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Tracing paper for sewing patterns: the shopping guide

Hi there! Today we’re gonna talk about the types of paper you can use to trace your sewing patterns.
When I started sewing, I didn’t really think there could be so many options for pattern tracing… I just entered a stationery store and bought some standard tracing paper (here in Italy they sell it in sheets of about 1.50×1.50 m). And that worked for me! I’ve seen my grandma using it and my mom too for years, so… why not?! Well, if you happen to sew just from time to time, you trace a few patterns and you use them only once or twice, then you shouldn’t look for anything different than a lightweight tracing paper. But if you’re kind of addicted to sewing, you trace patterns that you modify and sew and sew and sew again, then it’s time for you to think of other options.

Tracing paper is kind of OK, it’s transparent enough and it’s cheap (well, I have to say not as cheap as it used to be!). But it’s also so thin and fragile that it tears quite easily so if you want to reuse your patterns without wasting time for tracing them again and you want to preserve them, there are some other good options for you!

Let’s start from something a bit more resistant: baking paper. It’s transparent enough for you to see through and they sell it in rolls of different sizes. It works if you typically trace small pieces, but for garments I’d say it’s a bit too small (here in Italy the largest is about 50cm in width).

If you want to go for something more specific for sewing, Burda Style offers some options as tracing paper, from the standard lightweight one to the plastic one. However, to be honest, I’ve never tried any as I find them pretty expensive.

Amazon is always a good answer to many sewers’ needs: you can find a vast assortment of tracing paper types at much lower prices than elsewhere.

If you find it useful to have marks as reference, you can buy some spot and cross. And, finally, if you wanna go fancy and trace your patterns on a paper that you can directly sew, then your pick is the sewable swedish paper. Basically, these rolls replace your muslin/calico fabric, so that you can sew your toile/muslin/mock-up (however you want to call them!) directly from your traced pieces. The only downside is that swedish paper tends to be quite expensive. I think it might be useful for patternmakers who have to sew one, two, three muslins to make the whole process faster. On the other hand, if you’re just tracing a commercial pattern in general I don’t think it’s worth to spend that extra money. Up to you, though!

What I found to work great for me are plotter paper rolls. You can find them in a wide range of sizes and, even if you think you’re spending more money, you actually have something like 50m of paper that will last forever! Plus, as it is a continuous roll, you can cut it and use it in a much more efficient way than pre-cut sheets. I personally have it in two different weights. The standard 80/90gsm weight is not see-through so it’s not suitable for tracing but it’s great for patternmaking if you just have to draft your own pattern. That’s durable and works great! Then for tracing I use a 60gsm one (you find a 62 cm version here or the wider 91 cm one here ), which is much more transparent but still robust enough to last in time (you can see an example in the picture below).

60g paper for tracing sewing patterns


Well, that’s all I have to say about tracing paper. You see? There are actually more options than one could think… and how about you? What kind of paper do you usually use to trace your patterns? Post your comment below!

Hope this has been useful. Next we’ll talk about measuring tools

Ciao ciao!

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