Whenever I sew using a pattern I don’t actually use the pattern. Wait, what? I use a copy of the pattern. Sewing patterns typically have several size layered on top of each other. So, if you cut out one size you can only ever use that size! You’ve just ruined all the other sizes on the pattern. So in order to preserve all the sizes on a pattern you must trace! But first you must iron!
If you are using a paper pattern that was folded up in an envelope it’s going to be wrinkly and creased. So you need to smooth those wrinkles out. If you are using a PDF printed pattern you get to skip this step (but you have to piece it together!)
You’ll need some tracing paper. I go between two different options. Swedish Tracing Paper is my favorite! It’s see through and sturdy. It is also pretty wide, so you have a lot of room to work with. You can even sew it to use as a muslin and try on your project before cutting your fabric. The downside is it’s a little pricey.
To keep costs a little lower I also use Medical Pattern Paper. It’s a little thicker, so it’s a little harder to see through than Swedish tracing paper. And it’s definitely paper where Swedish tracing paper is almost fabric like. But it comes in a much larger roll and is cheaper.
On a large sturdy surface roll your paper over your pattern. You can cut the paper off the roll at this point (to get it out of the way or to keep it from rolling away from you), just make sure you have enough to fit your whole pattern piece.
Grab yourself a pencil or a fine tip marker (my preference) and a straight edge ruler and pattern making ruler (optional). Trace the pattern, including the notches and any other notations, such as fold, waistline, buttonholes, etc.
When you get to a section where several sizes overlap I find it easiest to start at one end and trace until you get to the converging lines, then start at the other end and trace until you get to the converging lines, then fill in the middle. That way you stay on your correct size line.
Also write the name of the pattern, the size of the pattern, piece number/name, and how many to cut. And the which way the grain of the fabric should go, and the seam and hem allowances. Once all your pieces are traced you are ready to cut your fabric!
And just in case you wanted another reason for why to trace your patterns after I sewed up the above dress I didn’t like the fit on me at all and I ended up altering the pattern. Because I have all the sizes of the pattern preserved I can easily alter it to better fit me. Which I’ll have to show you how to do another day!