Lace Easter Dress

Lace Easter Dress

It’s not unusual for me to get really excited about sewing something, do most of the work, hit a hurdle of some sort, and then quit the project altogether. That almost happened with this dress which I started at the end of last summer. I started with my Gemma pattern, which I lengthened and cut in two layers (lace and white jersey knit) and managed to sew together at the neckline, armholes, and side seams. Then I decided it needed a waistband and that’s where the project stalled.

Lace Easter Dress

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago, when I picked it up again, added the waistband — when you have two layers this is as simple as sewing two lines of stitches and threading elastic between them — and hemmed it. I make that sound quicker than it actually was; it took me a few tries to get the waistband location right, but now I have a lovely dress for spring! Whyeeeeee did I wait so long to finish it?!? Sometimes I scratch my head at my own self. But at least it’s finished, and damn if it felt good to cross this project off the WIP list.

Lace Easter Dress

I find most of my lace here in Michigan at Field’s fabrics, which is a West Michigan chain that carries both quilting and apparel fabric. I think I bought at least three other laces, so look for more handmade lace clothing in my future.

Lace Easter Dress

Loominous boho dress

Loominous Dress with Ties

Check out my new spring dress!! It’s so cheery and fun. This boho-inspired dress is the second pattern hack I’ve made with Loominous fabric (the first being my Josephine with tassel ties). I love this “Treasure” print. So much that I also made a Cleo skirt in the black colorway. I also seem to have a thing for ties, which look cute open:

Loominous Dress with Ties
Or tied in a bow…

Loominous Dress with Ties

Or knotted! All cute. Still thinking I might add tassels to the ties (again), though. What do you think? Can a wardrobe have too many tasseled garments? A question I wrestle with at night.

Loominous Dress with Ties

To make this dress, I started with my Ruby dress pattern, modified the yokes and added shortened Josephine sleeves and neckline binding with ties.

I added 3/4″ to the center front of the front Ruby yoke and cut two instead of one on the fold. I also flattened the bottom of both of the yokes as shown below. Before attaching the yokes to the body of the dress, I folded and stitched down the front edges of the front yokes, tacked them together at the bottom, and then sewed as directed in the pattern.

Adjusting Ruby yoke pieces

Adding the Josephine sleeves was fairly simple since they have a gathered area at the top, so I just gathered them until they fit the armholes, attached them, and then sewed the side seams. I shortened the sleeves by about 4″ and then hemmed them up with a 2″ hem allowance. I also centered the gathers on the back yoke more than usual; you can see this in the photo below.

Loominous Dress with Ties

How to trace a pattern

How to trace a pattern

Recently I received an email from someone who had purchased Beatrix in print from a shop and had accidentally cut her pattern pieces out and then discovered that there were pattern pieces printed on the back side of the sheet. I felt terrible, of course (and we have instructions to trace on the pattern sheets for this very reason), but it reminded me that most people don’t trace their patterns, either because they don’t know how, or don’t think it’s important. And although I talk about tracing quite a bit on this blog (in the Luna Pantsalong, the Beatrixalong, and in one of my most popular posts, Making Clothes for me, lessons learned), I didn’t have a dedicated tracing post until now.

So, this post is for all of you who haven’t yet discovered the beauty of tracing your pattern pieces. I never, ever cut into my pattern pieces anymore, no matter what type of sewing pattern I am using. Here’s why I trace and how I do it!

Why trace your pattern pieces?

It may seem tedious, an additional step of prep before sewing a piece of clothing, so why do it at all? It’s true, it takes extra time to trace your pattern pieces, but here are some of the reasons to trace your pattern rather than cut into it:

  • Tracing allows you to keep the original pattern pieces intact, which is especially nice if they are printed on a delicate paper such as tissue, or if they are printed in such a way that the pattern pieces overlap (this is common in sewing books that include pattern sheets).
  • Tracing allows you to use a pattern multiple times in more than one size.
  • Tracing allows you to blend between sizes if you are more than one size (a smaller bust size than hip size, for example).
  • Tracing is absolutely essential if you need to make a significant adjustment, such as a bust adjustment or adding a dart, to a pattern.
  • Even for a PDF pattern, tracing saves paper and ink, not to mention the extra time it takes to tape it together if you need another size or view.
  • Tracing allows you to roll or fold the (usually very large) pattern pages up and put them away so you have more room to work. The tracings are easy to fold up and store, and are smaller and easier to deal with as you cut and sew (just make sure you’ve transferred all of the markings from the pattern before you put them away).

Cutting into a pattern presumes that you will only ever need one size, ever. While that is possibly true for you, it’s not been the case for me. Each pattern maker has their own unique sizing and I’ve made one size of a pattern only to discover that I’d prefer a size larger or smaller. I’ve also gone up and down through a handful of sizes over the past decade for a number of reasons (OK, mostly having kids), and every time I slide up or down a size, I’m glad I didn’t cut up my original pattern. This is especially true when the pattern I’m working with is a paper (printed) pattern, a tissue pattern, or a large-format copy shop pattern sheet.

In summary, tracing a pattern allows you to keep the printed pattern intact for making different sizes or views in the future or in case you need to make any fit adjustments.

What is Swedish Tracing Paper? 

How to trace a pattern with swedish tracing paper

My tracing paper of choice is Swedish Tracing Paper, shown above, which is 29″ wide and comes in a 10-yard roll. This has become more readily available at shops that sell garment fabric, so check your favorite retailer and support small businesses, please! I’ve also purchased it at WAWAK and Amazon.

A good substitute is Pellon 830 interfacing (shown below) but it’s a little thicker than STP, and usually more expensive if you calculate the price per square inch. I also prefer the 29″ width of STP, which I find easier to work with than the wider Pellon.

How to trace a pattern with swedish tracing paper

The main reason I prefer either of these options over basic (and usually cheaper) tracing paper is that it’s much more sturdy and less likely to tear, making it much more useful long-term. It’s about as strong as a dryer sheet, if that gives you an idea, which means it’s pretty hard to tear. If you’ve ever worked with a tissue paper pattern you know how easily those patterns can tear, so having a tracing that is more sturdy than the pattern you started with to me is a clear advantage.

In addition, swedish tracing paper is lightweight, easy to fold up and store, presses beautifully with an iron if it gets wrinkled, and can even be basted or pinned together if you want to do a quick “tissue fitting” (putting the pattern pieces up to your body to see how the pattern will fit).

How to trace a pattern

Here’s Jess to help me show you how to trace!

How to trace a pattern with swedish tracing paper

You will need:

  • The pattern you want to trace
  • Swedish tracing paper or Pellon 830
  • Straight edge and pencil
  • Pattern weights or other items to weigh down your tracing paper and keep it in place while tracing (we’ll be using coffee mugs in this tutorial. Campy-like.)

Step 1. Lay out your pattern on a large flat surface. We’re using Beatrix here.

How to trace a pattern with swedish tracing paper

Step 2. Place the tracing paper over the pattern piece you want to trace

How to trace a pattern with swedish tracing paper

Step 3. Place pattern weights or other objects over the tracing paper so it won’t move around while you trace.

How to trace a pattern with swedish tracing paper

Step 4. Trace around the outline of the pattern piece. Use a pencil and a straight edge, and choose the size line you need using the key given on the pattern.

How to trace a pattern with swedish tracing paper

Go slowly and trace carefully. You want your lines to be nice and clear.

How to trace a pattern with swedish tracing paper

How to trace a pattern with swedish tracing paper

Add notches or markings along the outer edge. You can add these as you go, or after you’ve finished the outline of the piece.

How to trace a pattern with swedish tracing paper

How to trace a pattern with swedish tracing paper

 

How to trace a pattern with swedish tracing paper

Step 5. Add additional markings and labels

The grainline arrow is one of the most critical pieces of information on a pattern piece (the vertical portion of a fold arrow functions as a grainline as well). Add fold arrows, cutting lines, hem lines, darts, dots, and any other additional markings such as pocket placement lines that are present on the pattern piece. You don’t want to have to go back to your original pattern sheet once you’ve put it away because you forgot to add an important marking.

How to trace a pattern with swedish tracing paper

Then add the name of the pattern, the size you traced (you would not believe how many times I have forgotten to do this and then wondered later what size a tracing was), and the pattern piece name and cutting indication (like “cut 2 interfacing” or “cut 2 on the fold”). Now your pattern piece is ready to use!

How to trace a pattern with swedish tracing paper

Flashback Tee for Hugo

Flashback Tee for Hugo

Hey! This little monster turned three last week. THREE! Can you believe it?

He’s such a hoot. This really is the cutest age, I swear. I feel like I’m constantly writing down the hilarious things he says. And he’s still small enough that he’ll wear all the clothes I make for him (unlike his older siblings, who naturally have their own opinions, sometimes strong, about the things I sew for them. Ahem, CLEMENTINE. *coughs*). He definitely has his favorites though, and this Flashback Tee is one of his current favorites.

Flashback Tee for Hugo

I’m sure it helps that this rib knit is crazy soft. I made this tee from the leftovers from this tank dress, so yes, that means we can be (and are often) outfit twins. I never manage to snap a pic on the days we’re both wearing them at the same time, though. You’d think I was busy or something…hahah.

Flashback Tee for Hugo

Flashback Tee for Hugo

Flashback Tee for Hugo

Josephine with Tassel Ties

Josephine Top with Tassel Ties

Josephine Top with Tassel Ties

How long have you been reading this blog? Long enough to remember how much I love a good bit of pattern improv? Maybe you love it too! The desire to mix it up (constantly) is really what drives me to create patterns that are not only distinct, but work well as blank templates. I just love a pattern I can make over and over again yet never end up with the same thing twice. At first glance the Josephine Sewing Pattern might not seem like a great blank template, being limited in some ways by the pleating detail on the front which lends it a very distinct look and feel, but as soon as you lose the tucks on the front it turns into an entirely different animal.

Josephine Top with Tassel Ties

Josephine Top with Tassel Ties

For this blouse, I dropped the hemline in the center to create a shirt-tail hem, like Beatrix or Gemma, extended the bias binding to create ties and added tassels, and gathered the neckline instead of pleating the bodice. The result is a silhouette with more ease (3″ more, in fact) than the original pattern and an overall look that’s quite on-trend, especially in this dreamy Loominous fabric designed by Anna Maria Horner.

Josephine Top with Tassel Ties

Josephine Top with Tassel Ties

Here’s how to modify the Josephine Pattern to get this version!

How-to: Josephine with Tassel Ties

  • Cut out the A/B bodice using the View C cutting lines (unless you are extremely busty you won’t need the C/D bodice. Skipping the tucks creates additional ease, so even if you’re pretty large-busted, there will be enough ease in the pattern that you won’t need the larger cup size. Check the finished measurement chart and then add 3″ to the FM for bust if you’re not sure!).
  • Drop the center of the hem a few inches when cutting out the pattern to create a shirt-tail shape. Draw an S shape with chalk before cutting, remembering that the hem line needs to intersect center front and sides at a right angle.
  • Gather the neckline edge along the pleated areas with elastic thread (see my shirring tutorial) or with basting stitches. I also gathered a couple inches in the back as well. See photo below:

Josephine Top with Tassel Ties

  • Follow the instructions for View C, but add the sleeves as if you were making View B. I also used elastic thread to gather the sleeve caps and ends of the sleeves…it’s just SO. QUICK. !!!

Josephine Top with Tassel Ties

Josephine Top with Tassel Ties

  • After sewing the center seam, press and fold under, then stitch down the edges of the center front extension, since the edges won’t get enclosed by the tucks like they usually are.
  • When binding the neckline, extend the bias binding past the center front edges to create ties, then stitch it shut and add a couple tassels to the ends (I like Liesl’s tassel tutorial over at Creativebug. I used DMC embroidery floss for these)

And that’s it! Wear and enjoy!

Josephine Top with Tassel Ties

Please let me know if you try this version of Josephine. I’d love to see how yours turns out!

For even more Josephine variations, check out the Josephine page. You might also like this version with with release tucks, or this one with release tucks and sleeves!