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Making Tissue Paper Sewing Patterns More Durable

I’ve been going crazy with sewing projects using paper patterns lately, especially baby stuff. Because they’re so small, baby items are often quick and easy and so much fun!

This also means that I’m reusing the same patterns over and over again, but these tissue paper patterns are just so fragile. I swear that sometimes if you even look at them the wrong way they tear, so how are you supposed to use them multiple times and expect them to last?

My favorite way to preserve my patterns is by using fusible interfacing. I know a lot of people will take the pattern and trace it onto another piece of paper but that sounds like a lot of extra work to me! I like something that’s quick and easy and relatively cheap.

To start with you obviously need the pattern you want to preserve. Then you need some fusible interfacing. It’s pretty cheap so I bought several yards of basic lightweight fusible interfacing all at once. Now I have plenty on hand whenever I need.

Fusible interfacing has two sides: one smooth side which will go on the outside, and a bumpy side which is the fusible glue side.

Bumpy side of fusible interfacing

Start by ironing the tissue paper pattern flat. Remember to use low heat and no steam.

It’s easiest if you fuse the interfacing with your pattern before precisely cutting out the pieces. Cut the interfacing just slightly larger than the pattern piece. No need to be precise here. The bumpy side should on the bottom of the pattern. You don’t want to accidentally glue your pattern upside down. I’ve had a couple of close calls but fortunately caught it before I started ironing.

For larger pieces you may want to put a few pins in the corner to keep it aligned, but it might not be necessary for smaller bits.

Tissue paper pattern pinned to interfacing

Now you can iron them together. I like to iron with the tissue paper on the top so I don’t accidentally fuse the interfacing to the ironing board. Iron just outside of the lines but be careful not to iron over the interfacing or you’ll get some of the glue on your iron. Iron from one end of the pattern to the other to fuse the interfacing smoothly without any lumps or bubbles.

Ironing tissue paper pattern to interfacing

When you’re done ironing carefully cut your pattern out.

Cutting out tissue paper pattern

But what if you want to fuse interfacing to a pattern you’ve already used and cut out?

Use the pattern to cut out pieces of interfacing just like you would a piece of fabric. Iron, but don’t go all the way to the edges. As you iron the interfacing may spread farther than the pattern piece and could get onto your iron – especially if it was shipped to you resembling a crumpled lump! (I should have just bought the whole bolt…) Those wrinkles tend to smooth out as you iron.

Then carefully trim off the excess interfacing that has extended beyond your pattern piece. Now you can iron a second time, going all the way past the edges. You may even want to use a pressing cloth between the iron and the pattern just to make sure you don’t get any of that sticky residue on your iron.

I love this method for making my patterns more hardy! It prevents the tissue from tearing and makes it much more durable.

One of my kids was drinking water over my pattern and dribbled on it (I swear they have holes in their lips or something) and I was even able to wipe the water off and the pattern was just fine.

A nice bonus to this method is that the interfacing also tends to grip to some fabrics so you don’t even need to use pins.

I like methods that are cheap, easy, and quick to execute, and this method of preserving patterns checks off all three.

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December 3, 2022 9:24 am

Thanks, I knew I has seen how to do it somewhere! This is just what I need to rescue a vintage pattern before using it. I am grateful for this post, it worked brilliantly using Vilene H250 (I’m in the UK)