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Five Ways to Transfer Pattern Markings to Fabric

5 ways to transfer pattern markings to fabric // tutorial on Megan Nielsen Design Diary

Transferring your pattern markings onto the fabric itself is an important step that will set you up to sew more easily in the later stages of your garment construction. Since we are about to begin the Flint pants sewalong, I thought it would be good to cover this before we start!

I’ve heard from a couple of people that they find transferring pattern markings quite stressful – but honestly, it doesn’t have to be! Today I’ve got three super easy ways for you to transfer your pattern markings from pattern to fabric that will take the stress and headache out of the whole process!

Clipping notches

When it comes to marking notches I think the easiest and clearest way is to clip your seams.

Clip notches while your pattern and fabric are together

When your pattern and fabric are still pinned together, simple cut directly over the top of your notches through the pattern and fabric. Do not cut the entire width of the seam allowance, this is a short snip roughly 1/4″/5mm or less long.

Using a notching tool makes this look really professional

No matter what method you choose to use for marking your notches, a pattern notcher is a really cool tool to have. It cuts a little channel over your notches, which makes it really easy to mark your notches on your fabric in a variety of ways.

Marking with pins

If the idea of clipping your fabric inside the seam allowance to mark notches scares you, then you can simply place a pin at that point. DONE!

Use an awl or sharp pencil to poke a hole in your pattern

Simply poke a hole through the dart point with an awl or a very sharp pencil.

Pin in these pre-created holes to transfer your dart
Repeat the pinning progress to complete the dart
Finished pinning to mark the dart

When marking darts you can push your pin through the dart point, and then on the other piece of fabric push a pin through the same hole on the opposite side. This will result in both sides showing pins through the dart point.

Pencil, chalk or fabric pen

Another great method is to mark your dart points with a pencil, chalk or fabric pen.

Use an awl to poke a hole in your pattern piece
This hole should match your pattern for accuracy

Simple poke a hole through the dart point with an awl or a very sharp pencil. If you have a pattern notcher, you can use it to clip your pattern notches on the pattern.

Use a chalk pencil to mark the hole you have created
Finished chalk pencil marks on the fabric

Then after you have cut out your fabric, mark the dart point and the end of the dart legs with a regular pencil (my go-to), chalk pencil or washable fabric pen.

Tracing wheel

I’m not going to lie with you, this is my least favourite method, mostly because it always takes me ages to find my tracing paper and wheel hahaha.

Tracing wheel and carbon tracing paper

You can buy little kits that include a tracing wheel and tracing paper at pretty much any and every sewing store.

Set the carbon paper between the pattern and fabric
Transferred marks from tracing wheel method

You place the tracing paper face down on the fabric with the pattern on top, then run the wheel over the dart legs. These chalk marks will wash out later and have the benefit of showing the exact line you need to sew along, which can take a lot of stress out of whether you are sewing your dart straight.

Tailors tacks

Thread through the pattern piece and fabric
Knot the thread to form the tack
Tailors tack in progress
A pair of tailors tacks on a pattern piece

By far my favourite method of transferring pattern markings is using tailors tacks. This is the method we use when working on our samples as it’s fast and accurate and markings are always incredibly easy to see and don’t rub off. Its especially my favourite for marking button hole and button placement, as i find i like to mark those at the beginning of the project at the cutting phase, but chalk can often rub off by the end of the construction when it’s time to work on buttonholes.

Pull fabric pieces apart to view tailors tack loops transferred
Cut the tacks to keep them in place on both fabric pieces
Completed tailors tacks

With your pattern still pinned to your fabric, simply sew a loose loop over the mark you want to transfer. For example on this release tuck, push your needle through both layers of fabric, then back up through both layers of fabric, then repeat so that you create a loop.

Snip your thread leaving tails on each side and leave the loop loose. When you separate the two layers of fabric, snip through the threads between the two fabrics. This will leave threads on both pieces of fabric in the correct position.

About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

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6 years ago

One of my favourites is the tailor tac too but I’ve never done it through the pattern piece too – I always place a pin there then remove the pattern piece and sew in my tac BUT I like your idea better! I actually do always use the tracing wheel for darts – I’ve tried so many others over the years but I always seem to return to this one :) The problem I’ve had with that lately is the tracing paper! They don’t make it like they used to – often you can hardly see the lines. I have some Burda tracing paper on order hopefully this works better than a couple of others I’ve tried lately that were useless to be honest.

Stephanie Gajewski
Stephanie Gajewski
6 years ago
Reply to  Meg

I haven’t done tailor tacks in ages. Recently I had to do them and couldn’t remember how to do them. Went on Pinterest and found it. I have used my wash away pencil for decades, it goes right through the tissue paper and onto the fabric!!

Chante McLin
Chante McLin
5 years ago
Reply to  Meg

Try the large sheets sold by Richard The Thread out of L.A. no minimum for ordering online and fast, reasonable shipping.

Veronica Speedwell
Veronica Speedwell
1 year ago
Reply to  Chante McLin

Richard The Thread is a great source for all sorts of sewing supplies, especially for hard to find tools, linings, bones, and things you’ve never dreamed! And a fun catalog/website to peruse just for fun.


[…] 5 ways to transfer pattern markings to fabric […]


[…] 5 ways to transfer pattern markings to fabric […]

6 years ago

Super helpful! Thank you.


[…] The first step is to carefully mark your tucks and darts from the pattern pieces. If you’re unsure how to do this, then check out yesterdays tutorial which includes 5 ways to transfer pattern markings to fabric. […]


[…] 5 ways to transfer pattern markings to fabric […]


[…] 5 ways to transfer pattern markings to fabric […]


[…] 5 ways to transfer pattern markings to fabric […]


[…] 5 ways to transfer pattern markings to fabric […]


[…] You can check out this post here for more dart transfer methods and some other tips and […]

3 years ago

An anyone recommend a brand of pattern notcher please? I bought a cheapie on eBay – I really like whyit does but it doesn’t cut well throughthe 2nd layer of fabric. The one oictured here looks better quality than mine.