Using sewing patterns can offer you access to numerous projects, as well as a jumping off place for your own alterations. This is a guide about tips for using sewing patterns.
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Have a sewing pattern that you use over and over? Apply a fusible interfacing to the pattern and it will last much longer.
By Mike from Cabot, VT
I use leftover holiday wrapping paper all year long in my sewing room. I hate working with flimsy tissue paper patterns so I lay them out on the white back of the wrapping paper and transfer them with a Sharpie (it bleeds through the tissue). The new paper patterns are easier to fold and store and last through many more foldings than tissue. And I don't have to pay for special pattern tracing paper!
If you're like me, you probably have a few patterns that you use over and over, til they fall apart. I solved the problem by using clear contact paper. Cut pattern apart. Place contact paper with backing side UP. Peel enough of backing off to place pattern piece on it. Carefully place pattern piece on contact paper. Can be either side up, sometimes I cover both sides, if it's a real favorite! Patterns will last a long time, and won't rip or wear out so fast.
By Craftynanny from Hartwick, NY
I was just thrilled when I ran across this source on the web! For those of you who are sick and tired of Simplicity and McCalls patterns, here's a link to an independent pattern maker. Sew something well-fitting and unusual!
By Cyinda from near Seattle
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Tips and ideas for using sewing patterns.
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Here are questions related to Tips for Using Sewing Patterns.
Is anyone aware of any groups for trading, exchanging, or loaning sewing patterns? I've just returned to sewing after a 20 year hiatus and I can't believe how expensive patterns are now!
By mormor from Des Moines, IA
By nhe  02/25/2014
Another good source for patterns, particularly craft or costume patterns, is thrift stores. Look for a section with fabric remnants, notions, craft supplies, and usually there is also a supply of patterns for 25 or 50 cents. This applies usually to the smaller nonprofit stores (I've never seen patterns at Goodwill). Some will be cut into but many will be completely untouched (apparently people have been collecting and never getting around to using patterns for years.
And, of course, some estate sales will have vintage or recent patterns. Check the ad and it will usually note if the deceased was a sewing enthusiast.
Advice for using sewing patterns again for different sizes.
By Laura in NH
I also trace the pattern onto a piece of lightweight pelon then bond it to a lightweight light colored cotton material and transfer lines and markings to the cotton with a thin sharpie marker. It makes for a much sturdier pattern than you can use over and over without tearing it up. I also bond lightweight pellon to all of the pattern pieces that I'm going to use more than once just to keep them sturdy.
Overlap your paper (tissue), put the strip of glue between them and iron them together then trace the bigger pattern without having pieces of it. We have a old table which has 3 leaves in, so to make it smooth I put a BIG piece of tag board or poster board on it, and hide it behind a china cabinet when not in use.
For what to trace with, I use a Sharpie fine point permanent marker. Yes it does go through some, yet if you keep the marker moving it won't be that bad. It's going slow or leaving it in one area too long that will really leave the marks. Practice first with tissue paper over an open part of pattern to see what will happen. If you don't care for it - use a DARK PENCIL.
When the tracing of the lines, dots, arrows, diamonds, etc., (all very important things) are in their places. REMOVE your traced pattern, put it over a sheet of paper (which will be thrown away) and with marker, write the necessary things: Pattern name and #, size, what it is, front, back and so on.
I have done this for 25 + years and it works great. I also use a 6"x9" white envelop to hold each pattern size individually. Put the information on front with a picture, if possibe. I've been using the same ones for my Grandchildren now as I used for my own kids!
Hope this is of help to you
Feel free to share your ideas below.
By MagnoliaSouth  09/04/2013
I'm really surprised that no one has mentioned tracing paper and a tracing wheel. Did I miss it somehow? Using the original pattern, gently pin your pattern to the fabric (inside the areas you'll need to trace). Place a strip (I cut mine into long strips) of washable tracing paper in between them, face down, between the pattern and the fabric. Then you use your wheel to go over the proper pattern lines.
My grandmother used one and they taught that in my home-ec class back in '82. Do they even have home-ec anymore? LOL! I know they still have tracing paper and pattern wheels because I saw them just the other day.
In my opinion it's the most economical and precise way of doing it. Works like a charm!