In the past, I have been daunted by the task of pattern tracing. Everyone kept telling me to use tracing paper, carbon paper and a tracing wheel. While I’m sure it’s a good way of doing it, I find it to be messy and a pain in the rear. I tried it once and it was a frustrating experience so I stopped. Pattern suppliers must have loved me because I’d just cut the pattern and if I needed a new size I would go buy a new one. What a waste! Plus, I found that once in a while the pattern I wanted was out of circulation.
I didn’t like the traditional method so I came up with something that works for me. I’m sure other people use this method but I thought I would share how I trace patterns without all that hassle and without risking your paper/pattern moving on you.
I start by cutting out pattern pieces from the original sheet but I don’t size down. I leave all the sizes and give as much gap on the sides as possible. You don’t necessarily need to cut them out individually, you can have a couple pattern pieces on the same page, which I often do. You need it to be able to fit into your window but also have room around it for your paper.
You will need a few supplies:
Painters tape, an ink pen or pencil (not a ball point pen) and some paper. I’m using paper from my daughter’s easel. It comes in a roll and it is handy. The reason I use painters tape is because it won’t rip the pattern or paper when you try to remove it like other tapes often do.
Now, tape your first pattern piece to your window. You want to make sure it is smoothed out. Patterns often come out of the envelope with weird crinkles. Smooth them out and tape them to the window. I put the minimum amount of tape onto the pattern pieces and the paper which also help prevent tearing/ripping but if it does rip it will be minimal. You can also fold over the ends of the tape before putting it on to give yourself and easy pull tab.
I don’t know if you can see it in the photos but it’s a rainy day here today. That’s okay. It doesn’t have to be a sunny day to do this, it just needs to be daytime. You need to be able to see the pattern under the paper and that doesn’t require a lot of light.
Now place your blank paper over top of the pattern piece that you just taped up and tape it down. Make sure it’s smooth and there are no bubbles or it can affect your pattern tracing.
As you can see, the pattern shows easily underneath the easel paper. Now you just take your ink pen or pencil and trace the size you need. Be sure to include ALL the markings, write the pattern number or name on the pattern, what piece it is, the size that you are tracing and how many pieces you need to cut.
When you are done tracing the pattern, carefully peel back the tape. If you folded over the ends it will be easy to pull off the tape but go slow to make sure you don’t create any rips. I always pull from the pattern and peel outward as I find I don’t have any rips that way.
As I take the tape off, I put it on the window sill somewhere to keep it close and ready to be used again for the next pattern piece.
When you are done your pieces should look something like this:
You can see that I added the center fold line, wrote the hem allowance, marked the waistline, included whether it was a front or back piece, how many pieces I needed to cut, added the little ticks for lining up the fabric and whatnot. Other pieces included embellishment markings, belt lines, chest width for the size of my pattern, and so on.
When you are done cutting out the pieces you want to store all the pieces together. Many people use envelopes but I don’t have any handy so I just grabbed a large freezer bag since I had plenty of those. I wrote on the bag what the item pieces made, the pattern maker and pattern number (so I could easily pull out the instructions from the original envelope if I need them) and what size the pattern pieces are. Then I store them in a drawer I’ve designated for patterns to pull out when I am ready to use it.
Tracing patterns is especially helpful when you know you will be using that particular pattern often. In this case, it’s a peasant blouse. I got lazy and decided I didn’t want to manually measure out and create this pattern anymore so I bought it on sale for $2.20 at my fabric store. To me, it was worth $2.20 to save me all that time and frustration of making a new pattern every time my daughter outgrows the current one. It takes me forever to make a pattern. I check and double check so many times that even a simple peasant blouse pattern takes me hours to sketch out. I’m happy to avoid that hassle. The fun part is the sewing and seeing the finished item on my daughter.
I hope you enjoyed my first tutorial. I have another tutorial in the works for an applique shirt. My daughter is going to LOVE it (that’s your hint).