Create Paper Pattern Pieces Using a Projector

Hello! It’s Sarah from Sewsaltyandfree! I want to talk to you about making paper pattern pieces with your projector! That sounds like it defeats the purpose of the projector a little, right? But stay with me! It’ll all make sense soon!

I’m a very hands on person, so I LOVE having a paper pattern to touch and feel and move around my fabric, but I do not like printing and pasting a bunch of pages together. There are SO many benefits to both projected and printed patterns. I want to discuss a few pros and cons of each and show you how to eliminate my LEAST favorite part (and my number ONE con) of paper patterns!

Let’s start with some of the cons about paper patterns (honestly, I don’t have that many cons, I personally LOVE paper patterns!) I really only have two cons. The first one being having a paper pattern to store. I’m a pretty minimalist person, so having additional items to store around my sewing room is a big con for me.

My second (and biggest) con with paper patterns is printing and pasting! It takes me SO much time to print out 20 or more pages from my printer, then lay on the floor (while trying to keep 4 cats at bay) pasting together each page one by one making sure nothing is crooked. Because we all know, if one of your pages is crooked just the slightest bit, it throws the alignment off by a TON by the time you get to the end of the row. And then we’re busy unpasting and realigning the pages to get everything lined up. Then, after we’ve finally pasted all the pages together, we have to cut every piece out of the giant piece of paper we just made! I loathe printing and pasting and cutting…

BUT! I also loathe a few things about projected patterns! Lets talk a bit about them!

Like I said before, I’m VERY much a hands on person. So not being able to touch the patterns and hold them in my hand is a big negative for me. I love being able to have patterns in my hand! This comes in handy for so many reasons!

One reason is I can plan out the use of my fabric better. If I only have a yard of a certain fabric (or I've used that fabric for another project and have an awkward shape/amount left), I can take all of my paper pattern pieces and “puzzle” them (so to speak) onto the fabric to make sure all of the pieces I need will fit.

It is VERY difficult to this with a projector (I have tried and succeeded, but it was a HUGE challenge!)

Another reason I like having patterns in hand is I like to have all my required pieces in a pile to see (especially with Ellie and Mac patterns that come with so many great options, you don’t always need ALL of the pieces, it’s nice to have the ones you do need set aside and ready to go. That way I don't accidentally cut two different neckbands, etc.). Then I can take them from one pile, cut them out of the fabric and lay them aside. This helps me see that I have cut all the required pieces and haven’t missed anything (or cut a piece I didn’t need). This also comes in handy when using multiple fabric colors. I like to label my pieces with the color I’m going to use and have a pile of pieces for each color so I don’t get confused and cut the wrong piece out of the wrong color.

My other BIG con with projected patterns is the difficulty in making personal fit adjustments.

I have heard of different ways to do these on the computer, but I am not very techy and honestly, I just don’t feel like figuring it out when there are so many other reasons I also prefer to have my paper patterns with me!

I also sometimes forget the size I made and have to remeasure and redo all of my adjustments when going to project my pattern again. (I know you’re supposed to measure every time you make your pattern, but honestly, a lot of times if it’s a pattern I’ve made in the past and I’m still wearing a piece I’ve made out of it and it still fits great, I won’t remeasure, I’ll just use the pattern I used to make the last one). With projected patterns, this is very difficult for me. A lot of times (especially with things like bras) I won’t remember what size I made so I have to remeasure before I can start cutting my pattern. Now, I could make a spreadsheet and keep track of my sizes used for each pattern that way, but I’m not going to do that, lol!

I also have a lot of personal adjustments I need to make with my patterns. I always need to adjust for height and for sidewaist. I also sometimes make a few other adjustments just for personal preference. I like that I can easily make these adjustments on paper patterns and then they are saved for me for next time.

So, lets find out how to make this happen! How can we combine these two worlds and make our lives that much easier? The answer is TRACING!

I bought a roll of butcher paper and I use my projector to project the pattern onto the roll of paper and trace my pattern pieces and needed markings onto the butcher paper.

I love that I can still have the paper patterns I love, but it cuts WAY down on the time it takes to print and paste all those pages together. This makes it easier to make any adjustments I need to make and allows me to “puzzle” all the pieces onto the fabric better to get the most bang for my buck with my fabric. I like laying all my pieces out on my fabric before I start cutting and I just can’t do that easily using strictly my projector, so this gives me the best of both worlds!

These are just a few photos from my last blog (found here) where I created beautiful Easter dresses for my daughter and me. I hacked the forever flounce to create a double flounce as well as to add a skirt to make dresses. It was SUPER easy to make the modifications using paper patterns and was a HUGE time saver not having to print of and paste together all of the pattern pieces (especially for this hack because I would have had to print of and paste together two sets of flounces for each dress!)

I hope you enjoyed this tip and I hope it makes your sewing life a little easier and more efficient! Enjoy your sewing and let me know your thoughts or if you have any questions at Sewsaltyandfree!

(Written by: Sarah Lewis)