4 Carbon Paper Alternatives For Sewing

Several intricate processes go into making beautiful and perfectly fitting clothes. One of them is pattern design. 

However, when creating patterns on garments, replicated and improvised pattern markings are the trend. Replicated patterns are transferred unto the garment from a fabric with the intended design through tracing and pattern instruments. Such patterns can also be modified during the tracing process. 

The instruments used are called pattern papers, and they include carbon paper. Carbon paper has always been the go-to tool for transferring and tracing patterns on fabrics and garments.

However, because carbon paper is originally used for something else, you may not find it when you need it. So, there should be alternatives, right? Yes, there are, and this guide will discuss the various carbon paper alternatives for sewing.

What Is Carbon Paper?

From the phrase “a carbon copy,” which means an exact copy, you can deduce the meaning of a carbon paper. A carbon paper is a thin paper with a one-sided pigmented coating placed between two sheets to transfer what is typed or written on the top sheet to the bottom sheet.

In sewing, it is placed between two fabrics for transferring design patterns on the top fabric to the bottom one. When tracing of the top fabric occurs, the pressure allows the pigmented coating to appear with what is traced out on the bottom fabric.

What Is Carbon Paper Used for?

In sewing, the carbon paper used for replicating design patterns is known as a dressmaker’s carbon paper. 

It is used for transferring and preserving original design patterns from a piece of fabric to another one. It can also be used to create alterations of patterns by modifying the original design while tracing. The pigmented part of the paper is placed on the fabric to be designed. On the other hand, the non-pigmented part faces underneath the top fabric.

Instead of creating a certain pattern repeatedly, you can get the design using a dressmaker’s carbon paper. The dressmaker’s carbon paper replicates design patterns like writing carbon paper replicates what is typed or written.

4 Carbon Paper Alternatives

The following are some of the carbon paper alternatives used for drawing patterns on fabric.

1. Manila Pattern Paper

In the professional world of sewing, the Manila pattern paper is the acclaimed best paper for making patterns on fabrics. In addition, it is used in the commercial production of patterns in the design industry.

This pattern paper is similar to office folders with its 2X (0.010″) thickness, making it strong yet flexible. It is durable and produces accurate pattern markings when used appropriately. It is thicker than normal tracing paper, and with regular, repeated use, it can create your intended design.

Manila pattern paper is suitable for use with heavy vinyl, nylon, and leather. It is smooth with clean cuts and sharp edges. It is heavy enough to use to make design templates.

For use, cut the amount needed for your fabric and place it between the pattern paper or patterned fabric and the new fabric. Then carefully trace with a tracing pen, wheel, or stylus. The new fabric comes out well-patterned and has no sloppiness.

2. All-purpose white paper roll

For heavy-weight fabrics, the All-purpose White paper roll is a good carbon paper alternative. This paper roll is usually seen in photo backdrops and lightweight banners. It is heavy and thick; hence, patterns traced on it will fit better on heavier fabrics. It can also work on lighter fabrics, but it requires effort.

It is a good alternative because it is slightly transparent for transferring and tracing pattern markings. It has good durability and good flexibility as it can be folded or rolled.

All-purpose white paper roll is easy to pin down. Therefore, it is stable and easy to work with pattern paper. It is easily accessible as you can get it in any art and craft store. Because this paper roll creases more than regular carbon paper, it is best to store it in a rolled format and not folded.

3. Tissue paper

Tissue paper is a great carbon paper alternative, especially for difficult fabrics, such as oilcloth and vinyl. It serves as a slippery barrier that prevents fabrics from sticking on the presser foot and throat plate while stitching.

It also provides stability for thinner fabrics like silk that tend to slide. With Tissue paper, Knits are protected from running, picking, and other damage during stitching. 

As a duplicating paper for patterns on fabrics, tissue paper is thin enough, and when placed well, the markings come out beautifully. It works as a seam stabilizer, and you can easily tear it out when you no longer need it.

Place a folded tissue paper of equivalent length of the new fabric or design space and put it in between the two fabrics. Trace the pattern with a tracing wheel as it smoothly glides over it, unlike a pen that can puncture it.

Alphabet Printer or dotted paper for retracing patterns

The dotted paper is also known as marking paper, alphabet paper, or alphanumeric paper. It is the best choice for tracing, retracing, altering, and marking patterns that need complex alterations.

It is a brighter white paper that contains small blue letters, numbers, or other dot markers at one-inch intervals. With these markers and the intervals, this paper creates a grid for accurate pattern making.

It is thin enough to trace lines and slightly heavier than tissue paper but stronger than tracing paper. It is easy to cut, and pencil marks can be erased easily. However, it may not be thick enough for making patterns.

Like every other carbon paper alternative, it is placed in between the patterned fabric and the yet-to-be patterned one.

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