Easy ways to Mark Seam Allowances

mark seam allowances Tools Pencils and pen

How to mark seam allowances.

Vintage patterns often lacked seam and hem allowances, which actually makes the fitting and adjustment process, such as a full bust adjustment easier, particularly when making a mock-up.

Simply mark the seam lines and add generous seam allowances (30mm/1 inch) to the mock-up fabric, and then pin and mark any necessary adjustments during the fitting phase.

This way, you can accurately transfer the adjustments (adjusted seams and darts) back onto the paper pattern, improving its fit for your project.

How To Mark Seam Allowances.

a tool to mark seam allowance on vintage patterns

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.

Using a double wheel to Mark Seam Allowances.

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.

In that case 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.

the Traditional Way.

My Grandmother taught me this one.

One of the oldest and simplest ways to mark a seam allowance is to tape two or three fabric-marking pencils or pens together to get the desired width.

Another tip I learned from my Grandmother. That is to dip the pencil or pen that traces the edge of the pattern in white glue and allow it to dry before use.

This prevents the pencil or pen from leaving marks on the fabric, therefore ensuring clean and accurate markings.

a technique to mark seam allowance on vintage patterns

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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