As a newbie looking to dip their toes into dressmaking it must be overwhelming to discover just how much resources and information there is out there. I know I am always looking at patterns and could spend an absolute fortune on them if I wanted without really knowing what I was buying (hint – I and many others have done this!). With this in mind, I asked the lovely members over at the Dressmaking Blogger Network on Facebook to tell me what their go to patterns are and why:
I’ve used many things as tracing paper for my patterns over the last few years that I have been sewing; mainly cheap greaseproof paper from the poundshop! It works well but its not very wide and the better I get at sewing the more intrigued I’ve become to try the professional equipment.
A couple of weeks ago the Swedish Tracing Paper company sent me a roll to try out. I was very excited because I’d heard it not only acts as tracing paper but you can sew it into a toile too!
Previously I had been sewing mainly for others, but further to my last post, I decided to bite the bullet and make The Rushcutter by In the Folds for myself.
The first thing I noticed about the Swedish Tracing Paper is that it is very wide (1m) so there is no taping together of pieces necessary. As if that wasn’t reason enough to fall instantly in love with it, it almost has a feel of fabric about it. Well, maybe a cross between high quality paper and poly-cotton fabric. Ideal for making a toile.
Once I’d cut and pieced together my PDF pattern I put the Swedish Tracing Paper over the pattern pieces; pinned and cut. I then drew any information on the Swedish Tracing Paper that I needed to. I used an ordinary pen and there was no problems with writing on it. You could perfectly see through the Swedish Tracing Paper too.
Once all my pieces were cut I began to make the pattern following the PDF instructions, leaving out any non-essential steps. The sewing of the STP was straight-forward and worked exactly the same as if I were sewing fabric – probably better if anything – no chewing of tracing paper here! I was sewing with quite a lot of Swedish Tracing Paper and it did become crumpled in places, but this didn’t weaken it (I think the paper is very strong really).
Okay, so toile made – my first real one – and I tried it on. The pattern is an easy fit. One thing I did notice in the measurements was I went across two sizes, but decided to stick with the smaller size as it is an oversized garment. The toile showed me how much room I would have with the dress made at that size which was really informative at that stage, although you cannot rely on the tracing paper for an idea of drape because obviously paper doesn’t drape very well!
I did not end up making any adjustments as the toile seemed fine, it was nice to approach a garment feeling secure it would fit in the end.
When I got to work with the actual pattern it was quite easy as I had done many of the steps already, much better than blindly forging ahead with a pattern in manic excitement! I decided to block sew with two different fabrics, so I made up two dresses as I went. Here are the results:
If you are concerned about getting a precise fit and improving your dressmaking skills to professional standard then Swedish Tracing Paper is definitely worth the investment. I’m glad I tried it and will be purchasing more in the future. It does make the process of sewing more long-winded but that is preferable to getting the seam ripper out after you have finished your piece!
The next project I plan to use Swedish Tracing Paper on is SEW OVER IT’s Ultimate Pencil Skirt. I recently went on a fabric haul trip and sourced some lovely red tartan…
Have you used Swedish Tracing Paper for your projects? What did you think? Have you used something else to toile? Or do you just shortcut to the making of the actual garment? Let me know in comments below…
Disclaimer: Swedish Tracing Paper company supplied me with the tracing paper in exchange for a review. However, all opinions within the article are my own and not influenced by the company.
I have been a huge fan of Tilly and the Buttons since I found them as a sewing newbie. Their brand is bright and colourful, their designs modern retro (I guess). Tilly’s byline is ‘learn to sew your own clothes’, and by purchasing her patterns I was well on the way (from someone who thought they would never achieve dressmakery this is quite a compliment!).
To date I have bought her book Love at First Stitch, Francoise dress, Arielle Skirt and Bettine. It is Bettine I am going to review today.
I ordered the pattern online and it came pretty quickly. The pattern is made of thick paper (almost card) and is only printed on one side so will be re-usable time and time again. Nothing worse than a pattern made out of something you use to wipe your nose then to have to recycle it to use the other side!
My first step was to trace the pattern pieces. I could just cut them out and use but in case I want to make the Bettine in a different size in future I opted for tracing it. There are lots of different ways about doing this (a blog post in itself!) but I use greaseproof paper (which you can buy from the pound shop!) and a Sharpie.
The pattern comes in 8 sizes and gives guidance on sizes and measuring yourself – this is really helpful. It’s also simple to understand. I decided to make this in a size 5 (roughly a size 12) so I could give it away as a gift.
Once my pattern pieces were created and cut out, now came the time to pick fabric. For this dress I decided to go with a cotton twill I had in my stash – green with white bows on it. It is slightly Christmasy but not enough that you couldn’t wear it the rest of the year. I only had two meters and was concerned it wouldnt be enough but following Tilly’s advice about laying wide fabric out, I managed to cut everything within the stash I had – result!
Once the fabric was cut and the markings made with water washable ink, I found it really helpful to write which piece was which on the fabric in the seam allowance.
Before I started to make Bettine I read through the booklet that comes with the pattern. I think this is a really good idea. I am a huge fab of this booklet. It gives simple step by step instruction with colour photos to show what she is talking about. There was only one time I couldnt work out what she meant, which was probably my lack of experience, however given it’s for newbee sewers I would expect this to be explained. This didn’t take away from the experience – I just used my initiative and did what I thought she was asking.
As it was the first time I’d made Bettine, I expected there to be errors and for it not to come out perfect, but to learn from that. I have to say I exceeded my own expections. It did take a long time to make – from tracing, through to finishing the hem it was 9 hours of work (which I would expect to be speeded up in future) and so was quite a process, however it was a lot of fun to see my project coming together and mistakes were few and far between – pretty unusual for me!
My biggest problem was getting my serger to work properly – I ended up giving up on that and using pinking shears instead. My only other trouble spot was sewing the channel for the elastic. I sewed from the underside and ended up sewing half the skirt together (or the pockets in the wrong place anyway!) so the seamripper did come out for that. And I had to thread the elastic twice as it got twisted – otherwise a very straight-forward exciting project that I throughly enjoyed.
I can’t tell you the immense pride and joy I experienced looking at my finished garment. I never in a million years would have believed I could make something like this, it is by far the most advanced dress I have made to date. I went for the pocket and tab version – thank you Tilly and team!