Team Cut or Team Trace?

Image of a pair of scissors and a pencil on a white background separated by a row of irregular gray dots

If you have been sewing for some time, you have been at one time or another faced the question: Are you Team Cut or Team Trace? If you are new to this heated discussion, cut and trace refer to how you choose to treat a paper pattern. Some people cut their patterns while others trace the pattern to another sheet of paper and cut the traced version. 

There are advantages and disadvantages for each of these choices—and there is even a third option, one that requires the use of a projector. I will not go into this one as I have never used it, and I don’t plan on purchasing a projector exclusively for this purpose. Seamwork Magazine has a great article on this topic in case you are interested.

Team Cut

Image of various sewing shears, sewing scissors, and rotary cutters hanging from hooks on a metal bar attached to a white trestle.

You are the fearless of the sewing world. You are not afraid to take scissors to pattern. Your size is pretty stable, so you have no need to keep the original pattern intact. You blend sizes and make any other changes directly to the pattern. 

Pros of Cutting

• The sewing process is faster.
• It is cheaper, as you don’t have to invest on extra paper to trace.

Cons of Cutting

• You will only have one size of the pattern.
• If you size changes, you will have to buy the pattern again.
• If you make any mistakes while cutting the pattern, you might have to buy the pattern again.

Team Trace

Image of a sleeve pattern piece partially covering a copy done with pink marker on a roll of paper on a green background

You are prudent. You know that things change, so you like to keep your options open. You don’t mind taking the extra time and effort to trace because you want to preserve the original pattern. You like that you can make changes and blend sizes without messing up the pattern.

Pros of Tracing

• You preserve your patterns.
• You have multiple sizes of the pattern available to you in case you size changes.
• You can blend sizes and make changes to the paper more easily.

Cons of Tracing

• The sewing process slows down.
• It is an added cost as you will have to buy extra paper to trace the pattern.
• If you are not precise, you may make mistakes to the copied pattern that will affect your finished garment.

I Am …

Image of three rolls of white paper, one rolled out and two unrolled

… definitely Team Trace!

• I am someone who takes her time… to a fault. Paralysis analysis is a condition I am all too familiar with. 
• I have commitment issues.
• The idea of cutting into a pattern gives me the shivers. 
• My size has fluctuated throughout the years.

Pick a Side!

No one team is better than the other. Much like everything in life, your choice will be based on your needs and wants. If you are new to the sewing game, try each option and figure out what’s best for you.

Are you Team Cut or Team Trace? Let me know in the comments.


  1. November 2, 2022 / 10:52 am

    I am team cut, because I usually buy a pattern with one project in mind, a dress for an event or a wedding. I haven’t bought one with plans of reusing. I don’t see frequently enough for that to be an option for me. (My size fluctuates a lot.)

    • SewGoth
      November 4, 2022 / 5:33 pm

      I usually sew the same patterns over and over, but my body shape varies; this is why I save the paper patterns intact.

  2. Lodi
    November 2, 2022 / 7:25 pm

    Team trace! I like to preserve the original pattern for all the reasons you mentioned: the cost of the original pattern, grading between sizes, and fluctuating size. I actually enjoy the tracing.
    I really dislike Vogue patterns that don’t have overlapping sizes, because I invariably need several sizes in the middle, ie 2 patterns.
    I trace onto freezer or tissue paper. What do you trace on?

    • SewGoth
      November 4, 2022 / 5:38 pm

      I use medical paper. It lasts forever; I just wished it was wider. I never tried freezer paper. I heard from someone else that baking paper is good too.

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