May 10, 2013

Tracing, Cutting & Using Patterns

Now that I can figure out what pattern size to use, the next step is to cut the pattern out. My personal preference is to Not cut the purchased pattern itself but to trace it onto something else and cut that instead. Recently I have been using regular old tissue paper. The type you can pick up at the dollar store for stuffing gift bags.

To trace the pattern here is all that I need:

The purchased pattern
Some tissue paper
Stick glue
A pencil
I like the stick glue to hold the tissue paper pieces together. I used to use tape but I kept running out and was always in need of more. The stick glue seems to really last a long time. It also works well as a weight to hold the pattern (and tissue paper) flat. I love multipurpose stuff. :)
So, just attach as many pieces of tissue paper together until you have a piece that will cover the pattern that you want to trace. Lay the tissue over the pattern, place miscellaneous objects on top to keep everything from shifting around (actual pattern weights are the best but use whatever you have). Trace your pattern pieces and cut out on the line that you traced. Now you have a tissue pattern that you can use, change, etc. 
Make sure to trace all markings onto your tissue paper, otherwise you will have trouble later. I also take the opportunity to write the pattern name, number, size and a description of what the piece is. Is it the front bodice, back bodice, sleeve? Am I to cut two? Cut on the fold? What are the seam allowances? Make sure to mark all of this, so you know what it's for later.
I'll skip over the boring part about laying out the pattern onto your fabric and just move ahead to the cutting part. I will take a moment to mention that you will want to pin your pattern to the wrong side of the fabric so that any future marking will not be on the outside (the pretty part you want people to see) of your fabric.
Now, moving on. I pin my newly traced tissue pattern right to the fabric to keep it from shifting or moving while I cut it out. A lot of pieces that you will use are cut on the fold or on a double thickness of fabric, so make sure you pin through all layers that you want to cut.

The only other item of interest in the pattern transferring would be any dots, marks, darts or gores that are used to identify start/stop positions (like the slit of a skirt) or to fold out extra fabric (such as at the waist of a skirt). To transfer those marking to my fabric, I do it this way:

For any start/stop points or dart points, I make a hole in the paper, marking directly onto the fabric itself, at the point of the mark or dart. For general marks, that's all there is but for darts, keep reading.

Once I mark the point, I move to the edge and mark the fabric there as well.

Then I remove the tissue paper pattern, I use a straight edge (ruler) to join the marks. For the skirt in this example, I then have to turn the fabric and mark the dart on the other side. A regular pencil works fine for light colored fabrics.
For dark colored fabrics, where a pencil wouldn't show up, a yellow colored pencil works great. There are also special dressmakers pencils available at local and on-line retailers.
That's all there is. Easy as pie!
If you have any tips on this topic, I'd love to know.
Feel free to comment and share them with me.