As part 3 of her mini-series on tracing and preserving a sewing pattern, today Sarvi is talking about Swedish tracing paper. Turns out, it’s not really Swedish!
What It Is
I tried to look this up online and couldn’t find much information about how this is manufactured, and didn’t want to hare off down an existential “What is paper, anyway?” lane, but it’s described on the label as a drapeable, sewable paper. It’s more translucent than freezer paper, despite being thicker. It has lots of jumbled little fibers like non-woven interfacing does, but it’s not as fluid or drapey as an interfacing this thin would be. It has quite a lot of ‘tooth’ and grabs fabric a bit like felt does. It comes in rolls.
Swedish tracing paper is marketed as being similar to muslin in the sense that you can baste it together and mark any changes you want to make on it with a pencil. For a toddler who’s still measuring like a perfect cylinder with a 20 inch chest, waist, and hip, that’s not so important, but for an older child wearing a fitted style like the Fairy Tale Dress, it’s very useful to be able to easily mark anything you want to adjust. If you decide to use it for yourself, you may find the paperiness works against you, and the drape of interfacing or actual muslin gives you a better sense of how your fabric will hang.
How to Use It
Pretty much just like freezer paper, you lay out your pattern on a smooth surface, and position the tracing paper over it. You can see through it very easily and there is no need to tape it to a window to use as a back light. It has less of a tendency to curl up than freezer paper does, so you probably won’t need a ton of weights to hold it flat, but a few to keep it from shifting if you brush it by mistake will be useful.
How to Mark It
Swedish tracing paper takes pencil marks beautifully, just like any paper. The tip of the pencil (unless perhaps very sharp and catching it at a bad angle) doesn’t snag on the little fibers as can sometimes happen with interfacing. It also shows the marks from a chalk pencil really nicely.
Unlike freezer paper, Swedish tracing paper (which our resident expert on all things Swedish, Lotta “Lattemama”, informs me has nothing to do with Sweden) will not adhere to the fabric, so you’ll need to use weights, pins, or both, and mark around the edges of piece to transfer to your fabric, before cutting out with shears. You can then neatly file away your new single-size master pattern.
Where to Find It
I bought mine online, but check your local fabric and craft shops. It’s more expensive than freezer paper, but it has different properties which might make it a better choice for specific projects. I didn’t like the way freezer paper interacted with the very heavy, fuzzy wool I used for my kid’s School Days Coat, but the Swedish tracing paper grabs it a bit, and has a hint of rigidity which makes it easy to make a nice, crisp chalk mark when tracing off the outline onto the fashion fabric.
Next: Carbon paper