Selecting and Using Equipment: Pattern Alteration Supplies


Do not use fabric shears and scissors for cutting paper. Paper and cardboard dull the blades so they will not cut fabric well—or at all.

Any scissors are satisfactory for cutting paper as long as they cut evenly and are comfortable to use.


This tool is used for truing the intersection of horizontal and vertical lines that must meet at right angles. A 90-degree angle is also used to maintain or establish the level of dart tips and pattern corners during alteration.


French curves and other commercially prepared devices are very useful for drawing smooth curved lines and restoring smooth curves on altered pattern edges.

For an adaptation of the pivot method, use an appropriately curved marker to quickly reproduce and alter the pattern at its edge instead of tracing a curved edge of the pattern.


A pencil is often necessary for recording information, writing notes, and marking pattern alterations. Tracing the original pattern cutting line with a black-lead pencil is the initial process in the pivot method. Use a red pencil to mark the new cutting line. Medium soft black lead (no. 2), kept reasonably sharp, is easily seen on pattern tissue; a harder lead tears the pattern.


Any recommended art eraser is satisfactory. These are of a soft composition and erase well with little pressure against the tissue. Pattern tissue is easily damaged by the hardness of pencil erasers and other firm compositions.


Frosted tape can be written on with pencil or pen and doesn't deteriorate as quickly as clear tape. A half-inch width is satisfactory for securing altered pattern areas to alteration tissue. Increase accuracy and efficiency while taping pattern areas by pinning the affected pattern area over corrugated cardboard or a cork board before adding the tape. Use short sections of tape and don't overlap. Long sections of tape tend to pucker the pattern tissue and shorten the pattern area.


Rubber cement will neither shrivel nor harden paper. Pattern tissue is so thin, however, that this glue will pass through the paper. Altered pattern areas will stick together when the patterns are folded. A glue stick is very satisfactory on thin paper. This glue is in solid form and is placed in a storage device that operates like lipstick. The glue is wiped across the paper edge that's to be fastened; the glue sets immediately and permanently. Keep the container rightly capped following each use to prevent deterioration of the glue.


Push pins are easier to locate and to grasp than metal-head straight pins. They are very useful for securing pattern and alteration tissue in place prior to taping or gluing. A cardboard must be used underneath to protect the table top. Push pins may be used for all three methods of pattern alteration but are especially useful for the seam and pivot methods.


Tissue paper is the same weight as pattern tissue. It is easily obtainable and inexpensive. Select pastel-colored paper when it's necessary that the alteration be noticeable.


Fusible pattern backing gives body and durability to pattern tissue. The back of entire pattern pieces can be covered for basic patterns that are intended for frequent reuse. A backed pattern is also much easier to alter. Strips of fusible backing can be used as alteration paper in place of tissue and tape or pins. Fusible pattern backing such as “Fash-on” and “Bak-a-Pattern” are available at notion counters and are sold either in a pre-packaged quantity or as yardage. Pattern backings look much like lightweight fusible interfacing. Fusible inter facing can be used for pattern backing, but don't use interfacing that shrinks with heat. The shrinkage will change the pattern measurements both in width and length. Plastic-coated freezer paper also may be used but it makes the pattern very stiff. The stiffness is useful, however, in making slopers (see Section 10).


Use flat corrugated cardboard under patterns during alteration. Pins can be easily inserted to hold pattern areas securely to the alteration tissue. Using cardboard under the pattern helps ensure the accuracy of a flat, wrinkle-free altered pattern. The cardboard also protects the table top.


During fitting, alteration, and garment construction, many situations arise that necessitate making lists or other records of information. Using a note pad helps to prevent writing vital information on odd scraps of available paper or on pattern envelopes; notes written in such a manner are later unintelligible or lost entirely. An envelope, notebook, or small box will keep notes accessible and usable. A swatch of pertinent fabric attached to the note adds to its value; the note also can be pinned to the pertinent pattern envelope or garment in construction. Note pads composed of self-adhesive slips of paper are made in various sizes. The adhesive adheres to most surfaces and permits easy removal without leaving a residue or a stain.

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Friday, 2009-10-16 18:32