Preserve your sewing patterns
We love that our designs have a long lifespan beyond their original printing. Vintage Vogue Sewing Patterns are often considered collectors’ items and we all know the joy of finding a tried and tested “TNT” design that you can’t help but make several versions of.
Your favourite sewing patterns should be preserved so you can use them over and over again without fear of ripping or distorting them. And patterns go out of print after a few years so you can’t rely on replacing the pattern easily if it’s one you love. As all bodies change over time, you may find you want to make a different pattern size for a future version so we’ll also show you how to preserve all the sizes in your pack in this article.
Our tips help you maximise the life of your sewing patterns, but when the time comes to say goodbye please recycle your pattern if it’s no longer usable. (If someone else can get some joy from it, why not donate the pattern to charity?) All our patterns are widely recyclable and are partially made from recycled material making them a sustainable choice for sewing pattern lovers.
Desperate to get hold of a certain style? We re-release popular or timeless patterns with new numbers to keep them in circulation so make sure to check out our wide range at sewdirect.com
Let’s look at the best way to preserve your patterns:
When you use a sewing pattern for the first time, rather than cutting through the lines, you can use dressmaker’s carbon and a tracing wheel to transfer the lines onto the fabric, preserving the tissue. That way you’ve still got the original pattern in case you need to use another size later. Alternatively if you’ve already cut out the design, avoid using pins and creating holes that will weaken the tissue and get bigger over time, use pattern weights before tracing out.
Carbon comes in multiple colours to suit the fabric you’re using and lasts a long time. Burda Style Carbon Paper comes in packs of white and yellow, or blue and red, which includes two 57x83cm sheets. They are £5.95 each from sewdirect.com.
Place the carbon below and above your fabric before placing the tissue on top. The serated tip of a tracing wheel will take a toll on the tissue over time but this is a great option for multiple uses of a pattern.
How about folding the larger sizes out of the way? This method also preserves the full size range of a pattern piece but does make it slightly more prone to ripping. You cut out the pattern piece roughly then fold back the excess tissue along the size lines. You’ll need to snip into the tissue up to your chosen size line to help you fold back curved edges. It’s a great way to get the most out of your pattern piece if you know you’ll want to make another size in the future.
Also if you’re keen to make a short sleeve or short hemline for your first version of a pattern, don’t cut off below that style line, simply fold it back out of the way. Then you won’t be hunting around for the cut off tissue piece if you decide to pick a different length second time around!
Make a copy
Handling a pattern over and over, unfolding and refolding, roughly shoving it in an envelope, or worst of all accidentally letting your dog chew on your pattern pieces, can all lead to damage. Similarly if you run a tracing wheel over and over across thin tissue too many times, the paper will start to rip and you end up repairing it with tape.
Instead trace a copy onto thicker paper stock or card and transfer the pattern design number, size you’re tracing, notches and markings. To make it easier to transfer details in the future you can cut or punch holes in the card then you can easily pop your tailor’s chalk pencil or water erasable pen through for each important mark.
Tissue paper copies
Prefer something lightweight and slightly sheer? One of the perks of tissue is how you see through it for fabric print placement. Also with lightweight fabrics it can be easier to pin them to a lightweight tissue avoiding distortion for slippery silks or floaty chiffons.
Pick up a pack of excess tissue paper from Butterick and trace a copy that replicates the original pattern! A pack of 5 Sheets (76cm x 127cm) costs £1.95 from sewdirect.com. Or try Swedish Tracing Paper which is a slightly more robust white tissue paper that you can still see through and can also sew into a quick toile.
I’ve also had success with applying fusible interfacing to the back of pattern pieces. You gently press the pieces with a dry iron, pin to the fusible and cut out the shape, then fuse the two together. The trick is to use a dry iron as wet paper will not fuse, use a pressing cloth to avoid ink transferring to your iron or board, and to fuse until the glue has fully melted.
The reason I don’t often recommend this method as fusible interfacing can be pricey and better kept for use in dressmaking projects! Good in a pinch or if you’d found some on sale.
If you’re not someone who can neatly refold all your pattern tissue sheets in seconds like an OS map, you may struggle to fit your tissue back in its envelope. My top tip is to squash your folded tissue with a warm iron to flatten it back into shape ready for the original envelope. But you can also upgrade to an A4 envelope with plenty of room for pattern pieces, instructions, hacked copies of the pieces and more. I love the envelopes from www.patterntrace.com that have an expanding gusset and cover sheet front with space for pattern imagery and notes.
I prefer to avoid this option to minimise plastic but a ziplock sandwich bag makes an envelope replacement for a damaged pattern envelope. It’s slightly bigger than the original meaning you can store everything inside without taking up a lot more space.
Storing your patterns neatly instead of cramming them in an overfilled drawer or box is a great way to lengthen their lifespan. If you don’t have a dedicated sewing space, something decorative that looks nice on display can be good too! Magazine boxfiles come in great prints and designs, or you could treat yourself to one of the pattern storage boxes from the Simplicity Vintage Range. There are three different designs for £19.99. Plus we have additional storage options to explore!
Finally, why not take a digital back up of your instruction sheets by scanning or photographing them and saving a copy on your computer.
WELCOME TO SEWDIRECT
It looks like you’re visiting us from the AUSTRALIA region.
Would you like to shop our sewdirect AUSTRALIA site?
No, stay on the UK site
Are you sure you’d like to cancel your membership?
Your Sew Today VIP Membership 40% discount on all products on sewdirect will no longer apply.