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Saving patterns to reuse??

sjott | Posted in Patterns on

New to this board! Hello!!
How do you save patterns to reuse? Or what do you use to make a pattern more durable.

I have one that I would like to keep to make again next winter, but its getting a little weathered. How can I make a copy?

Curious as to what the pros do. Just getting into sewing beyond “costume quality” ;0)


  1. MegVT | | #1

    I don't know if I'd consider myself a 'pro', but I do save some patterns for re-use!  I purchase a lightweight fusible interfacing and fuse the pattern to the interfacing. 

    (Take care to protect your ironing board cover and iron, so you don't get the interfacing fused to them.)


    1. kjp | | #2

      I love the fusible interfacing idea - never thought of it!  I have to make a lot of adjustments to my patterns, especially pants.  I like to use the tissue to make the adjustments and then trace the pattern onto "tru-grid" interfacing like stuff.  It has one inch grid lines marked on it so it's great for grainlines and matching patterns. 

      1. edgy | | #3

        You can also iron it onto freezer paper -- les expensive than interfacing.nancy

        1. kjp | | #5

          Hey - I'm going to try that!  Less expensive is always better!  :-)  karin

  2. ElonaM | | #4

    I'm not a pro, just been sewing a long time, but I save all patterns I like by tracing my size onto either clear plastic painter's dropcloth or that Carriff soil separator fabric from Lowe's plumbing deparment. It's like pellon interfacing, but much lighter in weight, and you can make a pinnable muslin from it.


    Edited 1/27/2005 11:34 am ET by Elona

  3. sjott | | #6

    Thank you for the help... I like th eidea with the soil cloth. Will see what works best!
    Thanks again.

  4. SewTruTerry | | #7

    One of the things that I do to "save" a pattern is to never cut out the original I use tracing paper that I can now get in my local JoAnns and trace the size that I need on that and get a great deal of mileage out of it that way.  Also it makes it easier to do known alterations at the time of tracing such as my bust is usually a 12 and my hips and waist may be a 14 according to the pattern.  I also store the original pattern and the copy together with the instructions and envelope in a "zipper-like"  ( ok a Ziploc) bag that I can squeeze all of the air out of so that I can store more of them in a smaller area.

  5. FitnessNut | | #8

    I'm a "pro", so my approach is different from most. I don't use commercial patterns except when a client brings me one. My patterns are drafted on professional pattern paper, which is similar to a heavy kraft paper, that I buy on large rolls. It is fairly stiff and so you don't pin through it when cutting out....rather, you use it like a stencil, holding it in place with weights, drawing around it with chalk and then cutting just inside the chalk lines. Darts and other internal markings are transferred with punch holes or slits cut into the paper. Professional patterns are stored buy punching a hole near one end of the piece and hung with pattern hooks. A control sheet is hung on the top with a sketch of the finished garment, fabric swatch, and yardage information. I have a garment rack in my studio where I hang my "in use" patterns and a closet to store the rest.

    When a customer brings me a tissue paper pattern to use, I transfer the pieces to my heavy paper by stapling and cutting around them. I use a tracing wheel to mark the grainline and any other necessary markings. After removing the tissue, I use and store the pattern the same way as those I've drafted.

    You may find it useful to copy your most used patterns onto "hard" paper....or not. After doing it this way for a number of years, I would never go back to using tissue patterns. Just my opinion.

    1. kathleenf | | #9

      I save childrens patterns on poster board,then make stencils and just run a pencil on the edge and serge to cut them out,each pattern a new color.Is there a site to donate sewing supplies to disaster victims in U S A .I lost my Elna in hurricane Camille and I am still grieving,It was the first thing my husband and I bought together

    2. JD1 | | #11

      I'm not a pro, but I studied pattern preservation as you described.  Lately, I cannot find any who supplies the "hard paper".  Could you please share your source?

      Thanks so much.  I'm new to this board and have to say it's wonderful!

      1. FitnessNut | | #12

        I purchase my paper from Cansew, a supplier to the Canadian apparel industry. They carry many types and weights of pattern paper in rolls.....I use a heavy weight light brown kraft paper as it is less expensive than many of the heavier papers used in industry.Availability will, of course, depend on where you are located and if there is an industry supplier in the vicinity. If you are in the US, you shouldn't have any difficulty finding it within shipping range. Google on things such as pattern making paper, apparel industry suppliers, etc. Good luck!

        1. JD1 | | #13


          Thanks so much for your help and your speedy reply!

          I'm going to Google now!

    3. susanna | | #15

      I want to learn to do this. How did you? Where can I take courses or get more info on how to do this? Can you recommend any good books or videos on this?

      Happy Valentine's Day!

      1. FitnessNut | | #16

        I'm unsure as to what exactly you are asking me.....but I'll take a stab at it anyway.I learned to make patterns at design school (The International Academy of Design in Montreal, but they have 3 or 4 other campuses, both in the US and Canada). Sometimes local colleges will offer courses in patternmaking, as will some sewing centres or adult education programmes. There are some excellent books available (check on amazon), but I have to admit that it would be pretty difficult to teach yourself from books alone - you need to at least master the basics in a class before you can use a book to full advantage. (But this is only my opinion.) Having said that, good reference books are essential. We've also discussed patternmaking books here on Gatherings....you may want to check the seach engine. I've also learned a great deal from trial and error.....I've used lots of paper and lots of muslin to test my designs.I hope this was what you wanted to know. If I can give you any further info, just ask.

      2. apple | | #17

        Try Make Your Own Patterns by Rene Bergh. $19.95 from Barnes and Noble.  You start with a straight line and go from there.  It works great.

        1. msm | | #18

          oh my- am i the only one who just keeps using the original pattern? LOL-
          i still have some favorites from 30 years ago when i started sewing, in the same envelope, same store-bought tissue. and some vntage patterns from the 20s and 30s that are still usable (but huge sizes i can't wear and have not taken the time to size down as they are quite complicated.)
          i do cut pieces from musliin for durability if i am going to be experimenting and designing my own, but i have never had any trouble with the original tissue if handled carefully.

  6. juliamae | | #10

    Hi, SaraJean. I am relatively new, too. But this is such an interesting place to visit that I keep coming back and reading other people's mail.
    I make my own patterns for my small sewing business, Originals by Julia, and make original designs. The best method I have used is to buy gridded Pellon interfacing marked in 1" squares. I put a large piece of white paper on my cutting table, lay the original pattern on that, face up, and put a piece of the Pellon over the pattern piece, making sure the grid lines are lined up with the pattern grain lines. Then with a felt-tip marker, I trace the outline of the pattern piece and any details I want to keep, such as darts, button placement, grain lines, name of pattern piece, such as bodice front, etc. The pellon is lightweight enough to see thru, but a heavy, too big, ink marker can make ink marks on your original pattern piece. So use a stingy ink marker.
    Then I cut out the pattern pieces and store them in a gallon-size clear ziploc food bag. To remember what the pattern actually looks like and what the manufacturer and number, and sizes, are, I photocopy the pattern jacket and insert that into the ziploc bag with the pieces. Or better yet, I photograph a garment made from the pattern and keep that.
    I know that this could be a copyright violation, so I keep going back to my own original patterns for most body pieces, front, back, sleeves, collars, etc., and wing it for the skirt pieces. Skirts are a piece of cake, you just measure the length and the width you want and jot them down on a piece of recycled printer paper and stick that in, too.
    So, I am not just stealing a commercial pattern made by someone else for my own use and profit, since I made most of the original pieces from scratch from slopers I found in a vintage sewing book, and from experience of what does and does not fit real kids.
    I hope that helps. In the beginning, I bought a ten-yard piece of the gridded pellon, which is a generous width, and still have a bit of it left.


  7. Merryll | | #14

    Other than Sandy's wonderful professional kraft paper, I've used all the tips mentioned, and each is great in its own way. I have one other suggestion I haven't seen here, and it's probably more appropos for craft sewing, but may apply to garment sewing as well. I sometimes buy those large rolls of clear plastic at the hardware store such as Home Depot.  They come in different weights.  When I have favorite patterns, I lay them out on the plastic, hold them down with weights, and trace and cut around them. They fold and store easily and can be used over and over.


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