How to Transfer Pattern Markings

A dress pattern at a costume shop
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  • 01 of 04

    Identify Pattern Markings

    Pattern markings for a transfer
    Debbie Colgrove

    When you are using a pattern, there are many markings on the pattern that need to be transferred to the fabric to obtain accurate results when you sew that fabric.

    • Dots: these are dots that mark locations for matching parts of the garment or item to each other, such as seam intersections, pockets, darts, collars and more.
    • Darts: markings for darts are straight lines and dots. Matching them in the process of folding the dart is essential to making an accurate dart.
    • Buttonholes & Button Placement: transferring the pattern markings for buttonholes and buttons ensures that they will be evenly placed on the garment.
    • Other Items to Transfer: it is impossible to list all of the markings that you may want to transfer. The things to keep in mind are the markings that will line up other pieces of the fabric, things that create folds, tucks or pleats and things that will show you the placement for add-ons such as buttons.
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  • 02 of 04

    Fabric Marking Tools

    Pattern marking tools
    Larry Washburn / Getty Images

    There are many types of fabric marking tools available. The tool you use will be a matter of preference in most cases.

    The most common tools are:

    • Tailor's chalk and marking pencils are available in many forms at sewing departments
    • Dressmaker's carbon is available in non-wax, wax and vanishing forms. They are all a sheet for transferring material.
    • Tracing wheels are available in a variety of forms. Wheels are smooth or spiked. Some have extra features such as a smooth area for pressure marking.
    • Vanishing tools are wonderful if you can sit and finish your garment. If you tend to "stop and go" your sewing projects, the markings may be gone before you are ready for that marking.
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  • 03 of 04

    Transferring Markings

    Transferring markings with a tracing wheel
    Debbie Colgrove

    Always test the chosen marking materials on scraps before you cut out the fabric. Test that they will not show through to the right side of the fabric and that the markings are removable. The photos in this article are using a high contrast marking color for visibility. You would use a color that is close to the fabric color but visible. Read the package directions for more information.

    • Leave the pattern pinned to the fabric.
    • Fold the carbon paper in half so that it is long enough to mark the intended area.
    • Place the marking side of the transfer paper on the wrong side of the fabric. (If the wrong sides of the fabric are inside, slide the transfer paper inside the fabric. If the wrong sides of the fabric are outside, place the fabric inside the transfer paper.)
    • For lines, use a straight edge such as a gauge or ruler. Line the straight edge up with the line. Run the wheel along the straight edge. Check that the markings are on all layers of the fabric.
    • For dots, find the center of the markings. Make an X through the center of the dot.
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  • 04 of 04

    Other Tools

    Marking a pattern on fabric with chalk
    Carina Knig / Getty Images

    What you need:

    • Straight Pins
    • Tailor's Chalk, marking pens or marking pencils

    Place a straight pin straight through the dot on the pattern piece.
    Mark the fabric with the chalk where the pin is in the fabric.