In the Studio: Making Patterns, Part 2

Using the right types of paper are important in making patterns, but marking tools such as tracing wheels and pens/pencils are just as important. Precise measurements and accurate lines/marks are critical in making patterns that provide the perfect fit, which is why tools such as tracing wheels and pens/pencils play a critical role in pattern drafting. Stable tracing wheels and perfectly sharp pencils ensure that notches marked on each pattern piece match; the grainlines are perfectly straight; and placement details such as buttons, buttonholes, belt loops, pockets, etc. are accurate. 


Tracing Wheels

Tracing wheels are handy little tools. They are used to trace lines, notches, points, etc. and, when used with tracing paper, transfer those marks to paper or fabric. For draped designs, any fitting changes marked on the muslin or test garment can be transferred to a flat paper pattern using a tracing wheel. They are indispensable and must be stable (no wobbling while tracing) and comfortable to hold -- both to ensure accuracy.


Tracing Wheels: Here are four tracing wheels that are commonly used for making patterns. I prefer using the bottom two, as they are the most stable (they don't wobble when I trace) and accurate. The one on the bottom, a needlepoint tracing wheel, is especially useful, as it yields are fine and precise perforated line, and can be used on fabric without tracing paper. The Clover version comes with two wheels that can be detached and moved to different slots on the holder to easily trace the stitching line and the parallel seam allowance width. Clever! 


Pencils and Pens

Believe it or not, the right pencils and pens can make a big difference in pattern making. The main thing to remember is that the points need to be kept sharp -- sharp points mean thin, accurate lines. 


Pencils and Pens: Mechanical pencils are the best for pattern making, at least in my opinion. They yield a sharp, precise line every single time, without having to be sharpened. Red pencils are needed to mark grainlines and notches. Fine Sharpie markers are great for noting special instructions on the patterns, such as plaid fabric patterns, stripe patterns, etc. Extra fine pens are perfect for writing the reference information for each pattern piece (name, size, etc.). 






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