You’ve bought your pattern, your fabric, thread and notions. You’ve washed your fabric like good people should and you’ve even done the dreaded pressing. You now have it laid out, sprawled across your floor… and if it’s anything like my house, you dog has walked across it 3 times and the cat is now laying smack in the middle.
Yup – you’re ready to cut your pattern out!
I want to start by talking about proper storage. There are several ways to store your patterns, mine is probably the worst way for pattern collectors – I cut the envelope and slap that baby on a manila envelope to store in file blocks, but it works for me. You need to store them in a way that will keep the tissue, once cut, together. Zip lock bags, envelopes, cabinets, folders, boxes – whatever works for you. Just remember you may have small pieces sneaking out and you don’t want to lose them – they’re usually important! You don’t want them torn either – very frustrating, although you can tape them back together, it’s just never the same.
You also need to keep them dry and out of the sun. Moisture for obvious reasons, them being paper and all, and sun because they’ll discolor and can become brittle. My older patterns, some older than I am, have done this making them very difficult to use.
Open the full sheet out – there will usually be several pattern pieces on one large sheet. I suggest you cut ALL the pieces out at once just to save time down the road and to take the headache out of trying to fit the tissue back in the envelope. Don’t worry about cutting on the lines just yet – no reason to do that twice! For now just go loosely around the outside, being very careful not to cut into any lines. You’ll see some directions on some of the companies tissues. You can keep those if you’d like, but not necessary. Reading them will get you bonus points!
While doing this first cutting, you’ll notice that there are several sizes on the patterns. Don’t cut on any sizes yet. Wait until you get to the final cut to cut on the exact line.
After getting all the pieces cut out, look at your directions to see which pieces you actually need. It will usually tell you on the upper left corner. They’re all numbered and are in the same shape as the pattern piece itself. Most even tell you what the part it is. Put the ones you don’t need back into the envelope. *After you’ve folded the extra pieces to put them back; if you’re finding they won’t fit back into the envelope again, you can press them with a dry iron to flatten them out. Make sure the steam setting is off however. You also don’t need to follow the exact fold lines…. unless you’re a bit OCD like myself. It’s sad….
You’ve got the pattern pieces sitting next to you that you’ll be using, but they’ve got lines and creases from being crammed into that tiny envelope; not good for cutting an accurate pattern! Your iron is already hot from pressing your other pieces to get them to fit back in the envelope, so head back over and iron over all your pattern tissues – don’t worry, they won’t burn unless you leave them under there. But then, so would anything else you left under there! Just quickly go over the paper, without the steam on, getting the lines out. It will go quickly. I suggest doing them upside down since the paper will curl up towards you and doing it upside down will make it easier to lay the tissue later.
Now here is where I’ll take a side trip….
I don’t like to cut my actual pattern pieces, instead I like to transfer them to pattern “paper”. My favorite being from Pellon. They also make gridded, which I’ve been told works excellent – I just get to distracted by the lines. If you choose to trace, use what works best for you. You can find both of these products where you find interfacing in your fabric store or online. Because I use it so much, I buy it in bulk.
I do this so that I can keep the pattern for longer, especially if I really like a pattern. Cutting it over and over is a bit tough on the tissue paper. It’s also great if you need to make more than one size, such as making matching outfits for your older and younger kiddo’s or matching bridesmaid’s dresses, or if you lose/gain weight, since you won’t be cutting on any specific line. I should probably state for legal reasons that sharing patterns (such as letting your neighbor use the pattern) is a no-no. We probably all do it…. but it’s still not supposed to happen.
Another good use for this paper is combining two patterns to make a new pattern for yourself. This is good if you like the top of one dress and the bottom of another or if you’re especially large on one end of your body and much smaller on the other causing you to buy two patterns. This also makes alterations SO much easier!
Before you lay the pattern down on the fabric, lay it down on your table or floor (This will not work on carpeting; it’s to hard to trace.) and pin the tracing paper over the pattern, being careful not to pin over tracing lines, it doesn’t matter how it’s laid on the tracing paper though. Proceed to trace ALL the information from the pattern on to the paper in your size. You can use a pen, chalk, crayon or pencil, although pen will last the longest. You want to trace everything including pattern information and size so if you happen to leave a piece out, you’ll know which pattern it belonged to.
Make sure to mark all the little triangles, printed circles (but not the cut circles, those are there to help the pattern tissue settle faster when you lay it on the table), squares, dots and lines. Only trace your specific size – you’ll notice that all markings come with sizes next to them. If you’re a size 14, trace all marking with that number next to them, including the outer cutting lines – no need to trace all the sizes, since you’ll just be cutting the extra lines away anyway.
It’s a long step, but well worth the effort – now get ready to cut!