Pattern paper (for designing your own patterns)

jennApril 5, 2006

Do fabric stores sell a type of paper for creating your own patterns? I saw a small package of something like it at JoAnns but the pieces were small so I didn't think that was what I'm looking for. I think I recall seeing pattern paper back when I used to sew clothes and was in fabric stores all the time (many moons ago!). Is there such a thing, and what do they call it so I can ask for it by name?

If not, what do you use to create your own pattern? For starters, I'd like to create just a square for a pillow top.



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I bought a big roll of the stuff years ago and still have it. Can't for the life of me remember where I bought it from. But I used to buy from Clotilde at that time.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 1:16AM
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There are a number of papers you can buy for this purpose. Some come printed with a grid. These tend to be fairly expensive or, if you can find industrial suppliers, they come on a HUGE roll which will take you years and years to use.

I use a couple of products that Nancy's Notions sells; the prices are quite reasonable. The way the Nancy's Notions website is set up, I can't put in a link directly to the page. Just go to the website and put these item numbers in the search field:

Pattern paper, 21 inches by 77 yards. This is actually the same paper they use on examining tables in doctors' offices, if you have a source for that. Nancy's price is only $6.98 a roll.

This is stonger than tissue paper, you can see through it to trace things and it's easy to mark on it with pencil, pen or marker. I use it to trace the size I want from multi-sized patterns, then make any alterations on my copy.

Sewers Fix It tape. $2.98. This is also a medical product; it's paper adhesive tape. Use it to tape together sheets of the pattern paper, or to make alterations to your pattern. The big advantage to this tape is that you can run an iron over it and it doesn't melt because it is paper. It's exactly 1/2 inch wide, so you can use to to mark sewing lines on fabric, for instance, when you put in a zipper.

Also search for "pattern paper" to see some other pattern-making products.

For about $10 you can have everything you need to make your own patterns for a long time to come.


Here is a link that might be useful: Nancy's Notions

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 1:34AM
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I was able to get rolls of tissue paper at the local two year college when I took a class in pattern designing.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 1:54PM
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Fabric stores also carry a paper by the yard with little red dots all over it that used for pattern making.It's located with the interfacings.I believe walmart also sells thisI like this better than the examining table type stuff as it holds up much better and you can fold it roll it whatever.I just draw my lines on it with a ball point pen.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 2:53PM
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Thanks everyone! You are all so helpful here.

It's nice to see there are several options to choose from. I'll see what I think will work best for me.

CMC - thank you for the link.... I'm sure I will be spending lots of time browsing that site!


    Bookmark   April 5, 2006 at 3:45PM
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I use the sheets from an easel pad - pretty cheap at the office supply store, and a nice big piece of paper! You can get them with 1" grids, too.

I also have a LARGE roll of drafting paper I bought years ago at a drafting supply store. You probably can't find that anymore! I don't think any engineers or architects actually draw with paper & pencil anymore! :)

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 1:56PM
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Newspapers, especially 'hometown type', sell ends of newsprint for a minimum price. It is about 24" wide and there are usually many yards on a roll. I have bought it for use with childrens activities, making patterns, and for packing when moving. It is clean with no print on it and is stronger than tissue paper. The last time I bought I paid $3.00 for a roll that was almost heavier than I could carry! Check it out!!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 6:51PM
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At college we have to use heavy brown paper, fine if you are going to store the patterns without folding them (in a big workroom) but a major pain if you have to carry the rolls of pattern back and forth on the bus! (just bought an expanding drawings tube to carry them)

I don't like this, because although the heavy paper lasts, it's brown - so you can't see through it for tracing! You are supposed to lay a thick cloth/felt on the table put down blank paper and then your original pattern on top. You then prick through it (with an awl) to mark out the shape of each piece. You end up with a blank sheet of paper covered in tiny holes that you then have to join up with a ruler. Nightmare!

I personally prefer proper tissue paper (Burda brand makes nice big sheets and is intended for patterns) which I can use to trace patterns in the more normal way. Like another poster above, I use this for copying multi-size patterns before making any alterations.

It is possible to buy Plotter Paper, white of 45gsm (the weight, normal letter paper is around 80 - 100gsm) I'd like to get this for my own use, but it's sold in 300metre rolls, so I have to be VERY sure, it's what I want, but it is quite cheap.

Hope you find what you want!


    Bookmark   April 8, 2006 at 3:32PM
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I've heard that the rolls of paper used in a doctor's office on the examining table work well if you have a friendly doctor you know from whom you could buy it. Otherwise, I bought a roll of plain white paper from Nancy's Notions (I think), and that works well, although I HATE tracing patterns!!!


    Bookmark   April 9, 2006 at 4:31PM
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I have a small role of Tyvek housewrap. It's perfect because one side is completely white which allows me to mark it and it's virtually indestructible. You can pin over and over again without destroying your pattern. The small rolls are only 36" wide and are available in home improvement stores; Lowes, Home Depot, etc.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2006 at 10:57PM
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You can get pattern paper for tracing patterns and making slopers at paragon patterns and also at Atlas Levy Sewing.

Here is a link that might be useful: Paragon Patterns

    Bookmark   December 3, 2007 at 1:29AM
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My favorite is Do-Sew but it isn't cheap. It is thin, see-through, and can be folded and kept in the pattern envelope of multi-size patterns.

Here is a link that might be useful: Do-Sew

    Bookmark   December 3, 2007 at 11:19AM
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As a chronically starving artist, I'm always looking for ways to recycle things. I got the tail end of a roll of newsprint, years ago, from our local newspaper office. It's not ideal for patternmaking (tears easily, isn't see-through) but it was free and as I also do a lot of sketches (and like to let my little nieces and granddaughter draw, when they come over) it has been broadly quite useful. I've also used it, lots, for applique--I cut shapes out of it, pin pieces to it, iron the edges over it, sew the applique pieces down, about 7/8 of the way around, and then since it tears so easily, am able to take tweezers, reach under, and pull out all the paper, then sew down the remaining edge. For something also free, this is what I've been using for drafting smaller pieces of patterns (also good for my applique work): I buy those flat, large desk calenders, and when the months have expired (or if there are months I haven't used), I save the sheets and use them, back side up, to draw on. But I'm going to look into getting some Tyvek, for larger, durable pattern pieces. (You can see some of my applique work at my site--along with some of my jewelry designs, and thanks!)

Here is a link that might be useful: Heron Moon Designworks, on Etsy :)

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 11:45AM
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I use the tissue that covers the exam table in the doctor's office. My doc gave me a roll. I'm sure it's not expensive you might ask at your next visit. A friend, who teaches sewing, buys it by the case and sells it for what it costs her.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 10:36PM
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I get mine at she sells pattern paper and also swedish pattern material. You can cut out your pieces and pin or sew them together and try it on. I use it for patterns that I know I love and am going to use again and again.It does not tear or rip and folds easily for storage and you can write on it with marker.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 1:04AM
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Since my last post on this subject, I've started using Swedish Tracing Paper, 29 inches by 10 yards. It's pinable, sewable and really nice. Retails for $11.00 a roll at my local fabric shop. Distributed by Birch Street Clothing, Inc.,, but probably available other places as well, like Nancy's Notions.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 12:54PM
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I also found the swedish tracing fabric scraps were very good to make the pages for a needle book. As my eyes have gotten older it is harder to pick out a good needle from the pin cushion, so I made one of these needle books and it is easier to pick out the one I want to use and it keeps them out of the way when I am working. I never was too good at using a pincushion.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 4:49PM
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If you just need to draft a few pieces, you can use an old sewing pattern (Yikes ~ I don't mean collectible or vintage!) which is incomplete or one you won't ever use if it has uncut tissue big enough for what you want to draft. Just make sure it's not a special pattern that you'd be cutting up!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 11:19PM
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how do i use pattern paper???! do i like trace the shape of the article of clothing im making with using my measurment and then lke sew the whole thing together and when its done i just pull the paper off???? is that right? i need to learn how to sew a bikini within the next 6 weeks!!! where do i get the liners?? :*

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 11:57PM
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I prefer to use featherweight nonwoven interfacing (sew-in, not fusible). It is translucent, marks easily, drapes and folds but doesn't stretch or tear - and doesn't rattle noisily like paper or dissolve when the steam iron leaks or I spill my tea :P

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 4:07PM
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I like this topic. A local art supply store is my biggest pattern altering/creating friend. I use multiple bright pastel pencils to keep steps separated. I use roles of tracing paper when I can get them on sale. For mock-ups or trials I use (non-quilters) grid paper, or use old king size flat sheets. This last trip I bought 100% recycled newsprint. It does require serious underneath to trace, but with the pastels I can trace the pattern lines(on the back of tissue to prevent mirror image issues), lay the newsprint on top and rub firmly to transfer. Then you use your marker of choice and darken it up.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 8:21PM
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It's been a long time since I've worked in a fabric store, but I remember something called Pattern Ease. It was on a bolt with the interfacings, looked like white sew-in interfacing but it was stiffer, I think. I would think sew-in interfacing would do just as good.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 9:01PM
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