Pattern Preservation

How To Preserve A Sewing Pattern

I love sewing patterns.  I have tons of them, but two-thirds I have never used.  When I find one I like, I will use it over and over again.  Frequently, they are multi-sized, and I like to preserve all the sizes in case my size changes or I want to share with a friend.  As a result, my patterns tend to look rather tattered with extra sizes dangling off the edges.  After a while, it’s hard to see what I’m doing and use them effectively.  My typical way to deal with a pattern that I use more than once is to find pattern paper or some other see-through paper that’s stronger than the tissue pattern and cut out the pattern transferring all the markings.  It’s quite the process, and its always hard to get all the markings transferred properly.  While it’s stronger, I’m not always happy with the results.  So this time I decided to use some lightweight fusible interfacing to stabilize the pattern.

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For instance, I have a Skirt Pattern (Simplicity 2609) I use over and over and over again.  When I recently found some fabric that would make a nice skirt, I didn’t think my tattered pattern would survive the process again.  So I bought a new pattern and some fusible lightweight interfacing.  I saw this somewhere and it may have been on “Sewing With Nancy”, a PBS show.  She used this method to strengthen patterns.  I should be able to reinforce the pattern pieces I use and cut them down to my size.  This skirt pattern has two length options.  As I use both lengths, I tend to fold and tape back the longer part when I’m making a shorter skirt.  However, with the pattern stabilized I can cut the extension off and tape it back when I need it then.  Then remove it again when I’m done.  Consequently, I don’t have the length extension taped to the back adding bulk and getting in the way.  Also, the extension is available for me to reattach for longer skirts.

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First things first, I don’t want to preserve the entire pattern.  While it has 5 views, I’m only interested in view “D” and “E”, at this time.  First, I find the pattern pieces I need and cut them out, two pieces (one reason I love this pattern).  Second, I cut them out leaving some extra pattern paper just past the cutting line.  Incidentally, I cut out the largest size even though I wear the smallest.  Third, the pattern pieces must be ironed flat.  Fourth, leaving the pattern pieces on the ironing surface, I place the fusible interfacing over the pattern with the rough bumpy surface facing up.  Then, I cut the interfacing larger than the cutting line of the pattern but smaller than the pattern piece.  Next, I pull the pattern out from under the interfacing and place it on top lining everything up, making sure that the bumpy part of the interfacing is against the pattern tissue.  Using the following procedure ensures I don’t cut a mirror image of the interfacing.  To prevent the pieces from shifting, I use pins.

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Once I have everything in position, I tack the tissue and interfacing down in a few places with the corner of my hot iron.  Lastly, I press the two layers being certain to go over every square inch until the entire pattern piece is fused.  Afterward, I flip it over once it’s cooled and check for adhesion.  Then I trim the extra tissue and interfacing to the cutting line on the pattern.  At this time, I cut out my pattern size and the shorter length.  When I want a longer skirt, I can use tape on the underside to add the extension and be able to pull the tape off without damaging the tissue.  If I want to have a sewing day with a friend who needs a larger size, we can tape the strip required for the larger size on the underside as well.  

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My pattern pieces fold up well, and they’re sturdy and don’t tear easy.  Additionally, I can see through them when I need to see the fabric.  Also, all the markings are on there, no missed marks or crooked “straight of grain” arrows.  When I want to use the pattern, I give them a light pressing.  Moreover, the pattern piece has a little traction on the underside.  As a result, when I lay it over the fabric it doesn’t slip and slide so much.  I may do this with every pattern I cut out.  The pattern makers claim their patterns are cheap enough to just buy them over again, and when they’re on a really good sale, they’re right.  However, I just bought a blouse pattern, and when I had a question about one of the steps, I was informed that the pattern was discontinued and they couldn’t advise me.  So while they can be bought cheap, they aren’t available indefinitely.

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A website devoted to learning, sharing and teaching a wide range of fiber arts. Inkle, Tablet and Navajo style weaving, Spinning, Knitting, Crochet, Sewing and Lace Making. Silver Work, Beading and Tool Making grace my bench as well.

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  1. […] the other other sizes just in case. ┬áThis is spelled out in better detail in my blog post titled Pattern Preservation, check it […]

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