Pattern tracing fun

Something I’ve avoided for ages (and ages) (and aaaaages) is tracing patterns.

Heck, I’ve avoided it so hard, I have a bunch of patterns in my stash I’ve been wanting to make but haven’t because I needed to trace them first. Some of those have been there a good couple of years now.

I admit it – tracing kinda scared me. I didn’t really know what to trace onto – tracing paper seemed the obvious choice, but the size of the sheets meant I would have had to keep taping them together. Which isn’t fun at all.

Then a while back, another lovely blogger suggested tracing onto interfacing. I tried it, and whaddaya know – it worked wonderfully! So I traced…. one pattern. (And made this shirt over here with it.)

Then the Burda Sew-along came along, and suddenly I needed to trace a bunch more patterns. I trundled along to Made on Marion to buy some more interfacing, and the amazing Mr C instead sold me a far, far better thing.

An amazing thing.

A thing I never would have thought of.

A big, long length of the sort of stuff that upholsters use at the bottom of chairs. You know the stuff? It’s lightweight and strong and, as it turns out, is great for tracing patterns. It doesn’t tear, doesn’t stretch along the bias, and is nice and transparent while still allowing you to write on it easily with a pen.

Check it out:


Transparent enough to see the pattern markings through easily – woo hoo!


(Yes, that’s the La Sylphide dress from Papercut I’m tracing. And as soon as I’m finished this post, I’m off to go sew some of it up, wee hee!)

Update: I’ve been informed by the amazing Mrs C that the best-fitting name for this stuff is very, very fine landscapers tissue. Hope that helps anyone who is trying to track it down! If you find it’s called by another name in other countries, I’d love to know what it’s called where you are. 🙂

It’s also super cheap. So, you know, next time you need something to trace on, I highly recommended getting some of this stuff. ‘Tis the bees knees!

35 responses to “Pattern tracing fun

  1. Amazing! So how is it called anyway? I mean, what do you ask for at the shop?

  2. Tracing onto interfacing… hmmm, gotta try that. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Nice to learn of an alternative to tracing paper. Tracing is such a pain (on the knees too!).

    • I’ve started taking over our dining table for tracing…. (A far better use of it than eating food, haha!)

  4. I love that stuff! I first used it when I did a course at made on marion (what the heck is it called anyways?)

    • According to Mrs C, it’s very, very find landscaping tissue. (Or that’s the best way to ask for it, anyway. 🙂 )

  5. good to know where I get it here – I got some from ebay ages ago. It lasts and lasts….

  6. Great idea! Tracing patterns is my absolute last favourite thing to do!
    P.S can’t wait to see your la sylphide, it’s a beautiful pattern!

    • It’s funny, I always avoided it because I thought I’d hate it, but I don’t really hate it after all! It’s almost like grown-up colouring-in, in a way….

  7. um, GENIUS. i just added it to my shopping list… as “bottom of chair stuff” :))

    • I’ve just heard it’s official almost-name is landscaping tissue. Very, very fine landscaping tissue. (Which they use for the bottoms of chairs. So, you know, we’re crossing multiple DIY type genres here with this stuff!)

  8. Ahh I have some of that stuff…but in black 😉 so not very useful, hehe but nice to know a good source for when I run out of butter paper! My mum used to use something similar to this back in the day, I had totally forgotten until now. It will be great for those patterns you use over and over again and get full of pin holes and end up all crumpled up.

    I’m excited to see you make this! 😀

    • Trying to imagine ways you could trace onto the black stuff….. Nope, not coming up with anything. Hmmm.

      But yes, it’s super for folding and cramming into pattern envelopes, then it just bounces back into shape for use again! 😀

  9. Also, btw, allow me to welcome you to “Team Trace”

  10. Ooo…La Syphide is very pretty. I’m looking forward to seeing yours made up!

    My friends and I use thick gauge plastic painter’s dropcloth for pattern tracing, which I’m surprised hasn’t caught on more. It’s clear, cheap, doesn’t tear, takes a lot of folding/storage abuse, waterproof, and can be written on with a Sharpie. I guess the downside is that it’s a little slippery and not as grabby as the interfacing, but man, I find the plastic fantastic.

  11. Er…sorry for the comment spam. Just wanted to post a picture of my using plastic to trace a pattern from Burdastyle:

    Happy sewing! =)

    • Huh, that’s a brilliant idea! I may have to give that a try next, just to compare both. 🙂 Thanks for the tip!

  12. Prettyprettyplease ~ does anybody know the name of the upholstery stuff?? Stores up here (US) don’t know what I’m talking about. Heeeeelp ! ! !
    And thanks! 🙂

    D’el (another person with lots of patterns to trace, quickly running out of whatever it was I used for my burda blouse)

  13. Yep tracing is exactly why I avoided it for so long as well, but now with large tracing carbon and a tracing wheel is a good to go. No more murdering my patterns with the scissors!

    I love reading your blog and I’ve nominated you for the Super Sweet Blogger Award

  14. Great to hear about this (actually I’ve just read the post above too and realise you’ve already got the super sweet award!) Anyway, the thought was there …

  15. Kat, thanks so much for your answer! Didn’t find anything with landscaper’s tissue, but did locate 2 things, listed below. Are either of them what you’re talking about?
    Hugs, D’el
    White Cambric, Dust Cover, Bottom Cloth
    • Used For Throw Pillow Casing Cover
    • 36 inchs wide
    • Sold by the continuous yard
    Hanes White Elite Upholstery Dust Cover
    Material: 100% Polypropylene
Width: 36″
Denier (dpf): 1.9
Weight: 2 ounces per square yard
    Made from 100% polypropylene fibers, this dust cover from Hanes is an easy-to-work-with 36” in width, weights 2 oz per square yard and has a 1.9 denier. 

    • Oops, sorry for the late reply! (I forgot I hadn’t replied! *hangs head in shame*)

      Both of those look like they might be the same thing, I couldn’t say for sure, but the description and the pictures look right. And hey, it’s super cheap – if I were you I’d get a bit of one and see how it works out for you. 🙂

  16. There are two types of pattern “tissue” I use, both look and feel like lightweight interfacing. One has red dots every inch so you can match grain lines, etc. and the other has blue grid lines every inch. If you’d like me to send you a few yards to play with send me a note with an address : ) I recently traced a pattern for Barbara and she loves it.

  17. I used to used non fusible, non woven interfacing for this very thing. But then a friend of mine who is a professional pattern drafter used brown paper and a tracing wheel and put the pattern on top and perforated the patten into the paper! So now I have heaps of brown paper. But I think I’ll go back to this stuff as the other technique leaves holes in the pattern.

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