First Dress: Pattern Pieces

I’ve never used a predefined pattern before, especially one with so many different markings. Thankfully, the McCalls pattern (variation D) was quite straightforward and had just six pieces to cut out.

Neither you or I could have predicted a time-lapse video of me dumbly tracing shapes would exist, but here it is. I’d say sorry, but I had to sit through it!


First Dress Project: Pattern Pieces from Narelle Gibbons on Vimeo.

It turns out tracing and cutting out pattern pieces is a fair chunk of work! All in all, it took me around two hours to fully trace and cut out the six pieces. I’m really not sure if that’s a normal length of time for something like this.

I’m one of those people who think they’re really quick and proficient at something, then discover they’re actually rubbish when they do it next to other people. Like the time I went swimming with my primary school class and realised I had the propulsion of a hungover brick.

Regardless of how long it took, there are some things I learned from the process.

Weak Paper

Pattern paper is the weakest, flimsiest material I’ve ever laid my hands on. I don’t exactly have a light touch, so I ended up ripping it in a few places, even though I tried to be very careful.

I completely understand why you would want to trace it and put it back in the packet straight away. It’s definitely not something I would want to cut fabric around. I bought Burda Tracing Paper, which was easy to trace through. It’s also marginally tougher than the pattern paper, which was reassuring when cutting it later.

If I were to do it all over again, I would strengthen the edges of the tracing paper with cellotape before cutting the pieces out. This should give a tougher edge that will last longer and allow you to reuse the pieces for other projects. I’m not sure how long these pattern pieces will last once I cut fabric around them.

Good Tools

Last year I fell in love with the idea of being all arty, sitting in a park with a coffee and a scarf, sketching interesting strangers. That lasted around five minutes when I realised my ability to draw extended only to a gaunt looking Sonic the Hedgehog. Thankfully, I picked up some nice pencils and a good eraser in the process which came in handy for this. Especially the eraser – if you use one that’s too hard, you’ll rip right through the tracing paper.

I also used Fiskars Dressmaking ScissorsOLFA Rotary Cutter (45 mm), my ‘faithfull’ extra long ruler and a quilting ruler. To weigh the paper down, I just used some random heavy things on my desk which seemed to do the trick.

The desk I used wasn’t wide enough, which was frustrating when tracing wide pieces. I had to move the paper a few times and it took a while to match them up again. I’m still not 100% confident that they’re exactly right. When I do this again, I’ll have to use a wider desk.

All things considered, it was quite painless. Tracing the right size was quite easy as the pattern uses different line patterns for each size. Two hours later and I have usable pattern pieces that I can rely on to give me the right shape of fabric.

Look at these beauties:

Next step: prepare the fabric.

You know what that means? FABRIC SHOP TRIP!

I can hear my debit card crying already.

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