Oliver + S

How I trace a pattern

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    BeckyinFL @BeckyinFL

    There are always many ways to do the same thing, but I am so pleased with the method of tracing O+S patterns that has “evolved” around here that I wanted to share. I hope it may make this process a little easier for someone.

    First, I have both digital and paper O+S patterns, and while there are advantages to both, I favor the paper for its lack of bulk. That sounds contrary, but I do hate the great number of pages resulting when I print a digital pattern on my home printer. I like having one big sheet of all the pattern pieces that I can trace off only what I need. I like that I can iron that big pattern sheet to make it smooth for tracing, and I like that I can fold it back up just as it was originally if I am careful to observe how it was folded when I open it up the first time.

    (Yes, I could take my digital pattern to a service bureau and have a large sheet printed, but that would add substantially to the cost, and the paper, being regular printer paper, is likely to be bulkier than a printed pattern sheet. Though, admittedly, I haven’t tried this.)

    My method is really simple. Basically, I drape the pressed pattern sheet over my ironing board and move it around until the piece I want to trace is on the flat surface. Then I lay a piece of light to medium weight non-woven interfacing over that area, secure it to the pattern sheet with 2 tabs of Scotch tape (easily removed afterward) somewhere in the margin, and trace the lines with a ballpoint pen. When I’ve traced one pattern piece, I re-position the pattern sheet and interfacing to trace the next piece, etc. If I make a mistake, I just mark a small “x” on that line and ignore it thereafter.

    I try to conserve the interfacing by tracing the pieces close together, but I leave enough space between that I can cut them apart and still have a small margin around each. Actual tracing tissue or paper can be used, of course, but the interfacing is available cheaply at my local Walmart, and it works extremely well.

    Some people say they can’t trace accurately. For straight lines, I use a ruler, and for curved lines I use a technique of “sketching” a bit of the line at a time. This really works. You can move the pen back and forth over the pattern line in the air above it, about an inch at a time. When your air movements seem right, bring the pen down to the interfacing. Trace just that inch with a quick movement. Then re-position your hand and repeat. Eventually you’ll get good at this. Sometimes my hand is steady enough to simply draw along the line, but I usually use this sketchy method. The result is a line made of individual one inch (approximately) dashes. When viewed together, an accurate line appears.

    I have gone into such a detailed discussion here because so many people say they can’t trace accurately. It’s only a matter of technique and training your hand with practice.

    To bring my ironing board up to a comfortable height, I set each bottom cross-piece on a short board. I trace a few pieces, then I cut them out roughly and bring them to my comfortable recliner chair to trim to the line with scissors. I can get an entire pattern traced during one television program with what seems like very little effort.

    The interfacing patterns fold up into a very small bundle. When finished with a pattern, I refold the paper pattern and put it back into its envelope. I fold up my bundle of traced interfacing pieces and put this together with the pattern into a labeled 9 x 12 manila envelope. I store these together in a box.

    If you are having trouble tracing patterns, give this a try. I hope it may help the process become easy for you, too.

    Sarvi @Sarvi

    Great tip to use the ironing board! Have a peek at the comments section here: http://oliverands.com/community/blog/2014/03/how-to-preserve-a-pattern-introduction.html

    People mention using everything from Canson tracing paper to garbage bags! Sewists are some of the most inventive folk — seems there are little mini-hacks that people come up with on each project to solve tricky issues that come from their project’s unique combination of fabrics, patterns, tools, and workspace.

    BeckyinFL @BeckyinFL

    “seems there are little mini-hacks that people come up with on each project to solve tricky issues that come from their project’s unique combination of fabrics, patterns, tools, and workspace.”

    Well put!

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