If you are ready to take it to the next level in your sewing journey, then you are most likely ready to make your own sewing patterns! Using store-bought patterns is great in the learning process but being able to build and manipulate your own sewing patterns gives you unlimited design opportunities and can be so gratifying.
Professional marked pattern paper is the best to use but lets face it, sewing is an expensive hobby. Good quality fabrics, practice muslin, trims and findings, and all the necessary tools can add up to a pretty penny. If you're just learning how to sew it can start to put a dent in your bank account. Pattern paper, just like fabric, is one of the items that needs constant replenishing, which is why cutting some corners and getting a bit creative can help you find replacements that work just well but cost much less.
We've discussed some sewing hacks in our previous blog and now it's time to talk about pattern paper hacks- An equally important part of the sewing process!
The pattern paper used in the fashion/clothing manufacturing industry is numbered-dotted white paper. It facilitates pattern making by offering pre-marked points and numbers at 1" increments. Although the markings will save you some effort and make the patterning process much faster, if you have an 18" marked plastic ruler you can easily create patterns without the need of these pattern markings. In addition, marked pattern paper is not easy to find in local sewing/craft stores so you have to turn to online shopping to get your hands on it.
Note: If you are starting to make your own patterns, these three tools are a must have: an 18" marked clear ruler, a mechanical pencil, and a simple unmarked french curve.
As mentioned above, you don't have to use professional pre-marked pattern paper if you can't find it or afford it. However, pattern paper should have the following necessary characteristics to function best:
-Be Flexible: Easy to handle, be folded without forming deep creases, and bend without ripping when pinned.
-Be durable: It shouldn't rip easily when handled or pinned.
-Not too thick (unless you are using it on slopers)
-Easy to pin: The pins should go through easily without too much damage to the paper.
If you are looking for a cheaper, easier-to-find replacement for professional pattern paper, all the characteristics listed above should be taken in consideration.
Here are the three substitutes for professional pattern paper that you can easily find at your local crafts/arts/shipping stores. The best part is, they wont break the bank!
Parchment Tracing Paper (Roll)
One of the best substitutes for dotted pattern paper, parchment tracing paper is very similar to the paper used on store-bought sewing patterns. It has a transparent characteristic that makes it easy to trace and transfer pattern markings. It is thin and flexible but strong enough to withstand pinning and handling. It can be folded easily without creating deep, harsh creases and once folded, it takes up very little space. Parchment paper is also easy to mark on with a pencil or any writing utensil of your choice. Of course, the best one to get is in a larger roll. The most commonly available are 24"-36" rolls at your local art/craft stores, office and home improvement stores- chances are, you'll love working with it!
Although it doesn't have a transparent quality and is not as thin as parchment paper, shipping/wrapping paper has the flexibility and durability necessary to work well as pattern paper. The most common is the ivory/brown colored version you've definitely come across when buying glass-wear or receiving delicate shipments. It is so commonly used for wrapping and shipping that there is a probability you have some hiding in your house as we speak. Although you could reuse the pieces you already have, we recommended you buy a fresh roll so that you're working on a clean, wrinkle-free surface. This thicker wrapping paper is easy to mark on, pin and fold without creating too much damage to the paper. You should be able to purchase it at any local home improvement store, shipping and even some craft stores.
All Purpose White Paper Roll
All purpose white paper, used often for making lightweight banners or photo backdrops is thicker and a bit heavier than the options described above. It is best used on sewing patterns for thicker, heavier-weight fabrics, although you could make it work on lighter fabrics with a little bit of effort. It has very slight transparency (for transferring and tracing pattern markings), good durability and it is fairly easy to pin. It has good flexibility although it works best if stored by being rolled as opposed to folded- it creases a bit more than regular pattern paper. That being said, it makes for a stable, easy to work with pattern paper and it is commonly found at any art and crafts store.
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