Swedish tracing paper is a wonderful material for copying pattern pieces. Although it is called “paper,” it is actually a nonwoven interfacing with a smooth enough finish to write on. There are many great reasons to work with a copy of your pattern made from this material rather than using the original pattern itself, and I covered them in a previous post.
Today, I’m offering up a tutorial on how to use this wonder sewing notion.
❦ Pattern of choice
❦ Swedish tracing paper, available from many online retailers
❦ Tape. I’ve read that paper medical tape works well on Swedish tracing paper, but I haven’t bought any yet, so I use regular cellophane tape.
❦ Optional but helpful: design ruler (also sometimes referred to as a French curve)
1. Cut out all your pattern pieces and iron on low without steam to remove wrinkles as you would normally do. Swedish tracing paper comes on a roll, so it doesn’t generally have wrinkles, but this may depend on how carefully your supplier prepared it for shipping.
2. Tape a pattern piece to your work table, keeping the tape outside all the pattern lines, if possible, so the tape can be removed later without damaging the pattern. If you don’t tape the pattern down, it will shift during tracing. Guaranteed.
3. Cut out a piece of Swedish tracing paper a little larger than your pattern. Tape it to your work surface over your pattern without getting tape on the underlying pattern tissue. Since Swedish tracing paper comes on a roll, it has a tendency to curl. It works a little better if you face the curl down when you tape it. The tape will come right off the Swedish tracing paper later.
4. Use a good old No. 2 pencil to trace your pattern, including all lines and markings. (I’ve had good success doing this freehand, but see Step 5 for another option.) Also, write down all pattern information such as company, number, size you are tracing and hem allowance.
5. If freehand is challenging or you’d like to ensure smoother lines, use a design ruler. It has an edge for straight lines and another for curved. The curved edge is created in such a way that it will fit a variety of curves, depending on which part of the curved edge you use. Just move the curved edge around until you find an area that lines up with the curve you are trying to trace. You won’t always find a perfect match, but since this tool is used by pattern drafters, you often will. For those lines that don’t have a perfect match on your design ruler, you will have to freehand.
6. Pull the tape off the Swedish tracing paper. It comes off easily and can even be saved for use on the next pattern piece. Carefully pull up the original pattern and cut off the tape.
7. You now have a perfect copy of your pattern that is ready to use for cutting out your material. If you make a muslin to check fit, any changes you need to make to the pattern are easy to do — and undo — with the Swedish tracing paper copy. Your original pattern pieces are left intact. This is especially helpful for:
❦ Vintage patterns, since they cannot easily be replaced;
❦ Alterations you haven’t done before, since they may take more than one attempt to perfect; and
❦ Multi-size patterns, since it isn’t always easy to determine which size to use.
When you’re working on a copy, going back and tracing the original again is always an option.
For me, the next step in sewing is making a muslin to check the fit, which is always an adventure. I appreciate the flexibility to mess up — sometimes more than once! — that Swedish tracing paper gives me.
Tagged: design ruler, French curve, Swedish tracing paper
I so agree. Most of my patterns I use as is, but there are a few that are special and/or I use multiple times and the Swedish Tracing Paper is a great tool. On occasion, I also use freezer paper (for small pieces or applique) and lightly press the waxed side of the paper to the pattern. It removes easily.
Corinne, that’s an interesting trick about the freezer paper. I’ll have to look into that.
Thanks for this. I have been wondering about how to use this and if I should invest in some. I am hoping to lose weight in the next few months and being able to keep my patterns intact is important for me.
Mujerboricua, I hadn’t thought of that! Losing weight is another great reason to trace patterns. Good luck to you. I’m working on dropping some pounds myself.
Thanks for the info. I am a beginning seamster and I bought cool, rare, out of print patterns that I paid a lot for, but I was afraid to cut out. I can’t get any more if I use the wong size and I don’t want to ruin these patterns.
You are so welcome! Some people prefer to use certain kinds of less expensive actual paper, but I like the Swedish Tracing Paper. It’s easier to work with, and you can pin it together to get an idea of fit. Thank you for stopping by, and good luck with your sewing adventures!
How helpful and precisely the information I was looking for! Plus, the referral to the eBay seller offering STP with free shipping was equally invaluable. Now I’m curious to see if it can truly be used for muslin as I have also seen described elsewhere. Thanks!
From a fellow Elk Grove resident (Laguna side.) Small world huh.
I hope it works for you. I don’t really see it working as a muslin because it’s a little stiff. I am also on the Laguna side. Do you attend the ASG meetings at Raley’s? Good group. I haven’t been in a while because I’ve had conflicts, but I hope I can start going again soon.
If you want to trace a curve and don’t have a design ruler handy draw a series of dots following the curved on the tracing surface. You can follow up later to connect them or, if they’re close enough together, simply cut along them.
Now somebody tell me where I can get this stuff.
[…] I had sussed out which pieces I needed, I traced them using Swedish Tracing paper (Love this stuff!) and eventually made a wearable muslin since I didn’t want to mess up my […]
I saw this question in another sewing blog and there was no answer. I need to know which scissors are best for cutting Swedish pattern paper? Should I use regular scissors or is it safe to use my sewing scissors?
Eleanor, wow, good question. Since Swedish tracing paper is actually more like an interfacing than actual wood-pulp paper, I always use my good sewing scissors to cut it.
Thank you. very much ! I am a little attached to my sewing scissors. “people” keep stealing them.
[…] I now set about redrafting the pattern with adjustments – this time using Swedish tracing paper so I’d end up with a durable pattern. Working from my traced paper pattern, I added […]
[…] process/modifications Traced out the pattern in View A using Swedish Tracing Paper. It’s so much sturdier than tissue paper and allows room for mistakes and […]
Can the Swedish tracing paper be ironed? I like to fold my pattern pieces when I finish a project, but the tissue pieces definitely need to be pressed for the next project.
It can! It’s basically a nonwoven interfacing, so yes it can be ironed. But I find that it’s substantial enough that it doesn’t need to be pressed for the next use if it’s been folded neatly.
Thank you so much for all the wonderful information. I think back when I took sewing in school and I don’t ever remember this product being discussed. I would love to have this knowledge when my children were little.
You are so welcome! I’m glad this was helpful.
Thank you for being there to give a total example the purpose for this paper. I kept asking do I use the muslin or the swedish paper. The way the lady the introduced it talked about it seem to say swedish paper instead of the muslin to sew together and alter. Thank you
I think the Swedish tracing paper is too stiff to sew together and alter, but it makes a great pattern for testing and altering. Thank you for stopping by!