How do you transfer pattern markings to your fabric? We have a few favorite ways…
My absolute favorite marking tool is Tailor’s chalk. It is a waxy square of white chalk. The kind we use is not very chalky or dusty. Quality Tailor’s chalk should feel like candle wax. It leaves a white mark on your fabric so it is not the best choice if you are working with light colored fabrics. The best part about this chalk is that you can use the blade of your scissors to sharpen it so that you always have a nice, clear, sharp mark.
The con of Tailor’s chalk: it does sometimes leave a stain. No matter what type of marking tool you use, you should always test it on a hidden portion of your fabric first. Tailor’s chalk tends to leave a dark stain on silks.
Another way to transfer your markings is with disappearing ink. We use a double ended pen – one side disappears on its own in a few minutes (perfect for marking where to stop your seam or a quick button placement) and the other side goes away when moistened with water. The inks are purple and blue respectively so this makes them great for light colored fabrics and a perfect compliment to your Tailor’s chalk!
When you find yourself working with very fine fabrics or a textured fabric that may not show markings very well (sequins, velvet, faux fur) you can use tailor’s tacks! Some people only use tailor’s tacks and completely forgo the pens and chalks. That’s fine, too… they just take a bit more time. Tailor’s tacks are like markings with thread… Find a quick tutorial below!
Quick Tailor’s Tacks
With the pattern still pinned to your fabric, insert needle threaded with contrasting thread into marking. If you have two layers of fabric, you will be stitching through both layers… Leave a thread tail about 3″ – 4″ long.
Create a loop by stitching into the same spot again. If you are sewing through multiple layers of fabric, your loop should be larger then the one pictured here (3″ or so in diameter). I like to have more rather then less… So if in doubt, make your loops large! You can always cut off any extra.
Snip the center of your loop and snip off your needle, leaving a 3-4″ thread tail.
Gently lift your pattern tissue off of the fabric. You will be left with several threads sticking out of your fabric, centered around your marking. Here is where you’ll stop if you are marking through only one layer of fabric. These threads should remain in your fabric for the duration of your project. They are simple to remove when you finish, even if you catch them in your stitches!
Carefully, lift the top layer of fabric to reveal 1 – 2″ of your tacks.
Snip the threads between the layers.
Now you have two markings! The longer you make your thread loops and tails in the previous steps, the longer your thread tacks will be. I prefer small ones so that they don’t get in my way while I sew, but special care has to be taken sometimes to prevent them from coming out prematurely. Experiment with this method to see what works best for you! I have a friend who knots her threads together so that they don’t budge!