Cloning Designer Garments

Do You Have $7000 to Spare?

I often take inspiration from a designer outfit and this one from Alexander McQueen caught my eye. The sweater retailed for $5000 and the skirt another $2000. Why not try to replicate the pieces?


I fashioned the skirt from a tweed from Linton Mills and added contrast black leather from Mood Fabrics. Concerned that the leather might rip at the top of the slit, I reinforced it with grosgrain ribbon. Notice the ribbon peaking out from the lining. The most difficult task for the skirt was topstitching the leather. My industrial Juki with an edge compensating foot attached made the job easy and produced perfectly even stitching. I sewed over tissue paper just to make sure there were no problems with the fabric feeding evenly.


Finished skirt:


For the sweater I used a purchased (on sale of course) one and added the rhinestone embellishment. Rather than apply heat set Swarovski stones directly to the sweater I opted to design each element separately and hand stitch them on.

I designed the motifs on sticky backed transfer film. The rhinestones are placed wrong side up and them heat set with an iron. I used one layer of cotton tulle covered with another layer of silk tulle.


The silk tulle edge gathered, turned over a cardboard circle, and pressed flat.


My sweater blocking board was perfect to stretch the sweater slightly and figure out the placement for each motif. Some motifs were composed of sewn on larger stones and pins helped with placement of each stone. The safety pin marks the bust point so I don’t place a motif directly there.


The large black flower surrounded by tiny stones was the most difficult. I used a scrap of black Ultrasuede, digitized the design, and sewed in the embroidery hoop. Tiny 2mm rhinestones outlined the petals.




My little girl Sydney decided she wanted to get into the photo. I’m on my way to a party for my husband’s parents 70th wedding anniversary! How many couples make 70 years together? Quite an achievement and the entire family gathered to celebrate with them. For all those who asked for more details,  I promise the custom dress form is coming next.

86 thoughts on “Do You Have $7000 to Spare?”

  1. This is so impressive! What a huge project, or it seems to be in light of all those motifs on the sweater. You are an expert cloner!

  2. Fantastic recreation! I’ve always wondered if I’d be able to add a bit of leather to my garments, but I have a lot of trepidation. I don’t have an industrial sewing machine so wonder if it’s possible to do a leather-to-fabric job with a standard machine. Is there a foot and special needle? Or should I just let it go? Anyway, thanks again for your inspirational post!

    1. Thanks. I’ve never seen edge compensating feet for home machines but they might exist for some models. Try either a teflon foot or walking foot. The tissue paper also helps prevent sticking and gives you an even stitch. I would definitely practice on some scraps before trying on the garment. Needle holes don’t come out of leather. A leather needle also helps prevent skipped stitches.

    2. If it is of any help I regularly sew cloth patches onto leather motorcycle vests and use my 25 year old Janome with either standard thread or slightly thicker. The trick I find is using a leather machine needle available from any fabric or haberdashery stores. If you do make a mistake and have to unpick leaving needle holes in the leather use the back of a teaspoon to firmly smooth them down and work towards the centre of each hole.This will make them a little less obvious.

    1. The sweater was $89 (marked down and Bloomingdales additional discount from $250) about $50 for tweed, $125 for Swarovski crystals and maybe another $15 in notions/lining. Quite a discount.

  3. I think your outfit is pretty marvolous. When I saw the original, I really
    wasn’t all that impressed.

  4. Absolutely fabulous!! Would love to know how much $$$ you saved by doing it yourself? Please also include the number of hours you spent on creating it too!

  5. Fabulous! What is an edge compensating foot?
    I’m planning to make a skirt with a piece of Linton tweed (not enough for a jacket unfortunately) and had considered a leather trim. I may have to go shopping though as what I have is the wrong weight and colour. I’m looking for navy.

    1. Thanks Anne. Look closely at the photo of the edge compensating foot and you will see that the left side is higher than the right. Compensating feet have a little spring in one half the foot to allow it to ride evenly over different heights. This keeps the fabric evenly distributed under the feed dogs and eliminates skipped stitches. Compensating feet come in right and left versions and varying stitch widths. I have a set which includes varying widths for both right and left. The nice thing about industrial feet is they are inexpensive, much less than feet for home machines. Please post pics of your Linton tweed. The fabrics are so wonderful.

      1. Thank you. I will do. I have a foot a bit like that for my sm but it only works on one side and doesn’t have a spring so maybe not much like it!

  6. Absolutely stunning on your little figure! As always, thank you for all of the great details.. Sydney has a precious face! Thanks for including her. Love it for your family with your parents’ 70 year anniversary.. What a beautiful legacy.. Hope everyone inherits those longevity genes too.

    1. Thank you. Sydney is my sewing buddy and is happy to keep me company in the sewing room. We all wish for as long, healthy and happy lives as our parents.

  7. Fabulous. And really refreshing to see some high end craftiness on display! It’s lovely. I have a Marfy skirt pattern that has really similar lines to your McQueen knockoff, albiet it falls mid-calf. Hope the celebrations were fun!

    1. Thanks Mel. I did feel like I was doing arts and crafts with the rhinestones. I do love the skirt with its varying lengths and slits. Marfy does great designs and I love seeing what you do with them.

  8. You continually stun, amaze, and make me gobsmacked by your ability to SEE something and think “oh, I can do that”. I saw the designer version and though “meh, why would you want to replicate that” but your version is so mind blowingly BETTER in every way that I now see why you loved it.

  9. Pretty good Mary; 100 times more beautiful than the original and such a lovely, lovely episode of “what Mary did next”. Just wondering: Did you heat set the rhinestones on the sticky transfer paper before or after the cardboard and tulle step? And you often refer to Barbara Matera; but I cannot find any books written by her. Have you gleaned information by studying her costumes?
    Many thanks, Janet

    1. Thank you for following. The rhinestones are placed upside down on sticky transfer paper. This is helpful as you can preview the design before heat setting the stones permanently. After I was satisfied with the design I turned the film so the stones were right side up and fused to the circles of tulle (cotton tulle covered with a layer of silk tulle.) The cardboard just makes it easier to turn the silk tulle neatly. Press and slip the cardboard out before applying to the sweater.
      Barbara Matera never wrote a book but her techniques are sometimes referred to in sewing articles. Threads Magazine has a few. I don’t know of any easily indexed reference to her work. She passed away several years ago.

  10. Your jewel placement and variety and amount is way better than the original as it looks cluttered. The skirt is wonderful and fits so well and hangs perfectly. You have such a gift for creating masterpieces! My parents also have been married 70 years…though not happily…it is truly a gift to have found the right one from the start!

  11. This is a wonderful outfit and the top and skirt work brilliantly together. In the AMcQ photograph I don’t feel the colours are so harmonious. As others have said you really improved on the original. The other thought I have (as well as being overwhelmed by your skill) is that straight skirts can be a little boring, so mixing up the fabrics and lengths of the panels is a really nice way to make something special. The same of course can be said of black jumper – a wonderful, versatile item (practical, cosy and goes with everything) but one which is just not that special for an event. The beadwork really lifts it to couture. Well done Mary.

    1. Thanks Kate. I was drawn to the varying lengths of the skirt panels. Like you said, it makes a simple skirt much more interesting as well as the contrasting fabrics. I may try this one again with other materials. I can also see wearing the sweater with other items such as a plain skirt or pants. This was too much effort and, although not terribly expensive, more than I wanted to spend on a single use item. I’m following your tailoring projects; the jacket is really starting to look wonderful.

  12. So beautiful and refined. Always a pleasure following your blog. Am using your method for drafting a three part sleeve for my ‘little french jacket’ and using V7975 pattern.

    1. Thanks for the compliments. I’m happy you enjoy reading and have found some useful info. The sleeve draft took some figuring out and thanks for letting me know you find it helpful.

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