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Common symbols on pattern pieces
                                                                                   

    Notches
    These are little triangular or diamond-shaped symbols found along the edges of pattern
    pieces. They indicate where to match one fabric piece to another.

    Dots and squares
    These can indicate where to match one fabric piece to another or where to start or stop
    a line of stitching.

    Lines
    These can indicate where to sew a line of stitching, where to fold or cut your fabric,
    where the center front or back of a piece is, or where to place pockets, buttons or
    buttonholes.


General marking tips
                                                                                   

  • Make your marks before removing your fabric pieces from your cutting table to make the task
    easier.

  • Make your marks before removing the patterns from your fabric pieces.

  • Be as accurate as you can when transferring the symbols to your fabric.

  • Mark both fabric layers.

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for using marking tools.

  • Always test a marking method on a scrap of your fabric first to make sure the mark can be
    removed.

  • If you’re not sure whether you’ll be able to remove a mark, make the mark on the wrong side of
    your fabric.


Marking methods
                                                                                   

    Tailor’s chalk

    Description
    This is a chalk made for marking fabric that comes in a variety of colors. It’s available in
    pencil, cake, and powdered forms.

    Suitable for
    Making smaller marks, such as dots and squares on both washable and dry-clean only
    fabrics.

    Advantages
    Easy to use. Easy to remove.

    Disadvantages
    Not appropriate for fabric that will be handled a lot during construction because the chalk
    comes off easily.

    How to use
    Use a color that contrasts with your fabric. To mark dots or squares, push a pin into the
    center of the symbol on the pattern piece, then into the fabric pieces underneath. Rub
    the chalk onto your fabric where the pin is.

    How to remove
    Remove the marks with a brush or by rubbing your fabric together.


    Tracing paper and a tracing wheel

    Description
    Tracing paper is a type of coated paper that comes in a variety of colors. When placed
    against your fabric and rolled over with a tracing wheel (a tool that resembles a
    miniature pizza cutter), a mark is made on your fabric. A tracing wheel with a serrated
    edge produces a dotted line and a wheel with a smooth edge produces a solid line.

    Suitable for
    Marking lines, dots, and squares on fabric. Best for solid and opaque fabrics and
    washable fabrics.

    Advantages
    Quick and easy to use.

    Disadvantages
    Not appropriate for multicolored or sheer fabrics because the marks would be difficult to
    see. Not appropriate for dry-clean only fabrics because the marks must be removed with
    water.

    How to use
    Put cardboard underneath your fabric to protect your work surface. Use a paper color
    that contrasts with your fabric.

    Use a serrated tracing wheel for marking most fabrics and a smooth wheel for marking
    highly textured fabrics. Place the colored side of the paper against the side of your fabric
    where you want the mark to appear. You can mark both of your fabric pieces at once by
    unpinning your pattern piece, folding the tracing paper colored side out, and sliding it
    between your fabric pieces.

    Run your tracing wheel along the line on the pattern piece to transfer it to your fabric. To
    mark dots or squares, make an “X” with the wheel.

    How to remove
    Remove the marks with a damp cloth.


    Marking Pen

    Description
    This is a pen made for marking fabric that comes in a variety of colors. It’s available in
    two types, air soluble and water soluble.

    Suitable for
    Transferring smaller marks onto fabric, such as dots and squares. Use an air soluble pen
    on dry-clean only fabrics. Use a water soluble pen on fabrics that can be washed.

    Advantages
    Quick and easy to use. Has a precise tip to allow for accurate marking.

    Disadvantages
    Marks made with air soluble pens will disappear within a few days. Therefore, item must
    be constructed promptly or the marks will need to be made again. Marks made with
    water soluble pens are not appropriate for dry-clean only fabrics. Some inks from marking
    pens can become permanent if exposed to heat or detergent.

    How to use
    Use a color pen that contrasts with your fabric. To mark dots or squares, push a pin into
    the center of the symbol on the pattern piece, then into the fabric pieces underneath.
    Rub the pen onto your fabric where the pin is.

    How to remove
    Marks made with air soluble pens disappear on their own with exposure to air. Remove
    marks from water soluble pens by dampening your fabric with water.


    Bar soap

    Description
    A sliver of bar soap is used to mark fabric.

    Suitable for
    Marking smaller lines, dots, and squares on medium to dark colored washable fabrics.

    Advantages
    Cheap and readily available.

    Disadvantages
    Difficult to see on lighter fabrics. Not appropriate for dry-clean only fabrics because the
    marks must be removed with water.

    How to use
    To make your marks, rub the edge of the soap sliver onto your fabric. To keep the edges
    of the soap sliver sharp, periodically trim them with a knife.

    How to remove
    Remove the marks by dampening or laundering the fabric.


    Tailor’s tacks

    Description
    Thread is used to mark the fabric.

    Suitable for
    Making all kinds of marks on fabrics that might stain with other methods and highly
    textured fabrics or prints where marks from other methods would be difficult to see.

    Advantages
    The only equipment needed are a needle and thread.

    Disadvantages
    The marks can be time consuming to make. Thread pieces may come out as the fabric
    pieces are handled.

    How to make
    Use a color thread that contrasts with your fabric. Silk thread is ideal because it’s fine
    and smooth. If you have lots of marks to transfer, you may want to use a different color
    thread for each symbol.

    Pull about a 24” length of thread through a hand needle and double it. Don’t knot
    the thread. Push the needle through the pattern symbol and then through the layers of
    fabric underneath. Pull the thread through, leaving about a two inch tail on top of the
    fabric.

    Push the needle back up through the fabric and pattern, about 1/8” away from the first
    piercing and pull it through. Cut the thread so that this second thread tail is the same
    length as the first.

    Finish making all of the other tailor’s tacks on that particular fabric piece, then
    unpin and slowly pull the tissue pattern off the fabric. Slowly pull the fabric pieces
    apart at each tailor’s tack (don’t pull the top section all the way off yet) and snip
    the threads in between the layers of fabric to about 1/2”.


    Stickers

    Description
    Small pieces of tape or sticker dots are used to mark the fabric.

    Suitable for
    Marking the right or wrong side of fabric, marking placement of items like buttons or
    pockets.

    Advantages
    Quick and easy to use.

    Disadvantages
    Depending on the stickers used, can mar delicate fabrics or leave behind a residue.

    How to use
    Apply the adhesive sticker where you want it. You may want to test the sticker first to
    make sure it won’t damage your fabric.

    How to remove
    Just peel the tape or sticker off the fabric when finished.


    Stitches

    Description
    A long basting stitch is used to mark lines such as the center back or front of a garment
    piece.

    Suitable for
    Fabrics that might stain with other methods. Highly textured fabrics or prints where other
    markings methods would be difficult to see.

    Advantages
    More visible than some other marking methods.

    Disadvantages
    Can be time consuming to make.

    How to use
    Use tracing paper to transfer lines to the wrong side of your fabric. Then, with needle
    and thread, hand-baste through the line using long basting stitches.


    Snips

    Description
    A snip is made with a pair of scissors into the seam allowance of a fabric piece.

    Suitable for
    Marking notches along the edges of pattern pieces.

    Advantages
    Quick and easy to make.

    Disadvantages
    Should only be made with seam allowances that are 5/8” or more. Care must be taken
    not to accidentally clip past the seam allowance. Snips can be a little difficult to see.
    Clipping too far into the seam allowance can weaken the seam.

    How to make
    Clip about 1/4” into the seam allowance into the center of each notch. For a double
    notch, clip twice. For a triple notch, clip three times.
Sewing Information, Advice, How-to
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There are lines and symbols on pattern pieces
that need to be transferred to your fabric before
you start to sew.

These symbols indicate things such as where to
place pockets and buttonholes, where to stop or
start a line of stitching, or where to match fabric
pieces together.

The type of marking method you choose depends
on the type of fabric you’re working with, the kind
of mark you’re making, and how much time you’re
willing to spend on the task.

Instructions for marking your fabric pieces are
given further down under each marking method.
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