Marking In Dressmaking

Paper pattern pieces have several construction marks which are usually indicated by dots for darts, gathering, etc. These marks need to be transferred accurately onto the fabric and in a way that marks both layers of fabric simultaneously. This may be done by making tailor’s tack stitches or by using a tracing wheel and dressmaker’s carbon paper, obtainable from haberdashers.

Tailor’s tacks

1 Using thread in a contrasting colour, make a single back stitch through the pattern and all layers of fabric underneath at every dot. Cut thread and loop after each stitch, leaving long ends.

2 Unpin the pattern and lift it off carefully so that the stitches pull out of the paper but stay in the fabric. Slowly separate the layers of fabric, cutting through the threads of the tacks as you reach them. You are then left with little tufts of thread which are easily removed when the garment is finished.

Tracing wheel and carbon

Use a shade of paper either lighter or darker than the fabric and practise on spare fabric first. To mark a dart on two pieces of fabric with right sides together, use a strip of paper slightly wider and twice as long as the dart. Fold the strip in half widthwise with the coated sides together.

Place one end under the bottom layer of fabric and one between the fabric and pattern, removing any obstructing pins.

Mark by rolling the wheel away from you, over the centre and outside lines of the dart, using a ruler as a guide for straightness. Mark the end of the dart and other dots with intersecting lines.


Fold the fabric, with right sides together, along the centre line of the dart so that the dots on opposite sides correspond. Baste along a line joining the dots and check for fit before finally stitching.

Work the final stitching from the wide end to the point, cutting off the threads with 5 cm (2 inch) ends. Tie them firmly in a double knot and trim the excess.

Press the dart to lie in the direction indicated on the pattern.