A rub off and the deeply unflattering results!

11:43 am

rub off 2

When I have a piece of ready to wear or vintage clothing in my wardrobe that I love, and wear and wear again, I often copy it. Sometimes I take apart the original piece of clothing and trace each piece, and sometimes I trace the item without taking it apart. Both of these methods are often called a "rub off" or "rubbing off", which sounds vaguely rude so I've not been brave enough to google it!

vintage top

I've had this vintage top for a while, you can see the dark patches where my arms have rubbed against my boobs and worn the fabric thin. I admit this top is not particularly flattering, especially recently because I've gained a lot of weight, but I still love it. I call it my "Weekend Doris" look because my husband has frequently found me doing housework in heels and a pinny during the week, sighed and said "Oh dear you are having a Doris Day moment again", so at the weekend when I dress down a little, either in a comfy dress or cigarrette pants and a top, I like to think I'm having a weekend Doris moment! (And now you all know way too much about the general state of my mind!)

Always hopeful I will magically lose weight, I decided to rub off this top and that way I'd have a pattern for it should I want to make more in the future.

I started by laying several flannel sheets folded to make a good firm pad on my dining table. I then lay swedish tracing paper over the sheets, and the pressed top over that. Carefully smoothing out the sleeve so that the underarm seam was flat I pinned the sleeve to the pad and then traced around it.

rub off 1

Removing the pins and the top, I then trued up all the lines using my ruler, and labelled my pattern piece.

 rub off 3

rub off 4

I then repeated this same procedure for the front and back, only tracing half . I traced the front neckline onto the same tracing.

rub off 5

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I cut out my pattern pieces and made sure they matched up.

rub off 7

I then used these tracings to make the pattern pieces, adding seam allowance and labels to each piece, including grain lines, and direction of stretch.

rub off 9

rub off 10

Finally I had a sleeve, a front and a back pattern piece.
The vintage top has limited stretch and a very high neck, so like several other vintage tops/sweaters I own it has a zip at the back neck, and the neck is bound with bias binding. I really like this little vintage feature, so used it again on the first top I made from this pattern. Also binding the hem using home made bias binding.

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Looks good on the hanger....really not so much on me!!

rub off 2a

Undeterred and enjoying the process I made another....

rub off 3a

....and a dress....

dress 2

...hmmm yes!!

That high neckline and lack of shaping in the waist on my curves is an absolute no no! Despite that though, I am wearing the dress today, it's a comfy sunday dress that I can layer under scarves and cardigans, so not a total disaster. I don't feel very Doris in it though, such a shame.

I'm not dissapointed though in my weeks work, I've enjoyed playing with this design, and I think with a few tweeks and a bit of re drafting, I might yet come up with my perfect "Weekend Doris" sweater top or dress.

Do you have a weekend look? I'd love to hear from you if you do, or even if you don't. Oh, and if you want to see my weekend Doris inspiration board on Pinterest just click here.

Don't be shy, say hello!


  1. Anonymous6:06 pm

    You've done a great job! I haven't tried this method yet. I normally wear something stretchy in the weekends - leggings and a tunic or wide leg trousers and a Renfrew top.

    1. Thanks Sarah, not quite right yet,but I'm ok with the interpretations so far.

  2. You might think it's unflattering, but I like all of them and especially the red and gray one. You did a good job of copying the pattern!!!

  3. Thanks for showing this, I haven't had a go yet. I thought rubbed off meant the same as knocked off!! I'm afraid I often wear mt jammies at the weekend! This may be the result of living alone now, so no Dories look for me, though she did have some mighty fine jammies. Did you enter for the great British sewing bee, you should, you have the range of skills and I'm sure you could also do the time limits.

    1. Hi Mags, well a rub off is a method used in certain factories to copy designer stuff, so sometimes is a knock off! I guess this is too really, but it's a good way of re making a style you like and can't get hold of anymore.
      As for the Sewing Bee, yeah I was encouraged to apply the first year, but was too chicken, then applied after the first series, but didn't get anywhere which I think actually I was relieved about. I can't imagine sewing under so much pressure with a camera pointing at me, it must be awful. I'm sure I'd cry from nerves!

  4. I love the styling! And it's fun to know where the Doris Weekend dress came from ;-)

  5. Ahhh, I've been admiring your several versions of Weekend Doris and didn't realise it was self-drafted and traced from an existing fave piece of clothing! I have never heard of 'rubbing off' (it does sound rude!) but that's what I did last weekend too. It was really interesting to read about your process which was far more scientific and precise than mine I just lay down my fave stretchy Primark top, folded it in half, and traced round it roughly. I'll be using some of your methodology next time! I actually love all the versions you have made. Sometimes a garment might not feel flattering but it's just so comfy that it doesn't matter if it complements our curves...especially if it's just for wearing in the house and round family eh!


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