Easy Seam Allowance Marking Using Tracing Wheels

seam allowance Tools Pencils and pen

Many vintage patterns were made without a seam allowance or hem allowances included.

This makes the fitting and adjustment process, such as a full bust adjustment, so much easier. Especially when you are sewing your first mock-up. Mark seam lines onto the fabric of the mock-up and add a good sizes seam allowance. 

Pin and mark all necessary adjustments onto the mock-up fabric during the fitting phase, making the transfer of adjusted seams and darts more accurate back onto your paper pattern.

How To Mark Seam Allowances.

There are several ways of accurately marking your seam allowance directly to your fabric.

The Prym double tracing wheel is easy to use and is available with different chalk fillers. Simply adjust the seam width between 15mm and 40mm and roll the plastic wheel along the pattern edge. 

(stocked by all good sewing shops and of course Amazon).

It has easy to change chalk refills if you want other colours than white.

The seam width is easily changed by sliding the wheel along the shaft which is marked with 15mm – 25mm and 40mm marks.

If you are sure the pattern does not need any fitting adjustments making before you cut out, you may want to mark your seam allowance onto the paper pattern.

A simple double wheel is best for this job. Adjust the wheels to width and run along the edge of the paper pattern to leave a perforated or embossed line.

This will mark your seam allowance cutting line.

One of the oldest ways to mark a seam allowance, I learned from my Grandmother, is to simply tape 2 or 3 fabric marking pencils together to get the width you want. Or fabric marking pens would work as well. 

The pencil that traces the edge of the pattern would be dipped in white glue and allowed to dry so it didn’t leave a mark.

This method of marking seam allowances works well for delicate fabrics, stretchy knits and fabrics cut on the bias that the tracing wheels can snag and pull out of shape.

I use this method all the time for hat making. 

transfering pattern markings to fabric

For transferring internal markings such as darts, pleats, fold lines etc, if you don´t want to use traditional tailors tacks then dressmakers tracing paper comes in packs of different colours and is accurate and easy to use. I think I have had a packet over 20 years and it still marks ok!.


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