Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life

Swedish Tracing Paper – A review


When we first entered lock-down back in March, I really hadn’t given much thought to sewing or more importantly what sewing supplies I had. I suppose I was mostly preoccupied with what I needed to be able to work from home and for Master Steely to study from home. But as the dull days ticked by I turned to my hobby. Then my machine stopped working and I was left with quite a limited sub-set of possible projects / activities. Essentially, I thought doing some pattern tracing would fill the time, so I ordered some Swedish Tracing Paper. I’d never tried this before, but had heard that it was more resistant to tearing and you could actually sew with it, so I thought I would try it out.

Patterntrace – 10m Swedish Tracing Paper

What is Swedish Tracing Paper?

First of all, mine isn’t actually Swedish, but produced in the UK! Also, it isn’t actually paper either, or at least not the conventional type! It’s made from Abaca fibres. Abaca fibres are extracted from the leaf sheath around the trunk of the abaca plant (Musa textilis), which is a close relative of the banana, native to the Philippines. It is quite widely used for making tea and coffee bags, cigarette filter papers and even banknotes (Japan’s yen banknotes contain up to 30% abaca). This means than any left-over pieces can be put straight in the food waste / compost bin.

What are my impressions of the product?

The Swedish Tracing Paper was supplied as a roll. I know this seems like a small thing, it was immediately obvious that even this made tracing patterns easier. I could manipulate the roll and only unroll what I needed. Much easier than using the huge map-like sheets of paper I have used in the past. There are also 10 metres on the roll, so it can be used for multiple projects.

The paper itself is quite translucent and this makes it easy to use to trace off my patterns from my vintage patterns or PDF patterns. Despite this, it is still much more robust than normal paper. I didn’t manage to tear it when I was doing the tracing. (This often happens when I’m trying to trace normally, manipulating my tracing paper in a relatively small floor space).

Swedish Tracing Paper

The Swedish Tracing Paper is quite translucent and it is easy to see pattern markings through the paper.

It also responds well to being taped together. Because I often alter patterns for fit, I often tape extra paper on and normal sticky tape could be removed easily without tearing too. I think this tracing paper will be very useful for those patterns that I repeatedly use since it is far more resilient to folding and pinning than normally paper. In fact, I scrunched up a piece of it and it is indistinguishable from paper that has never been used, once it has been flattened out and then ironed.

Scrunched vs flatterned Swedish Tracing Paper

Swedish Tracing Paper showing 1. Before where the paper has been scrunched up 2. After the same piece of paper has been ironed flat.

It is also easy to write on it. The results were good when I used biro, pencil and tailor’s chalk. However, when using Crayola felt-tip pen, the ink spreads. I included this type of pen because Crayola Washable felt-tip pens are one of my favourite means for marking fabric.

Marking on Swedish Tracing Paper

Marking on Swedish Tracing Paper: 1. Biro 2. Pencil 3. Crayola Washable pen 4. Tailor’s chalk

For comparison, below I’ve listed different tracing papers to show how the Swedish Tracing Paper compares. I’ve also included greaseproof paper – I haven’t used it myself, but Hila at Saturday Night Stitch apparently uses catering size baking parchment as a cheap alternative.

Name of Paper Company Dimensions of pack Price per pack Price per metre
Swedish Tracing Paper Patterntrace 1000 cm x 100 cm £15.80 £1.58
Pattern Paper Prym 1000 cm x 100 cm £8.90 £0.89
Tracing Paper Hemline 3 sheets – 76 cm x 102 cm £3.20 £1.36
Tissue Paper Burda Style 5 sheets 140 cm x 110 cm £5.96 £0.77
Greaseproof paper WIlkinsons 5000 cm x 37.5 cm £.50 £0.03

I haven’t used it yet for sewing or draping, just because I haven’t tackled that type of project this year, but it could prove useful for making a rough sort of toile.

Final thoughts

It was only when I folded up several patterns and put them back on the “pattern shelf” that I noticed another benefit of using this Swedish Tracing Paper, a bonus not mentioned by other people who’ve reviewed it. It folds up really flat compared to paper. I can see my stack of traced papers really diminishing in size if I carry on using it. (So greater storage space for more patterns, of course!)

Swedish Tracing Paper folds up much flatter than paper.

Swedish Tracing Paper folds up much flatter than paper. Left: paper patterns, right: Swedish Tracing Paper patterns

I would thoroughly recommend using the Swedish Tracing Paper. It makes tracing easier; it’s easy to manipulate and resilient to folding, taping and pinning. It is also translucent, so I don’t miss any notches or critical markings on my pattern by accident. However, it is quite pricey and for this reason, I will limit its use to those patterns that I intend to use time and time again.

Author: steelyseamstress

Sewing a new wardrobe

5 thoughts on “Swedish Tracing Paper – A review

  1. It sounds very useful. I must admit I use baking parchment which is fine but not very wide do I often need to piece together. Sellotape unpeels on it so I have to resort to stapling pattern pieces together. Then I’m worried the staples could snag the fabric. 😟

  2. I hear lots of good things about using Swedish tracing paper for tissue fitting. Interesting that it folds up small like that.

  3. Pingback: Tai Chi Uniform: First thoughts on designing the pattern | Steely Seamstress

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