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Why (and How) to Trace Your Sewing Pattern for Your Iowa City Sewing Class

Hi friends! If you’ve ever taken an Iowa City sewing class with us at Home Ec., you might have noticed some seemingly pesky advice in the small print: “We recommend using Red Dot Tracing Cloth for tracing your size of the pattern.”

Lots of people skip this step – and we get it! There’s already enough to do before you can put your foot to the pedal and get to sewing. Why add yet another potentially time-consuming step? The good news is that you absolutely do not need to do this. But there are a few reasons we recommend it.

Plus, as you’ll see in the resources section at the bottom of this blog, it’s actually a lot easier than you might think.

Tracing Your Sewing Pattern Lets You Use Your Pattern Again and Again

When you buy a sewing pattern, it will generally include a range of sizes. One option is to find your size and cut out the pieces for that size. This is certainly the fasted and easiest option, but it also means that if the size doesn’t turn out to be right, or you want to make the pattern in another size for someone else, you’ll have to repurchase the pattern in order to get that other size.

The alternative is to trace your pattern in the size you want to make. After it’s traced, you cut the pattern out of the tracing cloth. You can then use that tracing cloth to cut out the pieces for your pattern and your pattern paper remains intact.

Tracing Your Sewing Pattern Allows You to Customize Your Size

If you’re not a straight size, you’ll need to grade between patterns – and that can be a lot easier to do on tracing cloth. For example, if you measure yourself for a shirt pattern and every measurement aligns with a size 16, you’ll likely want a straight size 16.

But what if everything measures for a size 16 except your chest, which aligns with a size 18? Instead of making it all in a size 18, or making a size 16 and suffering through an uncomfortably tight chest, you can grade the pattern to have more room in the chest. This is easier to do with tracing cloth than by simply cutting out the pattern.

This is also something that we can help you figure out, so don’t hesitate to ask! If you’re working to adjust your size for an upcoming class with us, we can help you through the process. If you want to learn more about how to trace and cut out patterns for your own projects, ask us about our private lessons.

Tracing a Sewing Pattern is Easier Than You Might Think

There are two main reasons people choose not to trace their sewing pattern:

  1. They’re in a hurry to get sewing
  2. They think it’s too complicated

The truth is that while it does take time, it’s actually a fairly simply process. There are some great tutorials online. We love this pattern-tracing tutorial from Made by Rae. While we generally recommend Red Dot tracing cloth, she uses Swedish tracing paper or Pellon 830. A lot of different materials can be used – we’ve heard of folks using everything from freezer paper to medical exam tissue.

Our reasons for choosing Red Dot are numerous:

  • It features a steady 1-inch graft that simplifies the process of altering patterns
  • It’s stable in all directions
  • It’s lightweight enough to allow for excellent drape – which makes it easier for you to imagine how the finished garment would look on your body

It can also be used for other projects. In this red dot tutorial, you can see how it’s used for rug hooking patterns.

If you’re signed up for an Iowa City sewing class at Home Ec. Workshop, you can stop by any time the shop is open and we can help you get the right fabric, notions, and tracing cloth. We’re also happy to get you started in tracing your pattern so you can get your fabric washed, cut, and ready to go for your class. We can’t wait to see you!

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