to do the sleeves or darts until now. Thanks Georgene!
Loreli said... (1/4/03 5:40 AM) Reply
I have read about this in a Singer book that I have and tried it out by rubbing a soft pencil over the seamlines after the muslin is pinned on the part and it work very well. The pattern were very near to the ready to wear garment from witch I rubbed it off.
Georgene said... (1/2/03 6:57 PM) Reply
Yes the 'ruboff' is the technique of using muslin to reproduce the pattern used for a finished garment. There are other methods to make a pattern from finished clothing, such as using measurements taken to draft a pattern, or unstitching and tracing around the pattern pieces.
Deepika said... (1/2/03 6:48 PM) Reply
Georgene, this is a very helpful tip and I am assuming "ruboff" means "making a pattern from finished clothes". Am I right?
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