How to Duplicate Your Sewing Patterns

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Hey, you!

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 on sale the other day for $5.99 that has a sticker price of $27.50! Yikes!

So don’t!

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, Butterick and McCalls patterns can typically be had for $1.99 and Vogue for $5.99!

New Look and Burda patterns rarely go on sale, but when they do, they are usually $2.49.

So hold out for a sale, and then you can take the money you save and buy some beautiful fabric instead!

NOTE: If you’re ready to begin this journey and would like to buy my recommended tools and supplies, please click HERE!

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 fit 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!

Sew easy 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…

Tissue paper (yes, the kind you stuff in gift bags) is readily available. The white and yellow tissue paper is just sheer enough to see through for easy tracing.

Pellon 810 Tru Grid looks like a sheer, non woven sew-in interfacing to me, but with 1-inch grid marks.

And Pellon 830 Easy Pattern Paper is white with no grid marks. I prefer this most of all!

Some recommend Swedish Tracing Paper, but I absolutely loathe the texture! I had a large roll and donated it to the Goodwill. For me it was unbearable!

And others recommend medical exam paper. But I found it soooo darn thin that it annoyingly glues itself to my cutting mat! And while I love the process of sewing, I have zero love for fighting with tissue paper! I donated a large roll of this too!

How to Duplicate a Sewing Pattern

Duplicating a sewing pattern is ridiculously easy and doesn’t have to take too much time.

  1. Begin by ironing your tissue pattern with a DRY iron on WOOL setting. Iron until it is smooth and free of wrinkles and creases!
  2. 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.
  3. Secure the pattern piece to your cutting surface using a removable tape. (Alternatively, you could place it on top of the tracing paper and then secure it. You choose.) This will make sure that it stays put so you can trace an accurate copy.
  4. With your 2×18 grid ruler, trace the grain line.
  5. Then, trace all vertical and horizontal lines with your 2×18 grid ruler.
  6. Next, trace the curved areas. You can use the short end of your 2×18 grid ruler. You can also use a seam gauge.
  7. Now trace off all the internal markings, such as grain lines, notches, darts, pockets, etc.

duplicating-tracing-pattern-piece

Finally, 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 pattern piece number (1, 2, 3, etc)
  • The seam and hem allowances if applicable

You’d be surprised how quickly you forget what is what!

traced-sewing-pattern-piece-with-notations

There, you’re done!

Now, that wasn’t so bad?!

Sew easy tip: Sometimes, the cutting and layout section on 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 trace a copy!

Expanded Sewing Patterns

Patterns designed for the home sewer with one half of the front and one half of the back. In others, if it is a dress pattern, you get the right front half and the right back half of the dress.

I read somewhere that in the garment industry, they do not layout and cut pattern pieces on the fold. Instead, They use expanded pattern pieces that are cut in a single layer; this increases their ability to mass produce efficiently.

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 separate layers of tracing paper together, and then cut out the pattern pieces at the same time. This will give both a left and a right pattern piece. You can abut them when you lay them out.

Option #2:  Fold the tracing paper in half; place the pattern piece on the fold; and then trace around the cutting line. Cut out and open your expanded pattern piece.

Here’s instructions for Option #2…

First, cut a length of tracing paper that is wide enough and long enough for the pattern piece you wish to duplicate…

tracing-paper-wide-and-long-enough-fold-demonstrated

Second,  align the pattern piece along the fold of the tracing paper and cut it out…

sewing-pattern-piece-duplicated

And voilà! You have an expanded pattern!

voila-expanded-sewing-pattern-piece

Now, all you have to do is transfer your pattern registration markings!

Now, how easy was that?!

The End

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.

And remember…

Life is the ultimate red carpet event. Dress for it!

RELATED: Click HERE to learn everything you need to know about sewing patterns!

RELATED: Click HERE if you’re ready to unleash your dressmaking super powers and learn how to sew a simple dress! Warning: This is a MEGA 5-part series!

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