Vintage Sewing

Pattern Tracing, Act 1, Scene 1: The Second Grade

January 27, 2010

I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid I never followed instructions, I’m pretty sure “I’m sure this will work better” was my motto. And then, as it is now, doesn’t really ever work for me the way I think it will, yest I still do it.
You are correct, I made my first attempt at grading! Well, actually, step one, tracing. Apparently I need to go back to 2nd grade.

Pattern Tracing Experiment: Act 1, Scene 1
Aim: To accurately transfer a vintage pattern to a new pattern that can be altered without harming the original
Hypothesis (optional): That I am a bitchin’ pattern maker and can do this in a day
Equipment: Tracing Paper, Pen, Rulers, Endless amounts of patience
Procedure:
1. Use a tracing paper that you can see through, you can scan or retrace on sturdier paper later
Inner Child: Laahame. I say use brown paper, it’s A; Cheaper, and B: sturdy and you can use it to make everything off of! Two birds with one stone.
2. Trace the pattern, carefully, recording all notations on the original pattern. 
Inner child: Whaaaat! Do you know how long that is going to take! Skip it, you should do a “dry run” and not put the marking in. You can always fill it in later. Dude, I should totally write instructions, move over, give me a crayon. 
Safety/Risks: Possible alcoholism by end of session.
Results: A completely unusable pattern for regrading. (No crayons were harmed in this experiment.)
Conclusion:  In conclusion I turned my frown upside down and used it to make a muslin cut out. I’m sure my inner child was planning that all along.I vow to never make short cuts again (lie), and will be purchasing tracing paper tout de suite! I did however use it to sew a muslin of the dress, because I was really curious to see what the finished project would look like.


  1. I've used vellum to trace a pattern off. You can buy it in art supply stores in different weights from a roll or bolt. I got a lesser weight, and not only did it work perfectly, I've used it three times now–it's much sturdier than tracing paper or tissue paper. From what I remember, it was about a $1 a foot or a yard.

  2. "I'll put the markings on later" – boy, that's my motto. And then I forget and use the pattern a second time completely forgetting what I did the first time and it turns out like poo. I feel ya! But the muslin looks lovely!

  3. I had to buy vellum for a class…I don't know where you bought yours laurie, but mine was 'SPENSIVE. I use a bolt of that paper they use in doctors offices for the beds. You can buy em online and they last forever. Back in the day, ladies used the newspaper.

  4. The heavier weights were more costly, they were pretty expensive. But I had them pull each roll out and I felt it–the lighter weight was perfect. I just checked the price–it was $1 a foot, which I think is really reasonable for something that is going to stand up to use after use, and that was easy to see through, easy to trace by putting the pattern piece underneath it. I got it at a run of the mill art supply store that had a nice selection of paper and architectural drafting things.

  5. You are cracking me up!! Your posts are so hilarious. My vintage sewing, I just use the pattern as is. They really are super thin, but I just forge ahead and pin in straight to the fabric! Shame on me!

    Linda

  6. I used plain old waxed paper for my first tracings. I use a sharpie for marking. Just beware of smears before the ink is dry.

    I do that because the waxed paper is cheap, reasonably strong, and see-through. The downside is taping pieces together so that they'll cover larger pattern pieces.

    I then slit the pieces, spread them apart the required distance, and either trace a new pattern or tape in a new panel.

    My personal motto, "How hard could this be?" has gotten me into more trouble…

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