Lazy Tips for Sewing Knits: Pattern Paper Matters

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My last lazy tip was about cutting tools (wherein I pledged allegiance to my rotary blade). This one is also about cutting, in a round about way! 

When I cut knits, I never ever bother with pinning the patterns to the fabric. Some of you do though, and I puzzled this week over why you might need to… and here’s what I came up with: 

Tracing your patterns onto something “grippier” than tissue or paper lets you cut accurately and easily with barely any pics or weights! 

Let me explain…

pattern paper

On the left, we’ve got a normal tissue pattern. In my experience, trying to cut around tissue patterns (even already pre-trimmed to size) is awful. The pressure of the wheel next to the tissue makes the pattern piece shift and jump and twist, and it’s really hard to accurately cut the right shape. 

In the middle is printer paper from a PDF pattern. It’s more solid, but again, it tends to slide around too easily on the fabric and needs to be very carefully help in place while you cut. 

By contrast, on the right is my favourite stuff: kinda like Swedish tracing paper, it’s basically like interfacing without the glue. In my local store it’s call Trace-a-Pattern, and it sells for about $4/m. Oh, and it’s 60” wide! Score!  (If you live in Ontario, it’s usually stored under the cutting table on a roll at Fabricland!) 

pattern paper trace a pattern

What I love about this stuff is that it grips onto the fabric, and bends and flexes with the pressure of the roller as you cut. That means that you get a much more accurate cut! It also irons beautifully, so you can fold it up to store it, then press it flat in a jiffy! (Unlike taped-together PDFs – I’ve melted a lot of tape trying to iron them flat again!) 

If you’ve used a rotary cutter, you’ll know that sometimes it creates a “tidal wave” of fabric pushed just in front of the blade. (Ok, I need to sharpen my blade, I know!) With this Trace-a-Pattern, the pattern itself grips the fabric and helps to tame the wave! 

pattern weights

Here’s my cutting set-up!

I made these pattern weights ages ago (when I was making my first ever dress, perhaps?) Mine are just 10 washers inside a little pouch, but anything heavy works. I only have 6, but that’s enough to cut any size pattern piece for me. (I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t usually put so many on a little pattern piece like this! :P)

As long as I’ve traced my pattern onto Trace-a-Pattern, the cutting is really easy! Sometimes I don’t bother tracing, especially if I’m not sure the pattern will become a TNT. In general though, I love reusing patterns, so it’s worth the time to trace it. 

Have you noticed a difference cutting out patterns made with different materials? What’s your favourite to work with? 


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