Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pattern Tracing Paper ~ What works best?

Unless you are a rebel when it comes to sewing, most likely you have used some sort of material to trace your sewing patterns.  If you are like me, you want to find one that works well and is economical to boot.  So which pattern tracing paper works best? Continue reading for a list of pros and cons of the top 3 tracing paper types most sewers use.

From Left to Right: Freezer Paper, Swedish Tracing Paper, Medical Exam Table Paper

Let's weigh out the pros and cons. Here is a lineup of all three in a completed traced and cut pattern.
From Left to Right: Freezer Paper, Medical Exam Table Paper, Swedish Tracing Paper


Pros:
  • Not very expensive $5.76 for the box which is 33 yards x 18 inches wide or about $0.17 a yard
  • Can write on it easily
  • Pencil erases on it
  • Thicker paper - not likely to tear easy
  • Can iron it on to slippery fabric to cut it out easier as it sticks right on; once cut you can just peel it off the fabric or even sew with it still attached and remove after. 
Cons:
  • Can not iron out the fold lines from storage - ironing will melt it to whatever it touches
  • It's thicker fabric so it may dull scissors
  • It is harder to see through to trace patterns as shown below.


Next up: Swedish Tracing Paper
Birch Street Clothing Swedish Tracing Paper - 29"x 30' White

Pros:
  • Can write on it fairly easy with a dull # 2 pencil.  A sharp one tears at the paper
  • Can iron out the creases from storage
  • Doesn't wrinkle easy
  • Very quiet as it is more like fabric than paper
  • Thin like interfacing - not likely to tear easy
  • Holds nicely to fabrics when you are trying to cut them out
  • Easy to see through to trace patterns (see below)
Cons:
  • Expensive $16.94 including shipping for the roll which is 30 yards x 29 inches wide or about $0.56 a yard
  • Pencil does NOT erase on it

Lastly: Medical Exam Paper
Medline Exam Table Paper - Standard - Smooth, 21" x 225 ft - Qty of 12 - Model NON23326

Pros:
  • Very Inexpensive - Box of 12 rolls totals 900 yards of 21" wide for $35.98 or less than $0.04 yard!
  • Can write on easily
  • Pencil erases easy
  • Can iron out the creases from storage (low setting)
  • Easy to pin to fabric when cutting out
  • Easy to see through to trace patterns (see below)
Cons:
  • Wrinkles very easy
  • Very noisy (it is just like the stuff you sit on at the doctor's office)
  • Very thin - possible to tear easier however I have not had issue with this yet

And there you have it!  For me the winner is The
Medline Exam Table Paper - Standard - Smooth, 21" x 225 ft - Qty of 12 - Model NON23326

Why? Because you CANNOT beat that price!  Plus it is see through and works well for my needs.  I have a box of 12 rolls/900 yards that will probably last me a lifetime!  I can deal with the noise - it is just the same with the pattern tissue paper noise.  I can deal with the wrinkles because I can iron them out on low setting.
I just cannot justify the cost of Swedish Tracing Paper anymore.  Plus, I won't run out now in the middle of a project! The medical paper is slightly more thick than the pattern tissue paper to give you an idea of what it is like.

*note: it is easy to trace Ottobre patterns onto the medical paper too.  It is nice and easy to see the colored pattern lines through the paper.

So what are your thoughts?  What do you use to trace your patterns?

 ~ Happy Sewing! ~ Kristin ~

19 comments:

  1. It was great timing for this post. I had saved it to read as I had gotten some Octobre and Burda magazines to try apparel sewing and needed to trace easily. I just ordered the medical paper and will try the Swedish Tracing paper another time as it sounds really good. Thanks for all the great, useful info.!

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    1. How perfect SewLindaAnn! I'm so glad you enjoyed my review. I love, love, love using the medical paper for my Ottobre - I'm sure you will too. It is a lot easier to see the wacky lines. The more I use it the more I love it.
      The Swedish is great too, but just too expensive for me - I seem to trace a lot of patterns :P

      Have fun with the new magazines!

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  2. I have also used butchers paper! It is also inexpensive I not sure the cost effectiveness of it though. One of my daughters currently works at a local grocery store and just brings me about 10ft at a time. I will definitely have to give the medical exam paper a try!

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    1. I'll have to keep that in mind although I'm not sure if it is see-through for me. Thanks!

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    2. Butchers paper has a wax or plastic coating so no ironing

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  3. I have a roll of tracing paper that I bought at Staples. It is very see through, 18' wide and hugely long. I have been using it to trace patterns for a long, long time. I have no idea what I paid for it, but I will be looking for more if it ever runs out.

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    1. Isn't it great how long the stuff lasts! I love it :D

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  4. Thanks for your opinions. I've been stuggling with what is the best material to trace patterns. I found this review right on time.

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    1. Thanks MaryB. It was hard for me to decide at first but I just couldn't justify the cost of the Swedish paper to the medical paper. So it won out and I still use it and love it :)
      I'm glad you liked my review

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  5. Thank you for a terrific review! :)

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  6. thanks so much for this. I just ran out of my beloved Swedish tracing paper again. I'm on Amazon trying to find something just as good but more economical. I think I will give the medical paper a try as I have just bought two Japanese sewing books and plan to do a lot of pattern tracing in the near future.

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    1. Your welcome Nancy! I do love the Swedish tracing paper but it just got too expensive with all the tracing I do. I'm still using my medical exam paper - everyday! for tracing. I love the stuff! Have fun with the Japanese sewing books, there are some beautiful clothes in them!

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  7. This was very helpful. I've never heard of the Swedish paper, and the freezer paper I have isn't transparent enough. I'd been looking at artist tracing paper and engineering tracing paper; never thought of exam table paper. Brilliant. But 900 yards? Phew, the great-great grands will have some left over! I'm going google-surfing now, though. Really appreciate the comparisons!

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    1. Thanks denise! I keep the extras in my sewing closet :) It's nice to not have to worry about running out!

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  8. Thank you for your post. It helps me to make an informed choice since there are many different kinds of tracing paper available out there. I decided to use medical paper. Amazon offers single roll: Medical Pattern Paper: 21" x 225' Single Roll. $10.90 per roll. Not as economical as buying 12 rolls, but I don't do a lot of pattern making. It will work for me. Thanks again!

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    1. glad to be of help Little Cyn! I love learning new tricks to make sewing fun/cheaper/easier!

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  9. Thanks for all this info. I am inclined with you to go with the Amazon deal.

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    1. Thanks Kay! I hope you enjoy your medical exam paper as much as I do!

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