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How to trace patterns

How to trace patterns

This article was written by Pattterntrace, the UK manufacturers and retailers of Swedish tracing paper. 

Before we jump straight into how to trace patterns, lets look at the why. Why would you want to trace off your sewing patterns instead of just cutting the right size and sewing? Why should you take the extra time to trace it off, leaving the original intact? Read on to find out….

There are several reasons why pattern tracing can be beneficial:

You can make alterations.

Maybe you don’t like the neckline and want to change it. Perhaps you need the legs a little longer, to blend between 2 sizes or to make a full bust adjustment. These things are much easier to do on the traced pattern rather than risking damaging your original pattern.


You can make the pattern in several sizes.

You might want to sew it for yourself and a friend in 2 different sizes. Your weight may fluctuate so you want to option to make a larger or smaller version in the future. Or you could be making a children’s pattern which you’d like to remake in the future when they grow. By preserving the original you keep all these options open.

The pattern pieces may be layered


Some sewing patterns in magazines or books have the different pattern pieces printed on top of each other to save on space. So, tracing the pieces you want from the original pattern sheet is a necessity.


To check fit/make a toile

If you use Swedish tracing paper to trace your patterns it is sewable, it feels more like a light interfacing than paper. So, it can be sewn together then worn as a toile to help you check fit before cutting into your fabric.

How to use Patterntrace

How to trace patterns

How to trace sewing patterns

Before you start tracing you need to get a few things together:

Your tracing paper (of course we recommend Patterntrace Swedish tracing Paper!)

A pencil

A curved ruler is helpful if you have one, a straight ruler often comes in handy too

A coloured felt tip pen or highlighter if using multiple size patterns printed in black ink

Paper scissors


Step 1

Lay out your original pattern on a flat surface. If there are a lot of folds and creases you can safely press it using a dry iron on a low heat. If your pattern has several sizes and is printed in black ink use your felt tip pen to draw over the size you want to trace so it stands out from the others. If you have a colour pattern and each size is in a different colour you can skip this stage.

How to use Swedish tracing paper

Step 2

Lay your tracing paper over your pattern, and hold into place using pattern weights or even tins of beans! Just something heavy that will stop it from moving as you trace.

Pattern tracing paper

Step 3

Using the pencil, and the ruler to assist if you have one, trace over the lines for the size of the pattern that you want. Make sure you transfer across all the pattern markings and pattern information over to your traced pattern including the grainline. Don’t forget to include the pattern name and size as well.

Methods for tracing a sewing pattern

Step 4

Cut out your pattern pieces and now they are ready to use. Don’t forget if you’ve used our Swedish tracing paper you can sew the pieces into a wearable toile to check the fit is right.

How to store sewing patterns


We all know it’s hard enough to get the original pattern back into the pattern envelope let alone squeezing in the traced version too!  So how do you store your traced pattern? We’ve designed pattern storage envelopes which are gusseted so can expand to store both the original and traced pattern, plus they have space for pattern notes on the front.

Get a 10% discount on all orders from Patterntrace with code: sewingdirectory

Visit www.patterntrace.com to place your order.