No matter how you buy a pattern, Zede and I recommend that you trace over the original, instead of cutting out the one size you think you need. This seems pretty intuitive when we explain it, but some people are oddly resistant- let me make the case.
When you bought a sewing pattern in the “olden days”, it was almost certainly a gargantuan, intricately folded piece of tissue paper that had been magicked into an envelope that it would never fit in again. Sometimes these patterns contained many sizes, or just a few sizes within the company’s range. And, of course, there were- and still are- those fabulous European magazines with 20 patterns all printed on the same sheet, but in different colors. Tracing was commonplace, but I feel like the value of tracing has been lost in recent years.
Here’s the deal, whether you buy a multi-size pattern in an envelope or print it out and tape it together from a PDF file, it’s highly likely that you’re going to want to save those other sizes that you think don’t apply to you. Why?
You’ll find out you’re not that size. The sheer hubris of cutting out the size 16 from a huge piece of paper that contains sizes 0-20 baffles me. How can you be so sure you’re a 16? Ok, what if you are? What if you change sizes? You’ll never be able to get the size 18 out of that tissue pattern you cut up, and you’ll have to re-print the PDF. Plus, you probably cut off markings or parts of the smaller sized patterns too. It’s just not a good idea.
What if you’re many sizes? More than likely, your unique, beautiful body is not just one “size”. Most of us are a blend of what the fashion and manufacturing industry has come up with in terms of sizes. So, if you know how to measure yourself and size out the different parts of your body, like I do for the Ginger Jeans, you can then blend between sizes by free handing or using a dressmaker’s curve. Combining different sized patterns ahead of making a test garment can save you some serious time- so get out the tracing paper!
What if you want to make that garment for someone else? I think the practice of tracing has deep roots in my memories of my mom tracing and drafting patterns for costumes. You never know what size the next “Marian the Librarian” will be- so don’t be destroying the original pattern!
Sometimes we trace, so that we can then mutilate our pattern pieces by lengthening, shortening, re-curving, etc. to fit our bodies. It’s great to have a duplicate of the original size to “mess with”, so that in case you’ve messed with it too much- you can just slink back over to the original pattern and start with a clean slate.
Have you ever regretted cutting out one size of a multi-size pattern? Are you against tracing in any form? Tell me in the comments.
I hope you sew today,