Totally worth the time: Tracing my fave patterns onto cloth

Pretty excited to share with you about this one project I did over the weekend--the project that keeps on project-ing, right?  (That doesn't make sense.  Gift that keeps on giving, except I made the gift myself.)

Anyway, I've been meaning to do this for a while, but--you may have noticed that I have favorite patterns.  I almost never make them exactly as the package shows, but I use them as jumping off points to make whatever it is I want to make--that I know will fit.  My current faves are Simplicity 2444 and McCalls M5489 (out of print--try Simplicity 1876, Simplicity 3878, or Simplicity 4070 if you want your own!).

I love those two patterns, and I love that I know my exact size and how to get the perfect fit.  But when I use them allll the time, they get a little floppy and torn and fragile.  So, the ideal solution, I think, is to copy them onto pattern tracing cloth so I can reuse them indefinitely!

It's a bit of a pain, really, to trace every line and dart and snip mark, then cut out very carefully, but is totally worth it!  I'm really happy to have these ready for me to use.

Here's Simplicity 2444:

And here's my McCall's M5849, my strapless or basic summer dress pattern.  This style is great because you can make the bodice in practically 1/4 of a yard if your fabric is wide!  I've used it with small pieces of fabric many a time.

I'm excited to use these, and I'm sure they'll be easier to cut out with, also!  Paper slips around easily, you know, and I never pin my patterns down (I just use scissors, pincushion, my water glass!, etc. as weights!), so the friction of the fabric will be helpful.

Have you ever done this?  Do you have other solutions for reusing your fave patterns??

30 comments

  1. Great idea! I hadn't thought to try this but I definately will now for my favourite patterns :) Thanks!

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  2. I do this as well. Especially because I'm just learning how to make clothes and the likelihood cutting the wrong size of a pattern out is high. Plus, I have a lot of patterns for kids and they grow so quickly, I hate to just use the pattern once.

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    1. No need to cut exactly around what you think is your size on the pattern--just cut it out at the largest size and fold back to your size! Although it is nice that you can shape the tracing cloth patterns like you would a muslin. And then you'll have a custom pattern if you reshape parts!

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  3. Yup! I have some vintage patterns that I love, and I use heavy duty tracing paper to keep them good as new. I'm glad I'm not the only one!

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    1. Would be great for using vintage patterns!

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  4. I've been wanting to do this with my patterns but haven't yet. I'm new to sewing and I seem to always cut the patterns too big.

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    1. You're not the only one! I normally cut two sizes smaller than the envelope tells me to, but this can be risky. See my post about how to pick the right size here: http://www.adventuresindressmaking.com/2010/08/sewing-circle-how-to-cut-out-right.html and my post about pattern sizing/fit here: http://www.adventuresindressmaking.com/2012/01/clothing-sizes-are-weird-but-so-are.html

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  5. if you trace them onto freezer paper, you can iron them down to the fabric, cut out around it, and then it just peels right off. and freezer paper is reusable (can be re-ironed), so just iron and peel away! best ever. i will never use anything else!

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    1. That would be very effective, but sounds like a lot of freezer paper! I didn't know it was re-usable, how many times, I wonder?

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  6. I do this with all of my patterns; I haven't cut into an original in years! It not only prevents tearing, but also keeps all sizes on the original in tact. This is great when I want to use the same pattern to sew for someone with different proportions than I, when my weight fluctuates, etc. Because of this I still have some mint condition favorites from when I was a teenager (ie much smaller)!

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    1. I do that by cutting approximately around the original pattern and folding to my size. It's a bit of a pain but good if I only use the pattern once or still want to have the original sizes for someone else, like you said!

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  7. Emily: I totally need to try this freezer paper trick! I HATE how patterns move when I'm cutting and then I end up with wonky pieces that I have to hack at to fit.

    Also, am I the only one who always traces my patterns onto white tracing paper? I never know if I cut the wrong size and I'm just too afraid of cutting into the printed version!

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    1. I always cut the actual pattern, but at the largest size. Then I fold the edges to my correct size, so I never cut off the other sizes just in case.

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  8. ooo... the freezer paper trick sounds interesting. I am a pinner, so making a "copy" of patterns sounds like a great idea. I saw some one purchasing pattern paper at joann's this weekend & wondered if anyone really used it. I have a cople vintage patterns that I really need to make copies of, they have been cut (and gasp) tapped.

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    1. I def have taped a pattern before--oops! I won't do it again on my faves, though, now that I have the traced versions!

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  9. What a good idea! I have not tried tracing before but maybe I need to start since I often tweak things and the original can get a bit worn out.

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    1. Def--maybe start out with a larger size and work down?

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  10. Anonymous3/20/2012

    My sewing teacher recently suggested I iron the paper pattern to interfacing. That way you keep the paper pattern with all the markings and darts etc but it is stronger and won't tear when it has interfacing ironed onto the back of it!

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    1. Wow, that would work! But all that interfacing could get spendy unless you got a good deal...

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  11. I was wondering where you can get this fabric/what kind of fabric you're using? I've been collecting vintage patterns, but don't want to cut into them (eeeek!! what if I mess up??), and this seems like the perfect way to get good use out of these patterns. As well as increasing the adaptability of modern patterns.

    Come to think of it, this would also be a great way to work with pattern magazines (also starting to collect Burdas. . .). . .

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    1. Wish I could help--I got it from my mom, who got it from a friend who bought a bold of 15 yards or something, online for super cheap. Look around online and I'm sure JoAnn has it, too, near the interfacings?

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  12. Great idea! I always want to have a 'nice' copy and then a rough one! but it never works out that way.

    Barnicles

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  13. I never cut the original pattern and make a copy onto tracing paper. It takes longer but at least you keep the original intact

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  14. i've done several ways of copying patterns over the years, because i so often alter patterns, and because i never wanted to harm my vintage patterns, but copying them onto fabric is by far my favourite. when i draft my own patterns, i usually draft them directly onto fabric. i love how you barely need any pins/weights when you cut fabric with fabric patterns, static holds them in place!

    i usually use old sheets, but i've also used cheap broadcloth ($1.50/yd), and even just plain old ugly fabric. a friend gave me yards and yards of a horrifically tacky patriotic cotton a while ago, and every pattern i've drafted in the past year has been flag print!

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    1. I guess using whatever fabric is cheapest is good! I like the tracing stuff because it's semi-sheer, and also has a good gripping texture. I hate pinning!

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  15. May I ask, what pen are you using to trace? I'm currently using a water soluable pencil that I'll iron over so it's not soluable anymore, and making the writing and number markings in Sharpie, since pencil isn't very clear on the tracing fabric.

    I did happen upon my fabric at Jo-Ann's, but I plan to purchase a bolt at Fabric Depot - if you buy by the bolt there it's automatically 40% off!

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    1. Good question--I just used a regular ballpoint, haha! Hadn't put much thought into it. You have good ideas, though!

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  16. I buy interfacing by a 10 meter roll and it's only $10. My mother used to cut to the biggest size and fold back. I trace mine patterns onto interfacing with all the markings. Makes cutting out so easy!

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    1. Interfacing would be very crisp and heavy; could work well for some styles but I like the softness of the pattern grid fabric. And the grid helps so much!
      I always cut the pattern to the biggest size and fold back, and it works okay, but one these two fave/stanby patterns it has been great to have the patterns in my perfect size!

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