Completed: RTW Pants Knockoff

I made pants!  Without a pattern!  And, I like them!

One of my sewing goals for this year was to copy a pair of RTW pants.  These are the source pants I decided to use:

RTW Pants Copy

They are a linen/cotton blend that I bought at the Gap probably 5 years ago (maybe longer).  I’ve always really liked them, they are cool and have a nice loose, comfy fit.  Unfortunately, over the years they have shrunk considerably in length, and have become too short to wear without ridicule.  So I set out to copy them.


A few months ago I took a class at a local college that covered how to copy RTW clothing.  It was a short class (just 3 Saturdays) but we learned the basics of how to copy shirts and pants.  I also purchased the Jean-ius course on Craftsy – and finally watched it.  (Does anyone else buy Craftsy classes, and then never watch them?) In the end, I did a mash up of the two methods I learned.

I made a couple of changes from the original.  I changed the shape of the front pockets, and added a front tab.  I also lengthened them and added a touch more width through the hips.
RTW Pants Copy
RTW Pants Copy

Since I was working without a pattern, I pulled out the instructions from my Thurlow trouser pattern, and roughly followed that.  This worked since my pants are actually pretty similar to the Thurlows.  (If you were copying jeans, the Jean-ius course does cover construction.)

The two main challenges I faced were drafting the waistband and figuring out how to sew the back welt pockets.  For the waistband, I determined I needed to draft a contour band.  How I finally figured out how to do it is a bit of a blur now.  I know I drafted several versions, poured over sewing books and blogs, and spend a lot of time pinching and pinning my muslin.  What I came up with works, but I’m sorry I can’t really tell you how I did it.  😦

The second challenge was the back pockets.  I wanted to make single welt pockets.  (The Thurlow instructions didn’t help because the Thurlows have double welts.)  I found my sewing books incomplete, but then I stumbled upon this great tutorial.


I’m pleased with how they turned out.

RTW Pants Copy

The fabric I used is Robert Kaufman cotton/linen denim.  I really like it, so much that I’ve already ordered more!


But my favorite thing about these lies inside . . . check out the surfing ninja!
RTW Pants Copy

I bought this Japanese fabric in Hawaii a couple years ago and I just love it.  I lined the pockets and interior waistband with it.
RTW Pants Copy
RTW Pants Copy

RTW Pants Copy
RTW Pants Copy

Anyway, I’m pretty excited about these.  Although it was a lot of work to do the copy, I think it was easier than trying to fit a pattern.  I didn’t mess with the crotch seam at all, which was a welcome relief after the muslin madness that ensued when I made my Thurlows.

I’m really liking the option of copying RTW garments.  Last month, during Me-Made-May I copied one of my favorite t-shirts, and made 2 new tops from that.  I’ve got a sheath dress that I wear all the time that I think will be next.  How about you, do you ever copy RTW items?
RTW Pants Copy


23 thoughts on “Completed: RTW Pants Knockoff

  1. The pants look great! I only did my first RTW copies a couple of weeks ago (a top and a pair of shorts), but I’m planning on copying a pair of RTW jeans. Did you cut the pants apart, or did you figure out the fit without doing that? I find that the crotch seams are a bit tricky to get right. But copying sure saves you a lot of fitting time! Good job! Yet another skill mastered 🙂

      • I’ve never heard of the rub-off method?! Once I saw a tutorial where they used tape: You attach strips of tape so that it covers every separate piece of the garment, and then pull it off and use it as a pattern piece. Didn’t seem like a convenient method to me though, so I never tried it.

  2. These are great pants!!!! What a beautiful fit you achieved. I think you are on to something…. why not use RTW clothes with a great fit as a pattern?! I bought two Craftsy courses ( including Jeanius) that I have yet to view!

  3. Ooh, they look so good!!!! I’m impressed at your follow-through, because this is the sort of projectI’d plan for years and never actually do. Well done!

  4. Love these pants! I took a class on copying RTW probably 15 years ago – so long ago that I’ve forgotten everything I learned! At this point though, there is so little RTW that fits me properly that I think I’m better off altering sewing patterns.

    And yes – I definitely am in the club of buying Craftsy classes and then not watching them! They’re so tempting! But when it comes down to it, I’d usually rather sew!

  5. You did a beautiful job of these. I envy the way you get the back to fit so well. I haven’t mastered that backside yet…always have ‘drag’ lines.
    Craftsy classes are awesome, aren’t they? I love that they are always there like a great reference on the shelf.
    and thanks for sharing the fabric, Had no idea that denim linen looked that awesome. Will have to try it.

  6. I’ve copied my jeans before, but it was with heavier denim with some stretch. While they fit ok, I wasn’t in love with the fabric. Yours turned out really well, I love how comfy they look!

  7. Those pants are awesome! And I am super jealous over all the cool sewing classes you get to take.

    Would you recommend Thurlow to a pant beginner like me? I own the pattern, but haven’t mustered up the courage to get started.

    • Yes, the only hard part about the pattern is the fitting. I think the instructions are good, and you will get a chance to try a fly front and welt pockets. Also Lladybird did a Thurlow sew along a while back that is great and has pics of all the steps.

  8. Wow, your pants look amazing! I want to make pants too, Thurlows to be exact, but I’m kind of scared. I think I’m going to start on it soon though, because I need more separates in my life!

    I have a lot of craftsy classes that I haven’t watched or done…I’m glad I’m not the only one!

  9. Gorgeous! I love flared jeans. You did a great job. I signed up for the class but failed to complete it. I tried using his method on a skirt but had an awful time transferring marks on organza. I would love to copy my favorite jeans and skirt

    • I decided not to use organza. I used swedish tracing paper instead and it worked well for me. It’s also easy to mark. In the class I took we just used medical exam paper, and that worked okay too.

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