How to Deal with Multi-Sized Patterns

August 17, 2010 in Find It / Buy It, Tips & Tricks

Most garment patterns these days are multi-sized, meaning there are several sizes layered on top of each other then printed on the tissue. This isn’t a problem if you only want to make one size. However, what if you want to make one size now, and a different size later?  One way to solve this problem is to trace the size you need now, leaving the tissue pattern intact. Most people have tissue paper—the kind used for wrapping gifts. That’s the first choice of many people who trace pattern pieces instead of cutting the original pattern. Another choice for tracing is non-fusible interfacing. I use lightweight and buy an entire bolt when it’s on sale, or wait until I have a coupon. Interfacing works well because it won’t tear easily, if at all. I like to use a fine point, permanent marker for marking this material.

Swedish tracing paper is a made to be basted and has a good drape. You can trace the pieces, baste them together, make adjustments, take out the basting, and you’re ready to pin it to your fabric. Swedish tracing paper comes on a roll, and you can find it at along with other online outlets. There are other brands of tracing paper also. Some have gridlines or dots to help with placement. Some come on rolls and some in sheets. Do an online search for “pattern tracing paper” to come up with several different options. When you trace a pattern, be sure to write the pattern company name, number, and size. You should also mark the grain line, notches, and any dots or symbols that are used for matching.

After you cut out the pieces, put them in a large Ziploc bag, along with a photocopy of the pattern envelope.  Label the bag with the size of the traced and cut pieces. All of the original pieces go back in the pattern envelope and are either filed, placed into the Ziploc bag, or placed in its own bag. I use binder clips to clip all the bags from the same pattern together.

  If you trace off another size, place it in its own Ziploc bag along with a copy of the envelope. Clip it to the other traced-off sizes. While tracing is great, it’s not my favorite! My favorite way of having multiple sizes of the same pattern is to wait until it goes on sale (sometimes for $1.00 or less!) and buying a copy for each size. I can then cut each as I need them, put them into their own labeled bag, and not have to bother with tracing at all!

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