Marking tools

Marking tools

Outlining a pattern, marking a caliper, marking the notches on the sleeve, or transferring a drawing to the fabric are tasks as complementary as they are different from each other. There are many tools to facilitate these tasks, and what is better, they help us achieve more precise results.

The available selection of markers is overwhelming and very tempting, leaving the budget shaking after a visit to the haberdashery. For this reason, and advocating for sustainable sewing, in today’s post we are going to see the tools (both classic and more modern) most used in my sewing sessions, with advantages and tricks resulting from my experience.

This does not mean that they cannot be used in a different way or for other purposes. You know, each teacher has his booklet!

Is it necessary to have them all? Of course not, although if you regularly sew and varying projects, the collection of markers will grow naturally.

Let us begin!

Chalk markers

One of the essential materials in any self-respecting sewing box. Although there are modernized versions of the traditional soap, chalks (whatever their shape) are the bosses of the workshop. If you don’t have a pair handy, no one will take you seriously!

Ideal for outlining patterns and drawing lines and curves (a cape skirt, a square cushion), they are not as practical for marking pickets or small marks, they just fade!

Different types of dressmaker's chalks |  Betsy Sewing
  1. Chalk pencil, comfortable and versatile when choosing the color and easy to use.
  2. Lead spare parts for the mechanical pencil. This pack can be purchased separately and ensures a varied color assortment.
  3. Pencil sharpener for the mechanical pencil, included in the original pack. Getting a fine line is a matter of regularly sharpening the lead.
  4. Chalk or classic tailor’s soap. It exists in several colors and can be sharpened with a special device. Suitable for nostalgics!
  5. Chalk replacement in white (exists in more colors) in its roulette version.
  6. Roulette top.
  7. Roulette body. We can have several color refills for the same roulette.

The type of mark they leave and the pressure or way of taking the chalk will be decisive in choosing one or the other.

When we mark large silhouettes with a medium degree of precision, traditional chalk is great (so nice and rounded), but when we want to cut a more complex garment, we will need the precision of the mechanical pencil.

Roulette is halfway there, and it depends a lot on the genre in which we are going to score. If it has some texture goodbye, but if it is firm it glides on at breakneck speed. Pass!

Traces according to the tool used |  Betsy Sewing

A good trick for marking with chalk is to stretch the fabric in small sections and mark between these two points to avoid the “drag” effect that we cause when pressing the chalk against the fabric.

Trick to draw with the dressmaker's chalk |  Betsy Sewing

Pen markers

The most sophisticated, the high tech of the family. Intended to mark tweezers, gathering lines, notches and other marks to be taken into account in certain manufacturing steps.

They disappear with water, air, or iron (each one has its specifications, be careful), and at the rate that new models appear, they will soon have to disappear with a keyword.

Ballpoint pen, marker and pencil to mark on the seam |  Betsy Sewing
  1. A marker that disappears with water. Simply soak a little water in a cloth and rub gently, the blue ink is transferred to the cloth.
  2. Pilot Frixion pen. Her goal in life was not sewing, but someone discovered that with a light touch of iron she disappears instantly.
  3. Water-soluble pencil. It can be considered a version of the chalk pencil with a fatter lead.

Each marker has a thickness, a saturation, and a very important element, a different line feed (the pencil is more continuous than the pen) that will make them candidates for your current project or be relegated to future tasks.

Different marks of marking tools in the seam |  Betsy Sewing


Roulettes have become a tool that cannot be lacking in any pattern making session. And yes, pattern making because the use of these tools to mark final fabrics is technically prohibited in the manuals of good sewing (unless we are working with leather or marking changes in a gorilla or prototype ).

Types of roulette for pattern making and marking |  Betsy Sewing
  • Copy paper. Burda has packs made up of two 83 cm x 57 cm large sheets and in two possible color combinations: blue and red or yellow and white.
  • Clover’s Double Roulette to trace the pattern onto paper with the desired seam allowance width.
  • Metallic roulette for reflecting patterns, marking leather fabrics, or other experiments.
  • Base to cut, or in this case mark, and avoid damaging the surface of our work table.

One of the characteristics of roulette that we must analyze before its purchase and use is the shape of the teeth. The roulette wheel with more rounded and softer shapes is suitable for tracing patterns, thus avoiding crushing the paper. The more serrated roulette is ideal for marking patterns on paper and cardboard, as well as more rigid materials. In both cases, the cutting base is indicated so as not to damage the work surface.

For years I have used the pointy roulette for everything and as a result, I have more than one tape-based stamped pattern and collection of scars on the natural wood table. Hey girls!

Differences in the teeth of roulette wheels |  Betsy Sewing

We are going to finish clearly seeing the use of each of the roulettes with some examples.

Clover’s Double Roulette

One of the most popular tools of the moment, a clear must-have of the season.

  • The place from bottom to top in this order: cutter base, pattern paper, copy paper with the ink part facing the pattern paper, and lastly the pattern sheet.
Placing carbon paper to trace patterns |  Betsy Sewing
  • Place the wheels in the right position to achieve the desired seam allowance, in this case, 1.5 cm.
Width selection in Clover roulette |  Betsy Sewing
  • Pass the wheel along the line of the desired size.
Review of the desired size with the seam allowance |  Betsy Sewing

Thanks to the tracing paper (properly placed), in the same operation we have marked the pattern and its seam allowances. Remember that we can apply it to patterns that have the margin included and those that do not have it, orienting the roulettes carefully.

Pattern and seam allowance marked in the same step |  Betsy Sewing

Pointed roulette

Its use is more specific to mark shapes in patterns, especially when it comes to reflecting shapes such as a collar or the shape of an armhole.

  • Have ready the shape that we want to reflect on a paper with the cutting base ready.
Half pattern drawing |  Betsy Sewing
  • Fold along the spine or fold line.
Fold along the spine line of the pattern |  Betsy Sewing
  • With the double paper, pass the spinner over the drawn shape.
Play the roulette wheel on the pattern line |  Betsy Sewing
  • Unfold and trace with a marker along the dotted line marked with the roulette wheel.
Unfold the paper and follow the marked dotted line |  Betsy Sewing

Transfer pens

How many times have we not used the tracing paper of the typewriter to transfer the drawing of a tender bouquet of violets to a family retro handkerchief (with the will to embroider it) and we have ended up with hands and a handkerchief full of charcoal and the desire to embroider frustrated?

To enjoy the new trends in embroidery and decorate our favorite garments without any risk other than not pinching our fingers, we are going to see two new materials that will give us the final push.

Tools to transfer the drawing to a fabric and embroider |  Betsy Sewing
  1. Prym transfer pencil.
  2. Vegetable paper or any paper with transparency.
  3. Double-ended transfer marker Adger.
  4. Tracing paper included in the marker pack (which with a little water is like new and can be reused).
  5. Frame totally expendable but that aesthetically animated the image.
  6. Drawing or template that we want to embroider printed on paper.

To see which of these two markers best suits your character, we are going to see the necessary steps to use them. You can find them at Seoane Textil (along with many more types of markers and sewing accessories).

Prym pencil

  1. Place the transparent paper on top of the template.
  2. Go over the lines with the Prym pencil with a consistent stroke.
Trace on transparent paper with the Prym pencil |  Betsy Sewing
  • Place the transparent paper on the fabric with the drawn face touching the right side of the piece.
  • Iron decisively, being careful not to drag the layers.
Iron the drawing on the fabric |  Betsy Sewing

This is the result of the transfer pencil, a subtle but visible line that disappears with water. With this marker, we have to take into account that the image is reflected, so in the first phase of tracing you have to rotate the template.

Iron the drawing on the fabric |  Betsy Sewing

Adger marker

  1. Place the paper that comes in the pack on top of the template.
  2. Review the drawing with the marker.
Drawing on special paper with marker pen |  Betsy Sewing
  • Place the tracing paper (with the drawing made) just above the fabric where we want to transfer the illustration. At no time do we turn this paper to face it with the work. Important!
  • We go over the lines of the drawing again so that the ink is transferred to the fabric.
Trace the drawing with the tissue under the paper |  Betsy Sewing

A bit more visible is the transfer of the strokes with this marker, which in addition to not using the iron, has a double tip and tracing paper for many attempts. It also disappears with water. A clear favorite!

Result of the pen to transfer drawings |  Betsy Sewing

There are as many types of markers as there are lipstick shades, and choosing one or the other will depend on several factors or zodiac trends.

There are more, many more! but they are still brothers of those presented today, so you can now sign them and put them in their group.

We are looking forward to hearing what your favorite marking tools are if you have any blacklisted or otherwise use.


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