With so many options available online and in craft stores, it can be overwhelming to know what sewing marking tools to buy. Specific marking tools will make things easier for you depending on the type of sewing. Let’s look at the different sewing marking tools with names and pictures so you know exactly what to look for.
What are marking tools?
Marking tools are handy for drawing non-permanent lines onto fabric. When sewing a top, you cut out the pattern from your fabric.
The easiest way to do this is by using a marking tool like tailor’s chalk to trace around the outside of the pattern pieces onto the fabric. Then you can cut the pattern out using fabric shears or other useful sewing cutting tools.
You don’t want to use regular pens or pencils on fabric because pens can leak or bleed ink into the fibres. This won’t wash out and could ruin your fabric.
If you want to learn more about which sewing tools to buy for your sewing kit, read through my sewing tools and equipment guide.
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Sewing Marking Tools for Paper
If you are following a pattern, you may want to trace it onto tracing paper first, so the original pattern stays in one piece. This is great if you decide to remake the same pattern but want to change the size.
You can find tracing paper in any good craft store. I like to use a roll of tracing paper to trace off my sewing patterns because it’s wide and can be cut to the correct length.
Pencils or Pens
Standard pencils used for sketching are great for tracing patterns onto paper. I like to use HB pencils because the lead is darker and easier to see on the tracing paper. You can also use pigment liners or ballpoint pens to trace clear lines onto paper.
There are two ways to trace off a pattern. First, place tracing paper over the sewing pattern and draw it off with a pen and ruler. The second method involves placing a sewing pattern on top of the paper and using a tracing wheel to poke through holes. Following the holes on the paper, you can draw the pattern lines.
Sewing Marking Tools for Fabric
- Tailor’s chalk
- Fabric pencils
- Water-soluble and heat-erasable markers
- Chaco liners
- Eraser brush
- Mechanical chalk pencil
- Hera marker
1. Tailor’s Chalk
There is no doubt that tailor’s chalk is one of the most popular marking tools on the market. Designed in a triangular shape with fine edges, it creates thin, smooth lines on fabrics. It’s suitable for marking pattern pieces onto fabric because it doesn’t require much pressure to leave a chalked line. This can be helpful when you’re using lightweight materials.
One disadvantage of a tailor’s chalk is that it needs to be sharpened frequently to keep the edges thin and smooth. You can use a sharpening tool for this.
2. Fabric Pencils
Unlike standard colouring pencils, fabric pencils can be brushed or washed away depending on what kind of chalk it is. It leaves less mess than a tailor’s chalk because the pencil chalk is not exposed or can crumble as easily. Using fabric pencils, patterns can be chalked onto sturdier materials like cotton, linen, denim, or canvas. They can be sharpened with a standard pencil sharpener, or you can buy retractable styles. If you wish to wash off the markings, look for the word ‘water soluble’ on the packet.
3. Water-Soluble and Heat Erasable Marker
Skip using your kid’s colouring markers and get yourself a few water-soluble and heat-erasable markers. These clever marking tools will disappear with either water when washed or with heat from an iron. Markers are easy to use because they don’t require any sharpening. They come in many colours, like blue and purple, which are popular choices.
4. Chaco Liner or Chalk Fabric Marker
A Chaco liner, also known as a chalk fabric marker, is a tidy marking tool that leaves a clean, thin line on the fabric. It can easily be used on every type of fabric, from knit ribbing to leather. To remove the chalk, brush it away with your hand or an eraser brush. They come in several colours and can be refilled.
The purpose of an awl is not to draw on marks but to make holes. An awl can be used to mark drill holes, or dart ends into the fabric rather than chalking them on. It can sometimes be easier to see this than a marking. To avoid holes in your clothing, the awl markings are always made along the sewing lines.
6. Eraser Brush
Marking mistakes here can be easily corrected with an eraser brush which will cleanly remove chalk lines. These are handy to have in your sewing kit for quick fixes. I sometimes find that just wiping the chalk away can create a big mess on my fabric.
Quilting Sewing Marking Tools
Here are a few handy marking tools you can use if you would like to try quilting.
7. Mechanical Chalk Pencil
They can be used to mark patterns on fabric, but they are also commonly used in quilting or applique because they create very fine lines. The pencil can be refilled with chalk, and you can continue to use it.
8. Hera Marker
A Hera marker is a handy tool for marking lines in your quilting work, so you know where to hand stitch or machine stitch. I have been guilty of using a butter knife to mark my quilt jackets, but the Hera marker leaves a clean line that stays indented into the layers.
What brands do you recommend purchasing from?
I have included brands that I have used or trust throughout this blog post for you. Brands to look for are Clover, a trusted Japanese brand. Also, popular sewing brands like Singer, Dritz, Merchant and Mills are all good sources.
What is the most popular sewing marking tools?
A tailor’s chalk or fabric pencils are affordable and long lasting. The chalk is more versatile because it easily glides along most fabric types instead of pencils. If you have both, you will have a good selection for your different sewing projects.
How do I mark dark fabric?
Use a colour like yellow or white to mark darker fabrics. Many tailor’s chalks come in grey, which can be seen on most fabric colours. Marker pens may not appear on darker fabrics, so use chalk marking tools instead.
How do I mark fabrics like velvet?
Try using fabric pins to mark around your sewing pattern instead of these marking tools. It will be too difficult to see since the fabric’s nap will move around, making it difficult to know where the marked lines are.
Sewing Marking Tools Conclusion
With plenty of sewing marking tools available on the market, it can be confusing to know what you should buy for your sewing kit. I hope that this detailed guide has given you a deeper understanding of each marking tool and how you can use them to mark your fabrics when cutting out or sewing.