tracing patterns

tracing patterns

Until recently, I cut my sewing patterns to the size I wanted. That is, I chopped straight into the tissue that came in the packet. I just didn’t know anything else and anyway, I have to confess, the prep before you start sewing is not my favourite part. I always wash and dry my new fabric, but then there is cutting out the paper pattern, pinning it to the fabric and cutting it out…. it takes ages to get to the fun part, sewing!

I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to hurry up and get on with it and also, the cutting part feels so FINAL. Especially when I am using beautiful fabric that’s sat around for ever waiting for the perfect pattern…. do you have those pieces of fabric too? (and those skeins of yarn?) And, these days, having enough time to get all the pieces laid out, pinned and cut without someone running all over it or wanting to “help” is one of my biggest challenges.

Anyhow. I’ve turned a new leaf. I’ve started tracing my pattern pieces from the original AND I am even planning to make a muslin. There are a few reasons why I’m changing my ways. Firsly, I’ve bought a couple of beautiful Japanese sewing books which include the patterns on a few sheets of paper, all laid one over the other. In order to make any of the patterns you have to first trace the pieces you want. So basically, I have to change. My other reason is that although I suspect I am at more-or-less the size I’m going to be post-babies… nothing is certain, and my shape has changed over the last eleven or so years. So, I’m cutting the size closest to my measurements and will have a play around with a muslin to get the fit as good as possible. That way, if I need to adjust a piece so that part of it is the next size up or down, or if I get bigger or smaller later, I’ve still got the original to work from. Plus, some of the patterns I’ve bought recently look so pretty. It seems a shame to cut them up. (I’m thinking that pdf downloads would be a different story. You could just print out the pattern again and again once you had it on your computer… )

While I’d love a roll of proper drafting paper, it doesn’t seem to be that easy to come by. I’ve found some on Amazon, and it’s sat in my basket for a while, but it feels a bit expensive and I haven’t got round to actually buying it. In the meantime, I’m using good old baking paper. It’s handy and fairly transparent, without being too fragile. The downside is that it isn’t terribly wide and I’ve had to cellotape a couple of pieces together to make it wide enough for some of the pattern pieces for my Washi dress. Actually, I ran out of baking paper with only one piece to go… so I grabbed a piece of A3 white paper and used that. It worked ok, but wasn’t nearly as easy to see through.

Tracing is pretty straight-forward. I lay my baking paper over the pattern, weigh it down with bits and bobs and draw the outline in pencil in the size I want. I also mark where there are instructions on the pattern piece; like the piece should lay on the fold, the direction of the grain or the little shapes which mark things like where sleeves attach or darts join. The other important information that I include are the names of the pieces, how many of each piece to cut from the fabric or interfacing, and the size I’ve traced. So far, so good.

So, folks… do you have any tips you’d like to share? Where do you get your tracing paper? And, how do you store your patterns?

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