It's a story as old as time itself: girl meets perfect pattern tracing material, girl loses perfect pattern tracing material, girl tries to find solace in arms of one substandard flimsy scratchy hard-to-write-on tracing material after another... girl finds perfect pattern tracing material and sews happily ever after!
They (and by "they" I mean Carolyn in a recent blog post, but she sparked quite a discussion!) say that some seamstresses/seamsters are Cutters and some are Tracers.
Well, once upon a time I was a Cutter. I'd buy a pattern, cut a size 12 or 14, make any adjustments directly to the delicate tissue, and hope it worked out. Sometimes it did...
And sometimes it didn't, as with the New Look faux wrap dress that turned out four sizes too big. But alas! The pattern was cut and there was no going back to try a smaller size. If I wanted to try it again... I'd have to buy it again.
Living in NYC, nowhere near those $1.99 pattern sales, this was no small expense.
Then there's the magazine formerly known as Burda World of Fashion--tracing is NOT optional. So I was a subscriber from 2005 to 2007—and never MADE A SINGLE THING. And so, during my Knitting Years, I sold all my back issues on Ebay.
All due to an irrational fear of tracing.
I did flirt here and there with various materials, based on tips gleaned from the PatternReview message boards: regular wrapping tissue paper, newsprint, multipurpose printer paper, sketch paper, artist's tracing paper. I even ordered some mysterious "Pattern Tracing Material" from Nancy's Notions. But they were all either too flimsy or too thick, too opaque or too transparent, or the sheets were just too tiny to trace an entire pattern in one piece. It was a serious Goldilocks situation.
And then Everything Changed. I took a fabulous beginning serger class this January ("Sweating With Your Serger" at Sew Right) to learn how to use my grandmother's neglected Kenmore. And we were required to purchase and use some pattern tracing material. So along with my hideous (if highly educational) sweatshirt and my serger, I found my pregnant self lugging home a giant roll of 45" wide pattern tracing material on the hour-and-a-half subway/bus combo ride home to Brooklyn.
It was love at first trace. This stuff was perfect--easy and smooth to write on, just stiff enough, just soft enough, just see-through enough. Pretty soon I was tracing EVERYTHING--vintage patterns, BurdaStyle magazine patterns, Jalie and Kwik Sew patterns, baby patterns... I was a tracing maniac! And if I ever made a mistake or wanted to trace another size when I got back to my pre-pregnancy weight or wanted to use a pattern again for Cartoonist Baby as she grew... NO PROBLEM.
Now the idea of cutting directly into a precious pattern (or, horrors, tissue fitting!) gave me the cold sweats.
But let's get to the point--one day, my perfect pattern tracing material ran out, and I realized I had lost the label and had no idea what is was called — Cut-A-Pattern? Trace-A-Pattern? I couldn't make it back to the middle of Queens in my now more delicate condition and Sew Right couldn't ship it to me. I went back to using random bits of typing paper. I even ordered a big roll of "Do-Sew" from Nancy's Notions, but found it scratchy, flimsy and nearly impossibly to write on.
... so I asked on the PatternReview message boards and someone told me the stuff was called Bosal Create-A-Pattern and I ordered a 10-yard roll for $17.99 plus shipping from Vogue Fabrics (they call it Pattern Tracing Interfacing) and now my life is complete and this blog post is nearly over!
Of course, this is just what works for me. Others swear by sewer paper (sewer as in plumbing, not sewing). Gertie likes Swedish tracing paper. The Fit For Real People folks hawk something they call "Perfect Pattern Paper" and Kwik Sew sells "KwikTrace" gridded material. And I do have non-transparent paper with gridded lines on it for making patterns from scratch, though I never actually use it. But now that I've found my lost Pattern Tracing Material love again, I think we'll be in a long-term relationship... no wandering eyes for me!
P.S. Just in case it's not obvious, I am not in any way affiliated with this or any other sewing-related company! But in case you need to identify this stuff by sight, here's what it looks like (it also comes on interfacing-like bolts):
P.P.S. Are you afraid of tracing? Or do you have a tracing material love of your own? Or better yet--do you know anywhere I can buy this stuff in Manhattan or Brooklyn and avoid the shipping costs?