What I Do: Patterns

It occured to me the other day as I was reading The Slapdash Sewist that perhaps I am not normal.

As the love of sewing skipped a generation in my family I spend a huge amount of my sewing time guessing, experimenting, making it up and when all else fails reading the instructions or googling. However there is at least one piece of information about sewing that I distinctly remember coming from my mum: Don’t cut through the pattern, fold the sides under at the correct size and cut around that.

Like so:


And when the pattern piece goes in, for example at the neckline, I cut through the pattern in wedges and fold them under:


By comparison, from what I can remember, The Slapdash Sewist seemed to cut her pattern pieces twice. Once around the largest size on the pattern piece, and then a second time, under the pattern piece. I guess she must have her pins lined up right next to the correct sizing and hold the paper pattern up with one hand and cut with the other.

The way I do it is almost definately the way that my grandmother, the original owner of the Grasshopper, would have cut her patterns. And whilst I realise that I nolonger need to ration my patterns in a WWII kind of way, I quite like doing it the way I do.

So, how do you do it? I am strange!?

17 thoughts on “What I Do: Patterns”

  1. I’m mostly a tracer (I always trace the front so I can do my FBA and have a place to start over again from if I royally mess it up), but sometimes I’ll just cut out my size, depending on my mood and the cost of the pattern. AKA, I pretty much always trace patterns from independent pattern companies, but am a little more outgoing with the scissors on the Big 4 patterns I pay a buck for.

    I rarely use a pattern twice (working on breaking that habit), so it hasn’t been a big deal. I figure that fashion will change and I will find something new that I want to sew!


  2. Funny! I do weird things with my patterns also. I will fold sides under on some pattern pieces, but for me I am not consistent. I like that you do this because you could use it for another size later if you needed to.


  3. I am from the pattern tracing school – I think I developed the habit because for years I would use patterns from magazines where you had to identify your pattern from a sea of coloured lines all printed on top of each other. I still have a lot of patterns like that (especially Japanese pattern books and magazines), but it also makes sense with bought patterns so I (or others) can make the same item in the future in a different size.


  4. My mother used to do the same thing. I find it too fiddly and it’s quicker to trace off my size with a roll of white party plastic tablecloth – easier to store the uncut tissue and the plastic pieces fold up nicely.


  5. That’s not strange at all. When I was in uni a friend and I used to share patterns and I asked once about the weird folding on a pattern she lent me and she explained that her mum folded the pattern upwards along the size line she wanted and cut the her fabric out that way so I guess that’s kind of what you do 🙂


  6. I never did this until I started sewing for my daughter because I knew she would grow and wanted to have the ability to make the items again if I so chose. I think it’s smart to do on all patterns though. Even if you don’t use them again you can give them to someone else and they are still useful.


  7. I used to practice the fold under method as well. Now I have begun tracing my size onto pattern paper. This way I can alter the pattern exactly to my size a get a more acurate cut. Also, next time I want to use the pattern piece it is all ready to go (no fuss!). This is especially useful since I am a sucker for vintage pattern from the 40s-60s. Copying the pattern pieces allows me to preserve my vintage patterns and make them more useable.


    1. Tracing sounds like a good way to do it. I have a couple of vintage patterns that needed adjustments but didn’t have the guts to cut into them. I’ll be tracing them I think!


  8. A few times I’ve purchased two patterns (when they were on sale), but quickly realized that’s more wasteful and expensive so I bought rolls of tracing paper. Recently I got a good deal on this huge industrial size roll of tracing paper left over from a movie set. Tracing is time consuming, but I still don’t have fitting to a perfect science yet. -Nizzy


  9. Along straight edges I fold over the pattern piece according to the size I need. Along curved edges I place my pins a little bit inside the line of the size I’m cutting out, then cut the fabric underneath the pattern – holding the pattern piece down gently over the top of the scissors with my other hand so as to cut the fabric as accurately as possible.


  10. For my last few projects I’ve been tracing. That’s really only because I’m really bad at figuring out my correct size, I’ve learned. So this way I won’t have to re-buy the pattern (or re-tape a PDF which is worse!). Your way looks interesting and maybe it would be a good compromise – cut around a size bigger just to be safe but fold over if needed. It sure would save some time.Thanks!


  11. I retrace them on to separate pattern paper. It does cost more, but this makes adjustments easier, you can use them for another size later and combining two patterns much simpler. I do remember my mom doing the same thing as you when she’d sew thing for my sister and I though. A geat money/time saver!


      1. It can be, but after doing this for a while I’ve found it pays off in the end for me. It’s sort of like making a muslin – what a pain in the backside while you’re doing it, but so worth it when you discover there is a huge fitting issue *before* you cut your expensive material. I do cheat on myself on occasion though and do it the way you show (if I don’t have to cut in to any lines. Slight OCD going on there. 😉 )


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s