Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Without A Trace (Cutting Edge)

A while ago, a few posts about pattern cutting vs. pattern tracing were making the rounds on the blogs.

The subject drew an impassioned response from a very engaged craft-force. Even I, a new sewist who was even newer then, had a strong perspective, that being: hell can freeze over I'm not freakin' tracing my patterns. That's what the lines and scissors are for!

Well, friends, in eat make my shirt mode, I am here to tell you that I have begun to trace patterns. Like all of them.

Why? (you may ask...)

Well, I wrecked a pattern.

It was just one - it was after extensive bust alterations - but that was enough. Hours of my life were gone with no recourse. I mean, my recourse is to re-purchase the pattern. Like I'm going to do that before it goes on sale again.

Yes, I realize making massive changes (when one doesn't know what she's doing) on a flimsy piece of tissue is perhaps ill-advised. But if it had worked, I can assure you we wouldn't be having this conversation. I mean diatribe.

Moreover, now that I'm working on the Built By Wendy Dresses book, the forced habit is coming in handy. You have to trace those base patterns (slopers) and their numerous, self-chosen seam allowances, or you can't remake them in their variations.

I don't trace because it is the eco-conscious, archive-friendly, decent thing to do. I do it because the alternative is, potentially, a deal breaker.

Call me principled.


  1. I totally chopped up a maxi dress pattern last year and pretty much trace now too. I bought another pattern but never made it up becuase I was so mad at it and my stupid boobs for being so big. LOL!

  2. it took me forever to cut out a pattern...i totally need to set up a small sewing area/table if i want to do more projects this summer!

  3. That is exactly how I started tracing patterns. I altered something that I was so sure would work, and it came out looking like a garment made for a misshapen alien and I had no way to get back to the original. Now I trace. And I number and date the iterations until I figure out what I am doing.

    Just call me neurotic.

  4. It is a choice how to use the pattern to its best ability. I usually cut it at a bigger size but tack the material on the size I'm using or use tailor's chalk and am really careful on unpicking but that's only because I can be too sloppy when tracing.

    I must try the tracing thing properly and see how I get on x

  5. Heather: I know - it's like the project becomes totally unpalatable!

    Wendy: I should use that as my blog motto!!

    Sophie: I'm lucky I have a dining room table. Cutting is the most challenging thing, in some ways. Don't want to wreck a gorgeous project before it starts!

    Mardel: Ah, the misshapen alien... Since I've come to realize that the tissue fit is essentially meaningless for my body, I'm going to (maybe) try a muslin with my heap of a hacked at pattern. Or not.

    We all have our good strategies, Kate. Do what works for yoU!