I like to find a basic tee that fits my kids well. As they outgrow it I simply buy another one. Then I keep that tee with my sewing supplies to draft any pattern I want with. To start the drafting turn the top inside out and smooth it out.
A key thing to remember is if you are drafting from a tee shirt, they stretch, so if you are making a pattern for a top without stretch you may want to draft the pattern using a top without stretch, or include more ease since typically a tee shirt has “negative ease” meaning it is stretched to fit. Most woven tops have anywhere from 1-3″ of ease depending on the style.
Tuck the sleeve of the shirt inside the top. Make sure the sleeve seam is fully exposed, since this will mark your seam allowance.
Next fold the top down the middle. I do this so the pattern is drafted on the fold and that way your bodice will be even on both sides.
Then Line the fold up along the edge of the paper. (that way you get a nice straight edge) Then with all the seams exposed and laying flat trace around the edge. (you may want to add a little room for seam allowance however since the seam is exposed you will have some seam allowance already)
You also want to be sure and add extra length where you will hem, like the bottom of the top.
There you have a bodice piece ready to cut out on a fold. You will note that a back neckline is higher than a front neckline so you will want to trace those off to have a front and back.
Let’s move on to the sleeve. There are a million different ways to make a sleeve and there are a million different sleeves. We will go over more sleeve types later but to I am just going to show you how you trace a sleeve. Line up the fold of the sleeve (at the shoulder) and the edge of the paper. Then trace the edge of the sleeve (add a little length for hemming)
Then flip the shirt over so it is covering the sleeve and so the sleeve seam is exposed. then trace the curve of the seam.
There you have a sleeve pattern piece. The top curve of the sleeve should be the same measurement of the arm curve, if you want to check that your sleeve was traced right. Cut on the fold just as you would the bodice piece. There you have the basic top drafted from a top you already own.
Next let’s move on to the ever tricky pant. No need to be afraid of the pant it is just as easy as a top with just a few more key things to remember. Start the same way turning the pants inside out so the seams are exposed. Then with either the front or back showing (you will do them separately) Line up the straight edge of the jeans with the edge of the paper. Then you will trace the seams. Make sure they are all laying flat and exposed.
Also add a seam allowance as you go. Do the same thing once for the back and once for the front.
There are a couple key things to realize with pants. The back will always have a larger curve and rise from the back curve. This is so the back can go over the rear. You will also notice that the front curves up from the rise and the back curves down from the rise. Why? This is so the back of the pants are higher than the front. (as they should be) There you have it very basic pants and top drafting.
We will be covering other drafting techniques as the series continues, but this covered the basics.