Tissue Tracing Paper Uses

There are few tools I use more in my sewing room than tissue tracing paper like the rolls pictured above. I buy tissue tracing paper by the roll in two colors and two widths. If I had access to other colors I would probably purchase those too. The cost is about 20 to 30 cents per yard so it is much less expensive than fabric or patterns.

The number one reason I use tracing paper is to preserve patterns. It is much easier to be sure all of the pattern pieces stay together if you don't have to cut them apart. I started tracing patterns when my children were small and there were multi size patterns included. Kids grow up not down so this saved me from having to rebuy favorite patterns as they grew.  

The second reason is when I draft my own pattern. I use it to make a small sketch of my plan, then on the same piece of paper draft any pattern pieces I need to make this happen. 

When I sew for myself there are always some alterations so I trace patterns for me with the alterations. This just helps me not make a cutting error before I even get started on the project.

Tissue tracing paper is also much stronger when doing paper test fittings. 

More recently I have deconstructed favorite articles of clothing as they start to wear. It really is easier to copy something that fits than try to recreate it from scratch. Once I have the fabric ready I place a layer of tissue paper on top of the fabric. This will be between the fabric and the pattern or original garment pieces. If I need to match a pattern I can see through the tissue for easy pattern placement. I make sure to place the tissue paper straight with the selvage edge. Before I lay out the original deconstructed pieces I mark the straight of grain on the paper about six inches from the edges. This marks the straight of grain for me so I have it when all of the cutting has been completed. Next I lay the pieces of deconstructed garment on top of the tissue and pin through all of the layers. If I have a place I plan to alter I can mark the tissue as I pin. With all of the pieces pinned I will create a new pattern when I cut the new garment. This saves time and tracing. Also make your tailor tacks through all the layers and a lot of your pattern markings will be transferred easily.

Tissue paper also helps when sewing or cutting fine, slippery fabrics. I usually use scraps of my tissue paper on the seams but Gretchen Hirsch described a way to make this much easier in her blog, Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing.  Here is a link to her blog about cutting slippery fabrics.  

Another use I have found for tissue paper is to match seams. Fabric with large repeating patterns, like flowers or smaller woven patterns like plaids are sometimes hard to match. If you need to be sure the plaid or print pattern on the fabric will match at critical places, you can trace the pattern over the seam area, including the seam line and then pin that tracing at the matching seam. It makes it very easy to see how to place fabric so that you get the desired alignment for a match and include the necessary seam allowance.

I write out fitting notes before a project on tissue paper. They will be there while I cut and plan for easy reference, then I can store them with the finished pattern. Also a good place to write in planned design notes - ie: add a pocket or certain kind of trim.  

I also use scraps of tissue to list items I may need to purchase to finish a project, I can pin little snippets of the fabric so I have a swatch to match if I need to pick up a zipper, buttons, thread or other trims. 

And one last item I use scraps of tissue paper for is to make small paper balls for the cat. If I give her something to play with while I am working at the cutting table, she is much less likely to jump up and assist or inspect the project while I work.

What tool do you find indispensable?


  1. I'd like to follow your blog with bloglovin, but when I attempt to do so, I get the message that no such site is found. I wonder if somehow your settings have hidden the real url.

    1. Thanks for that info. I will see if there is a setting I need to update/change. Would explain why I never know who is here. :)

    2. Dora, I finally got it figured out. I think you can follow on Bloglovin now.


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