Preserving Patterns with Freezer Paper

Surprisingly, the most use item on my stock of sewing supplies is freezer paper.  You can increase the life of your store-bought patterns by using freezer paper to create an iron-on template for the exact size you want to cut out from the original pattern.

This post will teach you how to create such a template and then cut that pattern piece out of fabric.

For this tutorial, you will need:

  • a sewing pattern
  • fabric for your pattern
  • a box of freezer paper
  • masking tape
  • 2 pairs of scissors – one for fabric, the other for paper
  • an iron and ironing board

freezer paper tools

Fold out your pattern on a table so that the piece you want to copy is completely on the table top.  Now, place a piece of freezer paper over the portion you want to copy.  Make sure that the freezer paper is shiny-side down, so that you are using the regular paper side for tracing.  Grab a pen or a pencil and trace out the part of the original pattern you want to replicate.  Remember to copy any markings like darts, contact points, special instructions, etc.

freezer paper layout

Tip:  I use a glass table for tracing so that light can shine from underneath and I can see the lines from the original pattern better through the freezer paper.

Once that’s done, cut out the template from the freezer paper and place your fabric and the template (shiny-side down) on an ironing board.  Iron the template onto the fabric using a low heat setting.  The paper will quickly attach to the fabric.

freezer pattern iron

Remove the fabric from the cutting board and cut around the template to create a piece of fabric of that exact shape.  Once you are done, slowly peel the template away from the fabric.  Transfer any special markings, while you are peeling, to the fabric using tailor’s chalk or a washable fabric pen.

Done. 🙂

This technique is excellent if you need to cut multiple copies of the same pattern piece or want to cut out a practice muslin first.  You can tweak the freezer paper copy as needed to get a perfect fit without ruining the original pattern.

Here is the first dress I made using this technique.  The pattern, New Look 6912, is still in excellent uncut condition and will make an appearance in future projects.  I deconstructed the grey dress into its individual pieces (cowl bodice, belt, and skirt front/back).  I then cut out the skirt pattern from the original skirt and cut the bodice from new purchased fabric to give the dress a fresher look.  The belt from the original dress was just an elastic band so it was easily reused to attach the bodice and the skirt together.

grey dress layout

The Facts (Grey Dress Upcycle)

Difficulty Easy
Completed July 2011
Pattern New Look 6912
Fabric Existing grey empire-waist dress
Jo-Ann Fabrics Silky Print
Notions Invisible zipper
Total cost $9 (plus the cost of the original dress)
Lesson learned Adding casings to sleeves

Tracing patterns onto freezer paper

grey dress full


7 thoughts on “Preserving Patterns with Freezer Paper

  1. the freezer paper is a nifty idea. i use my paper patterns over and over and each time i cut out, the pattern gets smaller and smaller! thanks for the great tip.

  2. Thanks. I tried using freezer paper for tracing a pattern and it worked well. Do you really iron directly on the freezer paper?

    • Yes, I use a low heat setting to go over the paper with the shiny (wax) side down on the fabric. It’s worked for me on cotton, costume satin, and chiffon. I would suggest trying it out on a scrap piece of fabric first.

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