Learn To Sew - How to trace a pattern


Most of the patterns that you get today are multi-size patterns, I'm a big fan of these as it means that you only have to buy the pattern once and can make it up in multiple sizes e.g. if you change size or want to make the item to give to someone else as a gift.

You can also grade between 2 sizes if necessary e.g. if your bust measurement fits into one size and waist in another.

How to trace a pattern

You could of course simply cut out the pattern in your size directly on the pattern sheet, but I don't do this for the following reasons

  • Once cut out, if your size changes you are stuck with the size cut out!
  • You would not be able to make it for anyone else as a gift.
  • You may find that the size cut out does not fit.

So this quick lesson shows you how to trace a pattern.

What will you need?

  • Pattern paper
  • The pattern that you are tracing
  • Carbon paper
  • A blunt pen/pencil or tracing wheel

How to trace a pattern

I use burda carbon paper as this is a much larger size than most standard carbon papers, I've been using the same one now for 2 years and there is still enough carbon left to use it! (and I've traced loads and loads of patterns).

To start, place your pattern paper on a smooth and flat surface, and place the carbon paper on top with the carbon side face down (the carbon side feels waxy and if often coloured, on this the carbon side is yellow).

Now place the pattern on top of the carbon paper, you can place a few weights on top to keep it secure.

Now use your tracing wheel or blunt pen/pencil to trace over your selected size of pattern, ensure that you press firmly, but not so hard as to tear the pattern.

Ensure that the pattern does not slide about, so as above secure with weights or hold down firmly with your other hand as you trace.

How to trace a pattern

Its important to trace over all the markings e.g. the grain lines and notches.

Thats it!! All done, how to trace a pattern!

You will end up with the pattern traced onto the paper, simply draw over the markings with a pen to make them clearer, and cut out the pattern.

How to trace a pattern

You can trace the pattern directly onto the fabric, rather than using a paper pattern, but I don't use this method simply because I rather having a paper pattern!