Tracing Patterns - Part Two
Actually Getting to Trace
I've found the response I got to Part One of the Tracing Patterns posts interesting. Many of you have never used these sorts of patterns, and neither did I until a few years ago. While it isn't hard, there is a learning curve. Others of you have done most of your sewing with these types of patterns and find American patterns confusing.
One of the most notable pieces of advice came from Tany, who said, " . . . many of the problems some people encounter with BWOF patterns are due to not reading through the instructions thoroughly, namely by skipping the pattern description section and not observing the cutting layout where all the custom cut pieces are included too. " Exactly! You must carefully read everything and get a good look at those diagrams, too!
Let's start by looking at some of the pattern sheets themselves and what you'll encounter there.
From BWOF, we have this portion of a sheet. All along the side of the sheet are printed colored numbers, in seemingly no particular order. These numbers are printed there to help you find the pattern pieces. All the pieces for each garment are numbered, and if you find the correct number in the margin, all you have to do is go directly up from that number into the pattern sheet to find your pattern piece. Not all pattern magazines do this.
On particularly long pieces, such as trouser legs, you might encounter the following notation, this one on a Patrones pattern sheet. This is because the pattern piece is too long to print all in one piece on the pattern sheet. What you're to do is extend the line by the amount shown to get the full pattern piece.
At other times, when the pattern piece is too big to print as a whole, you will encounter stars along the edge. Usually there is a second piece, labeled with an "a", such as pieces 2 and 2a. These pieces are to be joined at the lines with the stars. In the second picture, although blurry, you can see the phrase Linea de union patron pieza 2a. This is an extra little reminder from Patrones that this line is the one you will match and unite with piece 2a. The only time you'd see something like this in an American pattern would be for extremely large skirt pieces for wedding gowns, especially those with a train.
Now for the actual tracing, which I must preface with a discussion of whether to trace with seam and hem allowances (no, hem allowances are not included, either) or without. The instructions for BWOF (if you read them!) actually tells you what seam allowances and hem allowances to trace. Tracing the allowances is totally up to you. Many Americans feel more comfortable with seam allowances since this is what they are used to. Personally, I do not trace with seam allowances. I like to see the exact finished shape of the piece, and I like the flexibility of adding whatever size seam allowances I want. I can also chose to place a piece on a fold or not without having to remember to fold out the seam allowance. If I'm going to thread trace the pieces, then not having a seam allowance is a bonus. I can mark and thread trace right around the pattern piece. If you'd rather trace with the seam allowances, there are some nifty tools for doing so, both commercial and homemade. Cidell (the mistress of sewing gadgets) has some neat tracing tools and sources. Kristine made her own double pencil for tracing the lines and seam allowance all at once. Finally, Pam Earny has a neat method for adding seam allowances after tracing, using the sew machine.
To trace, well, just get out the pencil and trace the lines! I like to use a ruler for anything straight so that the lines actually end up straight. I trace the curves *carefully* without a ruler. If there are any right angles or long straight edges, I like to line those up with the edge of the tissue paper. This works, of course, if you're not adding seam allowances as you trace. You can see this below, where I'm trying to line up the tissue with the fuchsia lines that are at a right angle.
Before you move the tracing paper, make sure you have traced all of the lines and all of the details such as darts, pleats, stitching lines, and especially the grain line. A good way to double check is to look at the instructions and check the cutting layout or the little section with all the pattern pieces (BWOF), which shows all the marks you should have traced. Make sure you add any numbers for seams (BWOF does this) or letters for match points (Patrones does this).
Lastly, label the pattern piece. I circle the pattern piece number, give it a name, then write the magazine and issue number, model number and size. The sample shown below is from Patrones #276, model #2.
Shown below is the front piece for a pair of trousers. Notice that I had to tape together two pieces to have enough paper to trace the entire piece.
I hope this was helpful - it really is not that hard, but can be a bit intimidating to look at those pattern sheets for the first time. For Americans, this can be a foreign language in and of itself, not taking into account the fact that the magazine may not be printed in English.
Parting Shot: More Shelves. My husband installed shelves above my computer area - his computer area is just to the right of the window and looks much the same as this space including the shelves, but minus the bulletin board. I have not started to organize what will be placed on them. I will probably move my Threads collection to the top shelf, and leave all the pattern magazines on the shelves in my studio.