Turn a Commercial Pattern Into a Permanent Pattern





Introduction: Turn a Commercial Pattern Into a Permanent Pattern

This instructable details how to turn a commercial pattern (those awful tissue patterns) into a permanent, easily reusable pattern.  The benefits of having a permanent pattern is that they're much harder to destroy, they're easier to work with (no pinning!), and a single pattern can be used to create multiple sizes without needing to buy addition pattern packages.  Once you have a permanent pattern, you can weigh it down on your material and trace directly onto material using tailor's chalk or a pencil.

Before making a suggestion, please read through the replies that have already been posted.  There's a good chance it's already been discussed at least once.

Step 1: Materials

You will need:
  • "Weights"
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Posterboard
  • Light colored marker
  • Black marker
  • Hole punch set
  • Hammer
  • Scissors
  • Straight-edge or ruler
  • Self-healing Mat
  • Pattern

Step 2: Loosely Cut

Loosely cut out the pattern piece.  Don't worry about being precise.

Step 3: Iron

Gently iron the pattern piece on medium heat without steam.  Steam can damage the pattern.  Be careful!

Step 4: Weight

Weight the pattern piece down on the posterboard.  Try to conserve space, but don't put lines on edges - give a little buffer room.

Step 5: Trace

Using a light-colored marker, lightly mark the pattern lines by gently marking over/through the tissue pattern piece.  This takes some gentle work to keep the lines correct.  Be sure to mark all the triangles, guides, darts, grainlines, etc. for the size you are making unless you already know they are not necessary for what you are making.

Note:  The marker will trace through the pattern paper.  This photo is just to demonstrate how the ink bleeds through which is what you want.  If you look at the upper part of the photo, you will see the green marker that I used going over the pattern paper, and you can see the result at the lower part of the photo.  There's no need for tracing paper or flipping the pattern paper up and down to get the lines right.

Step 6: Retrace and Label

Retrace the markings you made and label appropriately.  Use a straight-edge/ruler to make nice crisp lines.  It isn't necessary to mark the outside edge so long as you can easily see it.

Label the piece number, cutting instructions, size, and pattern name and number.

Step 7: Cut

Cut out the piece and all indentations.

Step 8: Punch

Using a hole punch and hammer, punch out the markings on a self-healing mat.



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What about saving a pattern on a fabric like white canvas or muslin? most muslin is 90-108" wide so you only need to buy half the fabric needed for a particular pattern, maybe less since everything everything is single thickness and not cut on a fold, you can mark them with Sharpie, put a tiny piece of stabilizer and make holes, and for storage it can folded. When cutting the pattern it has weight and wont be affected by a draft and lays flat on fabric you're cutting. Also, this allows for bigger projects like full dresses to have the pattern pieces saved in one piece instead of frakenstein-ing smaller piece together. If the fabric gets wrinkled you can press it back.

I hope this is ok to post. I already have my patterns but am looking for someone/a company who can cut them for me ie cut the fabric itself rather than create the patterns. Does anyone know where I could go for this?

This is something I am also looking for. I make clothing for Etsy, but have Carpal Tunnel on both sides! I need someone else to cut.

Hi Katejenkins and retroronda !

I would be happy to cut your fabrics. I have a part-time job in Virginia and I am looking for this kind of opportunities to fill up the rest of my time and earn a bit of extra money.

I am not a professional but I have sewn a few dresses and skirts for myself. They came out pretty good and I really enjoyed all parts of the process.

Let me know if you are still interested and we can talk about it!

I love this. I did it and it is so wonderful to not have to cut and pin fabric around those atrocious tissue paper patterns. Thank you for this. I do have a question for you though what do you do when the pattern is larger than your posterboard?

I read through quite a few of the comments, and I am sorry if I missed this. But where would you recommend buying cardboard in larger amounts. I need rolls of thick quality cardboard for my patterns because the basic sheets at the stores are not long enough.

Thank you.

I read through a lot of the comments and did not find my method. I use this mainly for doll clothes and sewing projects other than human clothes, scrub hats, bags, etc. I was the fortunate recipient of several boxes ( couple hundred sheets) of xray film. Theses were outdated and could not be used and would have been thrown out. They are lightly tinted, but I can still see through them to fussy-cut. They are about 15x20 inches so work great for smaller pieces. (That's why they wouldn't be good for large clothes patterns). I just cut out the tissue pattern and trace it onto the film. I can mark all the guidelines. I store these in large plastic bags with the original pattern envelope or, if they are too large for the bag, in the drawer in one of my great yard sale finds, a drafting table. The table is solid, by solid I mean heavy, wood. It measures 4' by 8'. It is higher, great for cutting while standing. The drawer is very large but only about 3" deep. Still it holds lots of patterns for sewing, crafting, and stained glass.

HELP PLEASE. I just found this site; got all my materials and ready to copy to posterboard. But I need to sew all 3 sizes men's vests. HOW? You indicated this could be done, but if I cut along the line for one size, I cannot see how I can go back, using the same posterboard, and cut out other sizes. I'm desperate to get started but afraid to make the first cut! H E L P. And great thanks for this tute.

You trace one size of a pattern piece onto the poster board, move the pattern piece to a clean section of poster board, trace another size, and so on. So if there are 8 pieces for each vest and you need that vest in 3 sizes, you will wind up with 24 poster board pieces all together.

FOLLOWUP ON "HELP PLEASE" message just sent. To reply, my email:


Eagerly waiting response and again, thanmks so much.