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Tracing patterns – continued

March 5, 2010

Yesterday, I explained who should trace their patterns, which is those folks who will want to re-use them for a variety of sizes. The why is that if you are cutting out a size small dress or item, but want to re-use the pattern for a larger pattern, those cutting lines have now been cut away.

Also, if you use a pattern so many times that you will tear up the tissue, you may want to trace/copy by tracing with a permanent marker onto muslin to give yourself a permanent pattern. When I do this, I copy the entire pattern, including all sizes, and re-use the muslin as I would use the tissue pattern. This is because tracing over and over the tissue can wear it out. A lady at the fabric store near the studio suggested putting tape along the cutting lines, so you don’t do too much damage when you trace (I iron my patterns, so this won’t work for me).

Now that we have covered the who and why, let’s get on to tracing patterns. When you trace a pattern, you want to secure the pattern to the fabric. When I was growing up sewing, my teacher taught me to trace to one side of the fabric, and then transfer those markings to the other side. We used a tracing paper that was a lot like mimeograph paper, so it had waxy color on one side. Today, there are quite a few options. Which brings me to what should be a #1 question for you. “What’s the best tracing paper to use?”  Having used whatever is at hand for over 30 years, I asked the ladies at the fabric store, who asked, ” Is there more than one kind?”

I proceeded to their notions section, where there were 3 different kinds of tracing paper. I bought some of each, and will let you know about each.

First, there was Singer. It is displayed with the  “Project Runway” products (hehe), hence one might deduce that it’s on the shelf to attract people who have very little sewing experience, but have been inspired by A television reality show, to go forth and grace the world with their AMAZING designing ability (thought they may have no sewing ability). Pass on the “Project Runway” toys. This tracing medium barely showed up on the fabric folks.It is recommended to be used on the wrong side of the fabric, but I tried it on both sides, with similar results. Here is what it looked like:

It would be the lower of the two lines shown here. The faintest line I got of all 3 tracing papers.  Remember, that you are going to trace your entire pattern, and all of your instructional notations with this, so you need to be able to see it clearly enough to cut and assemble with these markings.

Next, Was the DMC embroidery tracing paper. It left a line as above the Singer paper in the photo above. Very poor quality. Now remember, that both of these recommend use on the wrong side of the fabric, which you are not seeing here. The result of doing that left no trace, hence I have choosen the color/paper that gave any sign of having been used. Both of the above mentioned papers are waxy tracing papers. I have bought Clover also, and once it didn’t have any pigment to trace off! I thought that maybe the machines ran out of wax, and the person running the machine didn’t realize it right away. Had I written to Clover, they would probably have sent a replacement, but I don’t recommend their Paper either, as I get results very similar to above.

So, let’s go on to Waxless tracing paper. It’s more like chalk. It does brush off, but by then, I”m finished with it. I had great success with Dritz wax-free tracing paper. It’s sold as a package, and the sheets are half as wide as the other sheets, which may appear to be cheap, but remember, it’s the one that worked. Besides that, the chalk is on both sides of the paper, making it possible to position it between the layers of fabric, and get both sides at once. I loved it! The narrower size made it easy to position and re-position it, and the lines were clear and easy to follow.

Here is what Dritz wax-free tracing paper did, and how I used it.

The lines were clear on both sides of the fabric. You don’t need to trace onto the right and the wrong side of fabric, but I wanted you to see how clear it showed up!

This is a big difference, and a similar price. The choice for me now is Dritz. Always.

Here, you can see it’s placed between the layers, which is a little hard around the fold.

I used to pin my pattern down to trace, now, I use weights, and recommend that you try this also. It eliminates that dread of pinning, unpinning segments to trace, re-pinning, cutting, unpinning, assembling and pinning, then sewing. Now, I just pin to assemble;0) Very simple.

Gotta go for now. More later on tracing, cutting, and of course, SEWING!!!

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