How to Transfer Sewing Pattern Markings to Your Fabric

In this article, you will learn rules for transferring markings accurately; what registration marks you need to transfer from the sewing pattern to your cut out fabric; and how to transfer markings using various marking tools.

After you’ve prepped your fabric and laid out, pinned and cut out your pattern pieces, you’re finally ready for the final step before the real fun begins.

In this article, you will learn how to mark or transfer pattern markings to your fabric for precision sewing!

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of marking, we need to set some ground rules…

Marking: The Rules

Rule #1: If you don’t have time to mark, you don’t have time to cut! You must transfer all pattern markings IMMEDIATELY after cutting your pattern pieces out!

Rule #2: ALWAYS test whatever method you choose on a piece of scrap project fabric — make sure it can be easily removed.

Rule #3: With the exception of pockets and buttonholes, ALWAYS make your markings on the wrong side (WS) of the fabric.

Rule #4: Whichever marking tool you choose, you want to mark as lightly as you can on the WS. NO dark, heavy marks, please.

Rule #5: Do NOT press over marks. Heat can set some dyes PERMANENTLY!

Rule #6: Never launder a garment before you remove your marks. Because some detergents may contain chemicals that make those markings PERMANENT!

Rule #7: Use PLAIN water to remove marks.

Choosing Your Marking Tools

A good marking tool has three qualities:

  • It marks precisely!
  • It is easily removed!
  • It does not leave marks of any kind behind!

You will probably need two marking tools: one for exterior markings and one for internal markings.

I love using my 4-inch Gingher embroidery scissors for exterior markings and Clover’s Chacopel Dressmaker’s pencils or Clover’s Chaco Liner Wheels for internal markings.

Once you’ve chosen your preferred marking tools, it is time to get busy marking…

What to Mark

You’ll need to mark both layers of your fabric.

Here’s a list of everything you need to transfer from the tissue pattern pieces to your fabric:

Interior Markings

  • Button & buttonholes
  • Dart point
  • Pocket placement
  • Positioning lines for trim or decorative stitching
  • Stitching lines for curves and corners
  • Start and end of gathered or eased areas
  • Hemlines
  • Wrong side (WS)

Exterior Markings

  • Center back (CB) at neckline and hem if not marked by a seam
  • Center front (CF) at neckline and hem if not marked by a seam
  • Dart legs
  • Notches (these are really important!)

Okay, now that you know what to mark, you’re ready to learn the how…

How to Mark Fabric

Snip Marking

Snip marking is super easy!

To snip mark, I use my embroidery Scissors. I don’t find that thread snips work well for snip marking!

Here’s how…

For a notch, clip just shy of the center of the notch!

How to Transfer Pattern Markings

For a single notch, clip once. For a double notch, clip each notch. And for a triple notch, well, you get the idea.

And if it is the dart legs, just snip in from the cutting line. See the image under pin marking.

DO make sure that you snips are shallow — no more than ¼ inch deep! It is important not to snip too deeply as this will weaken the seam!

Also, keep in mind that if your fabric unravels faster than you can say “cold-hearted snake,” then snip marking is not an option!

Isn’t snip marking too easy?!

Sew easy tip: Snip marking is only recommended for seam allowances of at least 5/8 inch!

Marking with Chalk or Pen

You could also mark notches and dart legs with a chalk pencil or a air- or water-soluble pen.

For example, here’s how you would mark notches…

How to Transfer Pattern Markings

Simply draw a short line for single notches, two short lines for double notches, or three short lines for triple notches with chalk or a chalk pencil or water-soluble pen.

And you’re done!

Pin Marking

Pin marking is easy as 1-2-3…

For example, to mark internal dart point, pocket placement, button placement, or dots…

  1. Place a pin in the tissue pattern at the dot or circle.
  2. Now, peel back the tissue paper until you get to the pin(s).
  3. And then mark the point where the pin pierces the fabric with your preferred marking tool like this…
How to Transfer Pattern Markings

And like this…

How to Transfer Pattern Markings

And if fabric was laid it out right sides together (RST), you’ll need to lift the fabric to reveal the other side and mark the other dart too.

But if you laid out your fabric with wrong sides together (WST), you can easily mark both sides in one go!

And once you are done marking darts, you can draw a line from the dart point for each dart leg.

How to Transfer Pattern Markings

The End

So there you have it. After you’ve prepped your fabric and laid out, pinned and cut out your pattern pieces, all that’s left is marking!

And you now know that you have many choices of marking tools and that transferring pattern markings is as simple as 1-2-3.

And remember…

Life is the ultimate red carpet event. Dress for it!

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