Sewing patterns from the Big Four commercial pattern companies –Butterick, McCalls, Simplicity, and Vogue– can be pricey if you buy them at regular prices. (Yes, I just bought a Vogue pattern the other day that has a sticker price of $27.50! Yikes!)
If there’s a Joann near you, you’re in luck! Because these patterns regularly go on sale for a smidgen of the suggested retail price on the pattern envelope. For example, Simplicity patterns can typically be had for 99 cents; Butterick and McCalls for $1.99; and Vogue for $4.99!
So hold out for a sale, and then you can take the money you save and buy some beautiful fabric instead!
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Benefits of Duplicating Your Sewing Pattern
Once you’ve purchased your sewing pattern, you may want to preserve it for various reasons, such as…
- You’re not a selfish seamstress like me, and you want to make the garment for someone else who is a different size or shape than you.
- Your layout requires you to cut a particular pattern piece more than once.
- You want to try your hand at changing or adding style details to your pattern but keep the original intact.
- You’re working with silky or slippery fabric that refuses to stay in place. So you need an expanded pattern that will allow you to lay and cut out in a single layer.
- You want to make basic alterations (highly recommended!).
Yes, there are so many reasons why you might need to duplicate a pattern.
Plus, can I tell you a secret?!
I find pattern duplication meditative. I know. Call me crazy!
Pro tip: You don’t have to duplicate every pattern — only the ones you are hoping will become a tried and true (TNT) favorite!
Supplies You’ll Need
Anyhoo, if I’ve convinced you that making a duplicate copy of your sewing pattern is worthwhile, then let’s gather the necessary tools…
- 2×18 grid ruler
- 1×6 grid ruler (optional)
- Mechanical pencil or sharp #2 pencil and sharpener
- Paper scissors
- Removable Scotch Tape
- Tissue Paper, Reynolds Freezer Paper Plastic Coated, or Pellon Tru Grid
Tissue paper (yes, the kind you stuff in gift bags) and freezer paper are readily available. The white and yellow tissue paper is just sheer enough to see through for easy tracing.
Pellon Tru Grid looks like non woven sew-in interfacing to me, but with 1 inch grid marks.
Some recommend Swedish Tracing Paper, but I absolutely loathe the texture! I threw it out!
And others recommend medical exam paper. But I found that because it is soooo damn thin that it annoyingly glued itself to my cutting mat! And while I love the process of sewing, I have zero love for fighting with tissue paper! I threw this out too!
How to Duplicate a Sewing Pattern
Duplicating a sewing pattern is ridiculously easy and doesn’t have to take too much time.
- Begin by pressing your pattern piece with a dry iron until it is smooth and free of wrinkles and creases.
- If your tracing surface is any other colour but white, place a plain, white sheet of paper under the pattern tissue. This will make it easier for you to see it under the tracing paper.
- Secure the pattern piece to your cutting surface using removable tape. This will make sure that it stays put so you can trace an accurate copy.
- With your 2×18 grid ruler, trace the grain line.
- Then, trace all vertical and horizontal lines with your 2×18 grid ruler.
- Next, trace the curved areas. You can use the short end of your 2×18 grid ruler. But I really like using my 1×6” grid ruler for this. Just draw a series of dashes about a ½ inch apart along the entire curve.
- Now trace off all the internal markings, such as grain lines, notches, darts, pockets, etc.
Finally, you’d be surprise how quickly you forget what is what. So to keep things straight, I recommend that you make the following notations on your pattern copy:
- The pattern company
- The pattern number
- The size you traced
- The total number of pattern pieces (1 of 4, 2 of 4, etc.)
- The seam and hem allowances
There, you’re done!
Now, that wasn’t so bad?!
Pro tip: Sometimes, the sewing pattern guide sheet will tell you to flip a pattern piece (like a sleeve) printed side down. Instead of doing that, you could create a duplicate of that pattern piece prior to laying out. But DO make sure to flip the pattern piece before you cut out your copy!
Expanded Sewing Patterns
I’ve read that in the garment industry, they do not layout and cut pattern pieces on the fold. All pattern pieces are cut in a single layer.
And for the home sewer, there are definitely instances where we can also benefit from using an expanded pattern, such as…
- when we are dealing with slippery fabrics like knits, chiffon, and charmeuse
- when working with stripes, plaids, or large prints
- when we are cutting certain garments on the bias
And guess what?!
Making an expanded pattern is super easy!
Option #1: Place two layers of tracing paper together, and then cut out the pattern pieces at the same time. This will ensure that we get both left and a right pattern pieces.
Option #2: Fold the paper we are copying the pattern piece to in half. then, place the pattern piece on the fold and trace around the cutting line. Cut out and open. We now have a beautiful expanded pattern.
Now, how easy was that?!
We now know that there are many reasons why we might want to take the time to duplicate our commercial sewing patterns and the easiest way to do so.
We’ve also learned about the uses of an expanded pattern piece and how easy it is to create one.
Next up, let’s tackle tissue paper patterns’ cool cousin, PDF sewing patterns.
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