1.06.2012

and now for something completely normal.


(ETA 2016: Every time I trace a smaller pattern piece on my ironing board, I wince at the thought of this tutorial. Guys, don't trace your patterns by sliding them under magnets. It's a TERRIFICALLY  bad idea. I'm leaving it up here for posterity. But hopefully the red warning label will catch your eye. Read on, if you like.)

i realize that many of you come here for the sewing.  (some of you come here through do the math.  it's confusing, i know.  shhhhh.)  and yet i bombard you with exorcist christmases and sweaty ballerinas.  so i thought i'd share a little tracing tip i came up with the other day.  it involves the power of MAGNETS.  ooooooooh.

my beloved ikea ironing board is made of metal (or the ikea version of metal), and it's fairly wide.  i've traced many small pattern pieces on it using my pin catchers as weights, the magnets inside creating a slight attraction between paper and board.  my ah hah! moment came yesterday when i realized removing the middle man (plastic case) would up the force field.

if your ironing board is metal and flat (not too much padding), you're good to go.  grab an invisible ruler, tissue paper, flat magnets (you can find these in packs of 10 at any arts & crafts store), and a very fine pen that writes easily without requiring much pressure.


this method is easy when the pattern piece is small, like a facing, but i'll show you how to trace sections that won't fit on your board.  have a swig of coffee (or tea, whatever, but by all means put some bailey's in it).  repeat. now, align the pattern edge with the edge of the board.  let the excess hang off towards you.  then align a sheet of tissue paper to the edge.  all edges of pattern, tissue and board should meet.

yes, that's better homes and gardens in the background.  it was the booby prize when readymade got canceled.  i am NOT happy.


place several magnets around your sandwich, enough to keep the pieces in place.  one near the grainline is especially nice.  mais, not too close to each other as they will flock to their mates!  (yeah, DUH, but i did it twice.)  the love affair between magnet and metal board will keep your pattern nice and secure.  trace away!

(but oona, i hear you cry, what if i break through the paper to the board and mark up my cover?  okay, one: that's what washing machines are for, and two: use a light touch, meathooks.)


when you've traced all you can, move each magnet one by one to the edge of the board closest to you, making sure you're not moving your papers.  don't slide the magnets.  I SAID DON'T SLIDE THEM.  


then lean ever so gracefully over and grasp BOTH paper edges delicately, and with an even pressure pull the sandwich away from you.  hey!  you must pull both paper edges at the same time and equally!  go ahead, pull...


until you've reached the point where you can begin tracing again!  you can see my turquoise tracing lines match up perfectly.  spread your magnets out, and you're ready to start again.

so.  did you know this already?  was this completely pointless?  how do you trace your patterns?

(ps: faye, here's the double agent dress tutorial you were looking for. bonus, it involves way more alcohol!)

31 comments:

  1. Ooh! I gotta figure out if my ironing board is like this... because that would be friggin' fantastic! Thank-you :)

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  2. Freakin' awesome! It's all science-y and crap! Can't wait to try this!!

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  3. Genius! I've been making do with a large window and tape. This would make it so much easier.

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  4. Cool tips. I am in the market for a new floor standing ironing board. Right now I just have the tabletop.

    Omg, I am not the only one that was not amused about ReadyMade being canceled. I give my copy of BH&G to my coworker.

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  5. Brilliant! Now if only I could find that ironing board...

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  6. Very cool. I had been just laying it out on the table or such, but this will work much nicer.

    Thanks!
    R

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  7. Love this post!! And hahahha...yes, those are my favourite rulers (grumble, grumble...I still don't see how one uses those things....lol.) ;)

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  8. I'm so going to buy some magnets today !

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  9. This is some kind of genius!! Is this what you're capable of when totally sober or was your mind power enhanced with booze?? :o)

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  10. Terrific tip! Thanks for sharing!

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  11. Very cool, hadn't crossed my mind.

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  12. Very clever, and whatdya know, I have exactly the same ironing board!

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  13. As a beginning sewist, I used to cut my fabric straight from the tissue paper pattern... which is not conducive to reusing patterns! Then I saw online how you can iron fusible interfacing to your tissue paper pattern to make it reusable. I now do that so the pattern pieces are heavier and easily reusable. I also use a rotary cutter to cut fabric, which is a great time saver if you have a steady hand.

    I know it's not the expert way of using patterns, but I inherited a ton of interfacing and think it is a good alternative to tracing!

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  14. Uh, I sort of think I need to try this asap.

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  15. Brilliant! I I'm going to have to try this out!

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  16. @ lizz: ah, i've wanted to try the window forever, but i'd be like a goldfish here...

    @ trice: ain't it bullshit how they played that? i was all I DID NOT SUBSCRIBE TO BH&G WHO THE HELL DO THEY THINK THEY AR--- oh.

    @ debi: teehee!

    @ nettie: always the booze, wanett. always the booze.

    @ aubrey: whoah, you're like an interfacing millionaire if you can use it for strengthening tissue paper.

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  17. I use pieces of my moms chess board pieces that she bought while visiting in Turkey..they are super heavy and I use those to weigh the paper down, then use my rotary cutter...makes things so much easier!

    Come visit my blog : www.sweetsurrenderart.com
    See you there!

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  18. What have I taken from this? I want turquoise tracing lines. That, and I may now have to reshuffle my "hated sewing tasks" list - your method makes so much sense! Grading can now be reinstated to the top of the hate list. Now I just have to find some big tissue/tracing paper (weird, but I've had trouble finding it). Glad to see that your ironing board is long enough to hold your pattern and a glass of wine. These are important features in household items.

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  19. Ooona - you're a genius!! Thank you for this - you just saved my sanity!

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  20. wish i have that ironing board.. i never even considered a possibility that tracing patterns can be anything but huge pain in my ass.. i use floor, books and remotes as weights and then perform odd mix of tai chi and yoga above it to trace the pattern..

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  21. In a rare moment of brain activity, I was wondering - would this method work for tracing pre-cut vintage pattern pieces? Would you just have to be more careful/tricksy with the pulling to reposition as they aren't on a square piece of tissue?

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  22. @ amanda: the answer, my heady friend, is YES. i just traced a cut vintage pattern this afternoon using the magnets, and cursed as the pattern shifted! you are correct, you just have to be MUCH more careful. it's the even line and even pull that makes it easy.

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  23. Hum. Cool stuff, now if I only had an IKEA ironing board. Wait, I do, but it's both lumpy and itty-bitty. I wonder if my dinner table would take well to being painted with magnetic paint...? ;)

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  24. Great idea! I usually spread out on my cutting mat on the floor with regular ol' weights, but this would be great for times I don't have a large piece to trace or not that much space to open up the mat! ;)

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  25. I do it like this, only on the table with large washers/pattern weights. So, not really like this at all. I need to go to Michael's already and get those graphing rulers. They're like $4.

    Nosy rosy asks, do you write for this Do The Math thingie? Cool.

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  26. You can use tuna cans as weights -- with the tuna still in them. Ditto soup/vegetable cans, bags of beans or rice. Or do as I do -- "retire" ancient sports trophies from hidden corners of the church basement, deconstruct them, and use the "marble" pieces as pattern weights. Nice and heavy and extra smooth for gliding across pattern paper, and they don't rust. (I use the rest of the trophy pieces to make new, fanciful trophies for awarding to my family and friends for special accomplishments.)

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  27. Um, you're a genius. I want more of these nifty sewing trick tutorials!

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  28. I'm clapping my hands at you. Bravo!

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  29. This is a great tutorial! Thanks Oona!

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i thankya truly for taking the time to comment, i love a good conversation-- and hope you know my thanks are always implied, if not always written!