Custom Style

Sewing that's Retro, Geek, and Chic

Tracing Sewing Patterns

I promise that my Easter dress post will be next! I’m presently weeding through all the photos for it. =)

In the meantime, I feel I need to write a post about pattern tracing and the wonderful paper I recently discovered since so many sewcialists have been asking me about it over on Twitter. Seems that everyone was looking for the perfect way to trace patterns at the same time and I just happened to find the answer right before they started asking! (Weird how things like that happen…)

I have always tried to trace sewing patterns especially if they are vintage patterns! That way I can alter and make design changes without losing the original, and I can keep all the sizes when a pattern is drafted in multiple sizes all nested together.

(I also cheat a bit and use my printer/copier/scanner to make copies of many of the small pieces. And I’ve even been known to copy the big pattern pieces in sections and tape them together.)

My previous pattern tracing method involved rolls of craft paper (white or brown). Craft paper is best for pattern drafting from scratch, but it is a pain when you want to trace something because you can’t see through it. To trace a pattern, I would have to place my pattern on top of the paper and use a tracing wheel to punch little dotted lines into the paper. Then I would need to go back and mark over the dots with a pencil. It was like tracing everything twice and it took for-ev-ER!

So I started hunting for a roll of thinner paper that was more see-through.

I couldn’t find anything sheer enough in wide widths in my local craft stores. Thus, I began searching online.

First, I found this 36-inch wide roll of vellum tracing paper by Pro Art brand. I added it to my wishlist and received some for Christmas. It is wonderful stuff, but it’s a bit pricey and only comes in a 5-yard roll, which doesn’t last very long. I plan to use it for patterns I need to use a million times. (It’s actually what I used to trace the vintage pattern I started with for my Easter dress, and you can see it in this post.)

My search for more affordable tracing paper continued.

And then I found it! Same brand as the tracing vellum but it’s actual tracing paper. I didn’t see it in my original searches because you have to click the 12-inch wide roll link to see that you can get it in all sorts of widths. Pick your width up to 36-inches and pick your length from 8 yards to 50 yards! (I like the 36-inch wide.)

Here’s a photo I posted to Instagram when I first got my roll (you can see how nice and sheer the paper is):

It’s exactly what I’ve always wanted – affordable, thicker than tissue; thin enough to see-through; relatively strong so it doesn’t rip too easily; and marks well with pencil, pen, or marker! Just what every serious sewist or sewcialist needs. =)

If you ever have a sewing dilemma, feel free to leave a comment, ask me by email or find me on Twitter – I’d love to help out if I can!

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20 responses to “Tracing Sewing Patterns

  1. Thimble & Cork April 29, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    This is awesome! I’ve always slacked on tracing my patterns because I couldn’t find good tracing paper. Thanks for the tip!!

  2. Leila April 29, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    You’re a life saver! I’ve got some of this tracing paper in my wishlist. I’m excited to try it.

    • Brooke April 29, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      It’s less than a dollar a yard for the 36″x20yd and I think it’s about 50 cents a yard for the 50-yard roll! Don’t know that there’s anything else for such a decent price. You will love it! =)

  3. sewexhausted April 29, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    What a great find! Thanks for sharing! 😀 ~Laurie

  4. Gjeometry April 29, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Awesome! I use the same stuff, tracing paper, but it’s thicker than the tissue paper kind, but not quite as thick as vellum. I get it from the college I am attending, they have their own sewing store, prices are good and you don’t have to pay tax!

  5. laurahoj April 29, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    This is definitely the best tracing paper! I can’t wait to try the vellum one day, too.

    • Brooke April 29, 2013 at 3:53 pm

      The vellum is definitely what you want when you know you need to use & abuse a pattern a lot, but I was really surprised how durable the tracing paper is too! It’s nice to finally have a couple see-through options. So glad you are enjoying your new roll of paper with your brand new cutting table! =)

      • laurahoj April 29, 2013 at 4:00 pm

        I’m feeling so spoiled with a new seam roll, tracing paper, and cutting table! I don’t have any patterns that are going to be used over and over again, yet. That will probably change one day, though.

  6. purplepincushion April 29, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    I happened upon several rolls (like hundreds of yards per roll) of bakers wax paper at a thrift store for $2/roll. For the price I thought I would try it for pattern tracing. It works awesome! It is easy to see through like the tracing paper. At first I had trouble finding something to write on it with (because of the wax finish) but I discovered that colored pencils work great. And then the even greater discovery that tracing an ink printed tissue pattern with a light colored pencil rubs the ink off on to the wax as neat and clean as a copy machine! Now I just rub my pencil over the area I am tracing to pick up the original lines/direction/markings. It was quite a happy accident 🙂

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  8. Karen April 29, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    Thanks, Brooke, for this superb info. (Don’t you just love Amazon?) I have been stingily using a very old roll of pattern tracing paper that I have, allocating it to only “important” projects, as it certainly won’t last forever. So glad to know of a replacement for it!

    • Brooke April 29, 2013 at 8:29 pm

      You’re welcome! I am once again amazed at how timely this information seems to be for everyone! So glad I could help you find something else to use once your paper is gone. =)

  9. Cation Designs April 30, 2013 at 12:05 am

    Thanks for sharing! I finally used up all of the tissue paper that I had leftover from my husband’s RTW shirts, and I’ve been looking for a better (but still cheap) substitute. This is perfect!

  10. Jennifer May 8, 2013 at 10:36 am

    I use the same thing. Here in Montreal I found it at Deserres (formerly Omer Deserres). They are an art, craft and DIY hobby supplies store. I asked the people that worked there for tarcing paper and it took a long time to find this. It was all the way in the back corner!

    • Brooke May 8, 2013 at 10:57 am

      It’s weird to me that something like this is so hard to find! I’m hoping that I can find it in a local store now that I know exactly what I’m looking for, just so I don’t have to remember to order ahead of time.

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