Making your own stylish garments is enjoyable work, whether you are doing it for yourself or for the fashion industry. Designs literally start on a drawing board and then follow a number of steps before it’s a wearable garment. Part of that process involves creating a pattern to follow.
Measure. Draft. Cut. Stitch. Re-draw. Re-cut. And maybe even going back to the drawing board. It’s all in a day’s work when you’re designing and creating garments, bags, and other stitched textile items for your items or product lines, and perfecting the patterns you’ll use to make them.
Sure, you can use regular printer paper, for which you’ll need tape. Or you could use brown paper grocery bags, which you’ll also need to cut and tape together. For small, one-off projects or for teaching someone about pattern making basics, these might be suitable options. But for serious designing and pattern making, you’ll need more than that.
If you’re using a commercially printed pattern, you can trace them onto another type of sewing paper to keep them intact. You can then make alterations on the traced versions for a custom sewing pattern, without altering or damaging the original. This method comes in handy for the professional sewist when there is one pattern, and you need to make multiple copies.
Professional designers need paper that is bigger, wider, less opaque, stronger, and suitable for tracing, marking, cutting, and revamping. However you design your products, the right sewing pattern paper is essential to layout, trace, draw, and transfer designs onto something usable.
Read below to learn more about the different types of sewing pattern papers and what they are used for.
Perhaps your first thought is that tissue paper is best for creating temporary or preliminary patterns, but when it comes to sewing, that is not the case at all.
Tissue paper also helps when you are working with particularly difficult fabrics, such as oilcloth and vinyl. It provides a slippery barrier that prevents sticking on the presser foot and throat plate while stitching, as well as stability for thinner fabrics like silk that tend to slide. Knits are protected from picking, running, and other damage during the stitching process. It also works as a seam stabilizer and can be easily torn away when it’s no longer needed.
Dotted paper, also commonly known as marking paper, alphabet paper, or alphanumeric paper, is your best choice for tracing, retracing, altering, and marking patterns that need complex alterations. This brighter white paper contains small blue letters, numbers, or other dot markers at one-inch intervals, creating a grid for accurate pattern making.
This type of paper is slightly heavier than tissue paper, stronger than tracing paper, but thin enough to see through to trace lines. Pencil marks also erase easily from this paper, and it is easy to cut without tears or curling edges. However, it’s not quite thick enough for making patterns.
Our dotted printer paper comes in 48” wide and 60” wide rolls, so your patterns will all fit, and you’ll rarely need more room to trace or retrace.
Brown craft paper is useful for so many things in your home or shop, and it comes in widths from 48” to 66”, and in rolls of 800 feet (you can also buy smaller rolls of 60” wide in 10 yards or 30 feet). At 40# thickness, it’s slightly thinner than paper grocery bags and more flexible.
Craft paper is used in shops to underlay fabrics to ensure correct stitching, as well as creating patterns for your designs. You can also use it to preserve tissue patterns that you frequently use because it’s stiffer than other papers; it’s also ideal for making patterns from existing garments.
Do you ship your own products? Craft paper is also great for packaging and wrapping merchandise for shipment.
If you use CAD pattern software to design your products, you probably have a large plotter printer to go with it. Much like blueprints and engineering drawings, you’ll need a specific type of paper for this big printer. Similar to the paper used for blueprints, plotter paper is available from 36” wide to 72” wide, in a variety of roll lengths.
You can also use plotter paper for hand-sketched patterns. Because it is more translucent than the brown craft paper, it’s easier for tracing, while also being more durable than tissue or tracing paper.
Many sewers will claim, hands down, that manila pattern paper is the best paper for making patterns. Like office folders, manila pattern paper is the 2X (0.010") thickness to make it strong, but flexible. This durable, sturdy paper is perfect for patternmaking and allows for accurate marking. Favored by the professional trade, as well as home and hobby sewists, this paper is thicker than tracing paper. You can finalize your patterns for regular, repeated use.
This paper is the same one used in production patterns in the industry and is also suitable for use with heavy vinyl, nylon, and leather. It's smooth, but cuts clean with sharp edges, and is heavy enough to use to make templates.
How do you keep track of your patterns, notes, design elements, notions, and alterations? Are you using scratch paper or the backs of pattern pieces? Or are you just trying to keep track through memory? That’s an easy way to forget something the next time you use a pattern.
We have a better solution.
Pattern cards are an easy way to keep track of everything you and your staff need to keep a list of everything that’s relevant to each of your designs. From pattern pieces to instructions, notions, fabric types, and other notes, these simple cards are key to keeping everything organized. Use them in the shop with the pattern, and for giving specific instructions to the factory that creates your products for sale.
Our pattern cards come in packs of 10 or packs of 100, so you’ll always have them available. Order just what you need, or order a stack to keep them handy.
We offer a range of papers in various widths and lengths for different sewing and professional needs.
If you need help selecting the right papers, or help with any of our products in our web store, give us a call us at 1-800-868-4419. We’ll be happy to discuss what you need and help you select the right sewing tools, machines, parts, notions, and supplies.