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Tracing Paper and Easier Paper Piecing

By Addy Harkavy (

In a quest for the right Mariner's Compass for a memorial quilt, I drafted quite a bunch until I got one I was pleased with. Since I wanted to paper piece it, and since paper piecing on copier paper leaves something to be desired, I decided to try to photocopy my design onto lightweight tracing paper cut to letter and legal size.

The first pass jammed my Toshiba (heavy duty) photocopier, and then the big lightbulb went on! I used magic tape to affix a piece of lightweight tracing paper 1/4" down from the top of a piece of regular copier paper. Then I put my draft on the copier's plate about 1/2" down from the top of the page mark. Fed the assembled tracing paper/copier paper unit through the manual (single sheet) feed. Et voila! Worked fine. A bit of a pain in the neck to make enough for all the subunits and major units, but it came out great. Unlike punching paper with an unthreaded machine needle, there's no shirting from one layer to the next because there are no layers, so copies should be consistent.

Since mentioning this to a few people, Mary McManus informed me that she tricks her laser printer into dealing with tracing paper the same way, and Ann Munro tells me that newsprint from the art supply store runs through her laser and inkjet printers as well as photocopiers without jamming.

In all cases, just remember not to use the paper tray and hand feed each sheet.

(c) Copyright 1996 by Addy Harkavy. All rights reserved.

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