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Sewing question


I’ve decided I’d like to sew a dress. I had initially planned on making a Colette laurel, because it’s similar to the Marimekko dress I was eyeing up and needed to test out the shape for, and also because Ive been seeing everyone’s versions around the blogs. However, I wouldn’t be able to wear that until after I’ve stopped breastfeeding, and I’ve pretty much decided to keep going with that for as long as possible before I go back to work in October, and I want a dress I can wear as soon as it’s finished. I haven’t been able to turn up much in the way of suitable dresses that are also beginner level. Really the best dresses are jersey wrap style ones, but I’m not deluded enough to think I can sew with knit fabrics and it look at all of wearable quality.

So the closest I’ve found is this little beauty, Sureau by Deer and Doe. Sureau means Elder (as in berry or flower), which I learnt in Brussels cos that was one of flavours of Bionade they had there. It looks like if I undo all the buttons it should be ok. I haven’t quite committed to buying it yet though, so if anyone has a better suggestion, tell me now!

But my main question for any sewist readers is: What is the best paper for tracing patterns? From what I’ve found out so far I’m considering tissue paper (pieces are too small so would have to stick together and rips easily), architectural tracing paper (has the advantage of being available in up to A0 size, but too tick to be able to pin to fabric) and newsprint (no idea where I would get that from). Advice please!

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  • Sadie 7 May 2013, 8:08 am

    I use dressmaker’s tracing paper, which I think I got from John Lewis though it may have been Jaycotts or somewhere like that. It comes in nice big sheets and is reasonably sturdy to withstand pinning and re-pinning!
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  • Jacqueline 7 May 2013, 8:12 am

    I would suggest butchers paper (or fish and chip shop paper), it’s big, durable and very very cheap to buy from your local butcher. I used to make my own patterns a lot and found this by far the easiest.
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  • Roisin 7 May 2013, 8:50 am

    I think the Sureau is lovely and would probably fit in with your style as well! The Lisette traveller dress (which is a simplicity pattern but I’m afraid I can’t remember which number) might be good too.

    I use Burda pattern tracing paper – it’s tissue so you can see through it and pin it, but I have found it’s much sturdier than the actual pattern tissue. I bought it on amazon, and the sheets are big enough to accomodate most pattern pieces.
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    • Franca 7 May 2013, 10:22 am

      Thanks, shall try that!

  • teeny 7 May 2013, 10:19 am

    I’ve used brown paper…the kind you can buy to wrap packages. It is sturdy enough not to shred, and flexible enough to withstand pins.
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    • Franca 7 May 2013, 10:20 am

      but not seethrough, so how can you trace?

      • houseofpinheiro 7 May 2013, 1:09 pm

        brown paper with a tracing well… it will make darks on the paper…

        I tried plastic, tissue paper, brown paper.. its all ok but its really personal preference

  • Clipped Curves 7 May 2013, 11:42 am

    The Sureau does not unbutton… it’s just a button placket and button sewn on (no button holes). Sorry to bring this news… but hopefully it’ll save you purchasing then having to wait till you can wear it again.

    Another vote for Burda tracing paper.

    You can use paper that you can’t see through if you have a pattern printed on really thin tissue paper. You place the pattern over the thick paper then draw round the size you require using a thick nibbed felt tip pen. This soaks straight through the thin tissue pattern paper onto your thick paper… but it does leave a permanent mark on the tissue paper.

    • Franca 8 May 2013, 8:25 am

      Oh, no, bummer! Not much point making it now then… Thanks for telling me!

  • Rachel 7 May 2013, 12:01 pm

    I have to admit to cutting the pattern tissue rather than tracing because I’m lazy. You’re probably wise to trace though because you never know what changes you might need to make or if you’ll want to make again in a different size (I’m more inclined to do this now I’ve had a baby because I feel like I don’t know my body as well as I used to). When I do trace patterns (eg from burda magazine) I use normal gift wrapping tissue. I have a huge stack (like they have in shops) which I bought from http://www.tinyboxcompany.co.uk/ although it was an end of line patterned one so much cheaper than they are at the moment. I sometimes have to tape a couple of pieces together but it’s not much of a chore and a bonus is I always have plenty of tissue to wrap presents 🙂
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  • MarieAnge 7 May 2013, 3:55 pm

    I use brown paper bags (split open and laid out flat) and use a tracing wheel. It makes little holes in the paper and then you just cut along those lines.

  • MarieAnge 7 May 2013, 3:56 pm

    I use brown paper bags (split open and laid out flat) and use a tracing wheel to mark the pattern into the paper. You just follow the little holes with scissors after.

    As for blank newsprint. You can usually buy it in art stores where art supplies are sold. They come in large sheets, big enough to accommodate pattern pieces.

  • Heather milburn 7 May 2013, 4:11 pm

    I used to get cheap ugly patterns from rummage sales and draw new patterns over top of the old one. Works really well.

  • Susan K 7 May 2013, 4:41 pm

    I’m not such a seasoned sewer, but I use a huge thing of brown craft paper. I also use a tracing wheel and tracing paper. Then I usually use a darker pen to remark everything.
    Now I want to make a dress. I have the perfect red fabric. Unfortunately, I also have a body very much in flux that may stay in flux for a while (if I am lucky enough to be able to nurse) so I’ll have to live vicariously through you. Excited to see what you make!

  • Melizza 7 May 2013, 8:32 pm

    I use dot and cross paper (or patten drafting paper). I used to have a glass table that I would shine a light underneath it, making it easier to trace the pattern.

    A fabulous, but a bit pricey, tracing paper is Swedish tracing paper. It’s see-through and you can actually sew the paper (has the same weight and texture as medium interfacing) if you want to fit the pattern before making it up. It’s great stuff but again, not as cheap as regular paper.

  • Roobeedoo 8 May 2013, 12:56 pm

    Hi there – I would second Roisin’s suggestion about Burda tracing paper because of the size of the sheets – I buy mine from ebay as it’s cheaper – watch out for the postage though.
    Sureau is a good shape for you I think – it works best on a girl with bustage ; ) though it might depend on your nursing bra design – you need a flaps-down style I think. Sureau is quite well-fitted round the shoulders, so you might end up having to undo a lot of buttons to get in and out – not so good on a cold day! A big shawl / scarf / sling might help keep the wind out!
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    • Franca 8 May 2013, 1:00 pm

      So you know it and you’re saying the bottons do open (see comment below saying it’s just a decorative placket)? Confused!

  • Roobeedoo 8 May 2013, 3:31 pm

    Oh duh – sorry! I am thinking of Darling Ranges! Sureau is just a decorative placket. Ignore me :S
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