When you use a commercial sewing pattern, do you trace it? I know a lot of people who do trace, but sometimes it’s so tempting to push that aside and go ahead and cut into the printed tissue pattern. I do a little of both. I’ll trace a pattern if I know it’s something I’ll make over and over, but I’ll cut a pattern if it’s something that I’ll only make once. And you know what happens? The pattern that I don’t trace is the one that I use forever, and the poor tissue paper shows it! Rob’s shirt pattern is an example of that. I’ve used it quite a few times, but I didn’t trace it onto tracing paper, and now it’s quite sad looking.
There are several reasons for tracing, one of them being pattern wear. Another reason is that you can keep all of your sizes intact. What if you make a garment for yourself and then your best friend wants you to make the same dress for her? If you cut out your pattern and the two of you are different sizes, you’re out of luck! Tracing allows you to always have the other sizes handy, and it’s nice to be able to easily draw and cut between sizes, especially if they aren’t nested.
My favorite tracing paper to use is Swedish tracing paper. It’s nice and thick and can actually be sewn up and used as a more durable fitting shell than a tissue pattern. It also stores well, doesn’t tear easily and is easier to tape than tissue. I get mine from Modern Domestic, but you can also find it online.
When you’re ready to trace your sewing pattern, the first thing you’ll need to do is iron it (that pattern, that is). Put your iron on a wool setting, and with no steam, carefully press out the creases in the paper. Spread it out over a large smooth surface and cover it with your tracing paper. Get out an assortment of rulers and a mechanical pencil (for the fine point), paper scissors and pattern weights.
Once you decide on a size, trace around it. Be sure to include all notches, button markings and the grainline. Write the pattern name, piece name and/or number, the number and type of fabrics to cut from the piece, and most importantly, the size you traced off!
When all of your pieces have been traced, you can roughly cut them out if you are going to cut them with a rotary cutter. Don’t worry about cutting them all out exactly on the outer lines.
Once you have that done, you can lay out the pieces to cut them. When you go around them with the rotary cutter, you’ll be cutting out both your tracing paper pieces, and your fabric pieces, saving you some time.
I would recommend that if you’ll be cutting out your pattern with scissors, that you cut out your tracing paper pieces first.
Do you trace your sewing patterns? Or do you dive right in and cut them up?