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Tips for Tracing Sewing Patterns

I asked Annabelle Short to write a second post for you after the success of her previous post ‘How To Organise Sewing Patterns‘ and this time she’s got some tips for tracing patterns for you! Woop!

Over to Annabelle!

Tips for tracing sewing patterns

Tracing sewing patterns is great for a few reasons. The most obvious is that it allows you to keep the pattern beyond a single use even if you cut through a copy. It’s also helpful when you’re making garments from the same pattern in different sizes.

If you aren’t sure how to get started tracing your patterns, though, don’t worry! That’s exactly the process we’re going to spell out here, so you can create a catalogue of your favourite patterns for the future. 

Choosing Tracing Paper

One of the essential supplies for tracing is the paper you’ll do it on. This might seem like a no-brainer, but there are different tastes when it comes to tracing paper. 

A simple but favourite choice for many is tracing paper that uses either using graph lines or dots. This makes it easier to stay measured and on track.

Some also prefer materials such as Swedish tracing paper over a standard tracing paper. This is a slightly thicker and more fabric-like option which makes the traced patterns more durable. Not to mention, it can be helpful to have a tracing paper that isn’t as easy to tear while you’re working with it.

Tracing paper also works perfectly for making your own clothing patterns.

What Other Supplies Do You Need? 

Other than tracing paper and the pattern itself, you’ll need a couple of other supplies.

First, choose a pen. Fine-tip or felt-tip pens are good choices. If your pen is too thick, you’ll have a harder time capturing minute details. Either a solid black or brightly coloured pen will make it easy to see your marks as you work and afterwards.

A pencil should be in your supply list too. You’ll also want to grab a ruler or other straight edge and some cutting tools too for cutting paper. 

Paper scissors especially for pattern making are another essential pattern making tool.

Getting Started Tracing Sewing Patterns

Get started with a large, flat surface. If you don’t have a dedicated table for sewing and craftwork, a large counter or dining room table works just as well.

You probably aren’t going to try working on the floor, however. That method is likely to leave you with a skewed pattern and sore back from the odd angle! You’ll also want to make sure you have plenty of light to work with. 

To start, spread out your pattern on the table. Then, spread out tracing paper on top of that. It’s a good idea to use more tracing paper than you think you might need. You’ll have a much easier time trimming off excess than trying to fit your pattern in as you reach the edge of the paper. 

It’s also important to put something on the edges of your tracing paper to ensure it doesn’t slip or slide during tracing. A few heavy mugs, books, or paperweights can do the trick. 

The Tracing Process

Now, you’re ready to start tracing the pattern itself. Start off with a pencil. This will make it easier to see what you’re tracing and it’ll be easier to notice if you make any small mistakes. You can go back and make the pattern darker with a pen later. 

When you’re doing this, you’ll want to make sure to use your straightedge. For now, focus on the main lines of the pattern rather than the minute details.

Once you have the main body of the pattern fleshed out, you can start marking out smaller details. This includes any fold markings, hemlines, cutting lines, dots, dashes, and anything else on the pattern. 

The general rule of thumb is that every detail in the pattern is important. They are made as a guide and don’t usually add details you don’t need. 

Storing Your Pattern

Of course, a pattern needs to be labelled so they can be easily assessed for later use. Yet, just a name isn’t going to give you all the information you need. You’ll want to mark the size you traced and the cutting indication.

Organise sewing patterns

Finally, no one wants to put all this work into tracing a pattern only to find it crumpled up in a drawer later. There are a variety of ways that you can organize sewing patterns to preserve them.

From binder storage to filing cabinets, there are plenty of options to find what works for you and keeps your patterns safe. 

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