There are lots of methods for fabric marking including using tailor's tacks and tracing paper and a wheel, but this is the method my Mum taught me and the one I normally use. Transferring markings from your sewing pattern to fabric with chalk and pins requires a minimum of tools and is easy enough for sewers of all levels.
Fabric Marking Tutorial for Beginners
For fabric marking, you need:
- Tailors Chalk or other marking pens or tools.
Marking tools include:
- Chalk pencils
- Tailors' chalks - These are normally rectangles or triangles and come in different colors.
- Removeable pens - These pens disappear either with heat, water or time.
You will generally just need one fabric marking tool per project but you may find that different projects and fabrics suit different kinds.
Always test that the chalk or marking tool you use on your quilts or sewing projects can be removed and won't leave a stain or residue. Dark fabrics can be marked using a white or yellow color.
Further Reading: Fabric Marking Tools.
How to Mark Fabric Using Pins Step by Step
Step 1 - Match pattern
Place the paper pattern back on top of your cut fabric piece. Try and match up the edges as closely as possible.
Step 2 - Insert Pin
Stick a pin through the pattern where you need to transfer the mark. In this case, I was marking the point of the dart in a bodice.
Further Reading: How to read sewing pattern symbols
Step 3 - Lift and Mark
Lift up the pattern slightly and mark where the pin goes through. If the pin goes through 2 layers then just lift up the back and mark that too. You can mark the spot either with another pin or a chalk pencil.
I always prefer to stick a pin in first and then completely remove the paper pattern before marking where the pin's position. I find this easiest where I have to transfer several marks in the same area.
If you are transferring dart markings, join the dot to where the dart starts at the edges.
Alternative Fabric Marking Methods
Fabric Marking with Carbon Paper
Dressmaker's carbon paper is specially designed for fabric and comes in many colors to suit different fabrics. Yellow is great for darker fabrics, while blue and orange can be used on lighter fabrics. Don't use regular paper carbon paper as it will mark the fabric and not come off and may even smudge.
Carbon paper is used in conjunction with a tracing wheel to draw the lines.
Place your fabric on the table wrong side up and put the carbon between the fabric and the paper pattern. Use the tracing wheel to draw over the lines you need to transfer. This is very easy and will result in a line made up of fine dots where the spokes of the wheel have pressed against the carbon.
The carbon will, of course, be smaller than the pattern so shift it along as you trace.
Further Reading: How to Use a Tracing Wheel
Fabric Marking with Basting
Simple up and down running stitch can be used for fabric marking. Use long stitches in a contrasting color so you can remove them easily when the item is finished. The advantage of using this method is that there is no danger of you rubbing off the markings.
When the stitches are really large this is a surprisingly quick method. I like to use basting as my fabric marking method for marking pleats and long lines.
Fabric Marking with Tailors Tacks
Tailor's tacks are an old-school method of marking delicate and expensive fabrics with thread. It is a common fabric marking technique used in suitmaking and couture.
Fabric Marking - In Conclusion
So now you know three easy methods of fabric marking. My most commonly used method is the simple pins and chalk.
That’s it! Easy wasn’t it? If you have any extra tips please share them below.
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