December 28, 2015

Unexpected essentials: Swedish tracing paper

Have you ever used Swedish tracing paper? If so, you understand: nothing but the most extreme glowing hyperbole can do it justice. If you haven't used it, you're going to think I joined a Swedish tracing paper cult. Just wait. You'll see. Join us. Join us. Join us.

Mmmmmm. Swedish. Photo source:
In the BSTP (Before Swedish Tracing Paper) era, I was tracing patterns and making adjustments on regular grocery store wax paper.

Sure, it wasn't very durable, but neither are printed patterns on tissue paper. And sure, wax paper is narrow, so I had to tape pieces together in order to trace a skirt or something, but, realistically, that's a small inconvenience.

Good old wax paper. My sad crinkly friend.

Wax paper was cheap, readily available, and served a dual purpose in the kitchen. As I've said before, I value frugality in my hobbies. In fact, if wax paper is working out for you, keep it up! Who am I to judge?

But then.

Oh my.

One day, while ordering notions from Wawak, the shopping cart engine suggested I add some Swedish Tracing Paper. I'd heard of its glories from Oonaballoona and Oliver + S, And lo, a large box appeared on my porch a few days later. Inside: glorious stuff.

Sewing's equivalent of heavenly ambrosia, nectar of the gods, comes in a roll now.

You can iron it, you can fold it, you can unfold it.

You can fold it and unfold it and fold it and unfold it times eleventy quadrillion, and it'll be fine. 

You can write on it with any pen or pencil. 

It's more drapey, more fabric-like, than wax or tissue paper, which means if you're trying a pattern on your body, it hews closer to the finished product.

It takes well to regular Scotch tape. This comes in handy for FBAs (full bust adjustments) and other adjustments where you cut, rearrange, and tape pieces back together

You can even sew pieces of it together, try them on, remove the stitches, make fitting adjustments, and repeat. I've done this for pant legs. Works great. 

Only thing is, if you're testing the fit of something like a dress, you'd need to make the whole thing out of Swedish tracing paper. Which means cutting out two of everything. Which kinda defeats the purpose of using it as pattern paper. In that case, I would just make a muslin, and then transfer the adjustments to my Swedish tracing paper pattern.

Here's a pattern piece made of Swedish tracing paper. It's extremely durable. You can't see in the photo, but I just used a plain ballpoint pen to mark on it. 

You can get Swedish tracing paper at Wawak, Nancy's Notions, Hart's Fabric, and elsewhere online. Ten yards usually lasts for four or five patterns, depending on what you're making.

What do you think -- is Swedish tracing paper worth it? Not just the monetary cost, but the cost of learning a cruel fact of life: once you go Swedish, you'll never go back, baby. Let me know your thoughts in the comments. And I always love to hear about other materials for making and altering patterns. The more frugal, the better!

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