The Sewing Place

Tracing sewing patterns (my experience)


Tracing sewing patterns (my experience)
« on: May 04, 2021, 00:36:30 AM »
Disclaimer: I am a noob lockdown sewer so don't take this to be a tutorial in any way but the way I approached the problem of tracing and cutting out my patterns for my latest garment project with a few suggestions from things I learnt along the way.

I came to the obvious conclusion early on that it didn't make sense to actually cut the original tissue pattern to size as I would deprive myself of using the same pattern in the future for different sizes and even if I was sure that I would only use one size the tissue is so fragile it's probably best to make more robust copies and leave the original as a master template.

The first step(regardless of method of tracing) is to iron the pattern tissue. I roughly cut out each piece and then ironed each piece with no steam and the ink side down. I did find that the tissue is obviously already pressed after printing and you do have to gently pull some of these kinks out while pressing.

I decided to use tracing paper as my method and bought some Hemline paper(76cm x 1.02mtrs - 3 sheets). Interestingly this paper has quite a few bad reviews as it isn't really very transparent and to be honest just seems to be regular thin paper. Anyway using the light box method it worked just fine.

For the 'Light Box' we are going to use a large window such as a conservatory door. Tape the original tissue pattern to the glass and the cut a slightly larger piece of tracing paper and tape this over the original.

Ok, much of the above is probably commonly known but here is insights that may help avoid some frustration:

* A great advantage of taping it to a window is that you can get both the original and copy nice and tight. To do this efficiently tape top to bottom, side to side, then diagonal to diagonal etc.

* I first started using a felt tip type pen which initially seemed ok but what looked like a nice accurate line started to bleed into the paper. TBH probably not a big issue but I switched to another pen and was more please with the results. I'm sure this has as much to do with the paper as the pen so I suggest just doing some tests on a piece of the tracing paper until you are happy.

* I used some paper sticky tape which I think was bought as an eco friendly tape but is basically just like painting masking tape as far as I can tell.
I think it important to use this type of tape as it sticks well enough for the job but peels off  the paper and glass easily afterwards without ripping or leaving any sticky residue.

* As I was using a tracing method I though it best to copy as much as I though relevant. All notches, circles, grain line arrows, pattern numbers...

* Finally, a word on ergonomics. I'm a fairly fit, young(ish) adult but as this window light box idea is vertical is can be a bit awkward. You may want to, for example, tape the piece slightly lower and kneel on a cushion to do most of the tracing.

* Accuracy. Not sure how important this is when tracing as long as you get all the corner points correct as most of the shaky tracing lines will be corrected when cutting smoothly with scissors. However, if there is an obvious straight line such as 'on the fold' etc. then use a straight edge and I find that when tracing a curved line it does help to place the heel of your hand at the rough centre point of the curve really helps.



Re: Tracing sewing patterns (my experience)
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2021, 06:18:12 AM »
Lovely @Ed  ... Thank you x
The Imperfect Perfectionist sews again


Re: Tracing sewing patterns (my experience)
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2021, 06:36:33 AM »
Yes, large patio doors are very handy. I use Burda tissue with felt tips, a ruler & French curve and it's fine. The tissue is quite robust. I've never tried Hemline but it is a budget brand.

Many people are taking about projectors as online pattern designers are offering projector files alongside PDFs. Some rave about the ability to 'stich' pieces in a separate program: some rant about software incompatiblities. Have you tried this? Planning to?
2020 stash: not gonna count, not gonna feel guilty.


Re: Tracing sewing patterns (my experience)
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2021, 07:03:12 AM »
I also find Burda pattern paper very good and you get lots of sheets in the pack.
I don't generally trace because I only need my own size.  You might be surprised at how robust the tissue is.  I have patterns that i have used up to 7 or 8 times, with pins, that are still just fine and not falling to bits.
Life's too short for ironing.


Re: Tracing sewing patterns (my experience)
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2021, 09:09:59 AM »
Another fan of Burda tracing paper... I just use it on the table ...easy to see through.


Re: Tracing sewing patterns (my experience)
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2021, 10:40:17 AM »
That's my technique too, since I always have to do a FBA! 

I found this during lockdown and it's economical and sturdy enough for the purpose:

or there's the version without grids:


Re: Tracing sewing patterns (my experience)
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2021, 10:41:38 AM »
I've only done this once, with a AO printed pattern and I didn't want to cut it up.  The lines were quite easy to see so I just laid my old, now all gone  Kwik Sew stuff on.  I don't think I would have the will to do it your way @EdTheMaker 

I didn't think the Swedish Paper was up to much when I got it, but now I quite like it, used a few times to renew some well pinned and torn sleeves.
Stash extension 2021 - 15.5 meters
Left at the end of 2020 - 47.5 meters


Re: Tracing sewing patterns (my experience)
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2021, 16:48:57 PM »
Never traced a pattern in my life  :laughing: but that's great info for those so inclined.

I've got a favourite top tissue pattern that must have been used well over ten times, possible more like 15 or even twenty.  They are tougher than you think if handle carefully.


Re: Tracing sewing patterns (my experience)
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2021, 17:20:18 PM »
here's the version without grids:

Wow, it's the same width and length as Swedish tracing paper but almost half the price.  I still have a lot of Swedish paper left and will give this a try when I eventually run out.  Must bookmark the page.


Re: Tracing sewing patterns (my experience)
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2021, 12:00:10 PM »
Good info @EdTheMaker
Can I add a couple of bits to that?  I do a lot of tracing including tracing my own patterns to adapt into something else. 

I always use a pencil rather than one as it’s more accurate.  Also it can be rubbed out if you make an error.  If you have straight lines to trace such as on the shoulder, side seams etc, mark the corners at each end and place a mark midway.  Then when you take it off the window you can draw the straight lines rather then trying to do it in situ.