how to – transfer a pattern

21 Sep
September 21, 2015

a million years ago {LITERALLY} i went to fashion design school. i learned all sorts of useful things, and then went to work as a designer in a corporate environment for 12 or so years, and promptly forgot most of them.

but! every so often, i get inspired to sew, and when i do, some of those things come back to me.

so you may have heard {OR NOT} i’m going to be teaching intro apparel sewing at circa15 fabric studio in kirkland. insert loud, high pitched *squeal* here. i’m very excited, and somewhat nervous, but mostly… ADULTS. and talking full sentences, and showing other people how to do something really fun!

i decided that our class needs a full size run of samples in this tank. if you’ve ever created a full size run, you might know, you start with the biggest size and go down- cutting a size of each. but… say you make all the sizes, and then want to go back and make a 2 and a 10. you can’t, because your patterns are completely cut down to zero, and all the grading is gone. you’d have to rebuy the pattern and start over. but, if you transfer the pattern to separate sheets before you start cutting, you’re set. it’s time intensive, but as with most things, the work pays off in the end. now you have a pattern that’s separated, and you’ll be able to use any size you want, FOREVER.

there’s nothing to be intimidated by in regards to transferring. it can be time intensive, like if you trace the whole pattern, but, it’s super easy. and most likely, you’re only going to be tracing one or two. so, you’ll be done in no time.


budget friendly is my favorite.  above is a photo of the supplies you’ll need for pattern transferring. the only thing missing in my picture is a pin. just one. 1- removable tape. i discovered this as a designer, now i can’t live my life without it (and double sided. seriously. game changers.). it’s handy to have on hand for all sorts of things. just sticky enough to hold something in place, but easily removable without tearing. you will love it. 2- a pen and a marker. sharpie is my preferred for both, but any kind will do. 3- your pattern, ready to be traced. i like to iron the sheets (no steam) and trim, so they’re manageable. 4- paper scissors- for trimming the pattern, and cutting your new paper 5- transfer wheel. i can’t find the one that i got in school, but i found this one mostly useless. the pokier the better. i think the ones they gave us in school could have killed someone. i probably hid it away from my toddlers, or they discovered it, and are plotting. either way, you want this to be pokey. it’s how your shape gets transferred to the new paper. 6- by far the treasure of this group- ikea kid paper. it’s kind of impossible to find good paper for tracing patterns that’s not a million dollars, or so big, one person can’t manage it. this roll is $5!! it’s manageable, thin enough, and you’re never going to run out. i traced every piece of this pattern (0-18, front and back) and i still had well over half a roll left. worth the trip to ikea, and the kid section. cross my heart. last thing you need– a cutting mat. i take this for granted i think, because i have 3. but the bigger the better- large enough to accommodate your pattern piece, so you don’t have to keep rearranging. this mat will allow the pokes on the wheel to go through. if you don’t have a mat, maybe a really large piece of cardboard, or foam core. you need something that gives a little, kind of a cushion. doing this on a hard surface will not have as good results.

let’s get started! cut off a sheet of the new paper, big enough to accommodate your pattern piece.


above: tape your pattern piece to the new paper with your removable tape. the smoother the better.


above: trace your desired size. i tend to do all the curves, and then get out my ruler (below) and do all the straight edges. make sure to follow the correct line around all the curves.


above: the ruler just makes those straight edges go so quick, and bonus? they’re straight.


above: make sure to transfer all the details from your pattern to the new piece. here, i mark the dart. you can either trace the lines exactly, or mark where they start, and draw them in with a pen. get the ending circle placed correctly by poking through with a pin, and then drawing a small circle around that hole.


last step- in the hopes of staying somewhat organized, always transfer all the info. the name of the pattern, how many to cut- don’t pretend like you’ll remember (i don’t). the less left up to figuring out later, the better. mark it once, and let your best, most organized self live in perpetuity (as it relates to pattern transferring- come see my filing cabinet to know i could use this advice in other areas of my life). don’t forget to take the tape off, and put away the original pattern pieces. and that’s it. now you’ve got the size you want, separated out, and ready to be cut from fabric. you can either follow your tracing wheel holes, or connect the dots, and outline your pattern piece. i personally just cut following the perforations, another small time saver, but either works! good luck! xoxo- k.

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