Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sewing Tailor Tacks that Stay

This week was fairly uneventful- if you don't count the notification that I will be going to the Sewing and Stitchery Expo (Puyallup WA) to teach- and actually that was (two??) weeks ago, so I'm really behind. I WILL blog about that once I can wrap my brain around it, but for now I want to tell you about Tailor Tacks. I think this is a very misunderstood technique and I've had illustrations to teach this concept on top of my scanner for a while now.

So what IS a tailor tack? It's the classic way of marking fabric. Some might call it old fashioned because it requires only a plain needle and thread, but the real benefit to this low tech method is it's the best way to mark BOTH sides of the fabric. The downside to this technique is that most people sew them or cut them wrong and the threads fall out, leaving you with no mark at all. When done correctly, there is a way to make them nearly permanent!
 Start with a long double or single thread on a needle with no knot, and take a small stitch through all layers, pattern included, at the place you need to mark. Leave a tail 2-3 inches long.
Take a second stitch through all layers beside the first stitch.

 Leave a long loop at least 3 inches tall.

For the sake of simplicity, let's assume that this is the only mark you need to make, so cut an ending tail the same as the first. This is the point where you would gently REMOVE the paper pattern by clipping only the paper between stitches. Again, for simplicity, I don't show this step to eliminate all steps that might keep you from understanding the basic technique. Lift the top layer of fabric.
You should now see the thread between. Keep lifting the top layer until the top of the loop is flat against the fabric, but not so much that the ends begin to slip too far away, undoing your stitch.

In 3-D, you are trying to separate the fabrics so the bulk of the thread length is in the middle with a flat stitch on top and bottom.

What it will really look like is this. Clip the threads in the middle. If this project will get lots of handling, or it will be a while before you get to it, I recommend you tie the inside threads of each side with a square knot. This makes them stable and permanent until you can use the mark. Clip the stitch and pull the threads out when you don't need them anymore.

You can also mark your fabric with a continuous line of stitch and loop. At the end of your line, simply cut the threads that run between the loops.

Use tailor tacks to mark a seam line, darts, and symbols - especially symbols that need to be visible on the right side of the fabric. It is handy to use a different color of thread to mark your different types of marks. This helps to distinguish them from each other.  Now you have a very couture method of marking!

1 comment:

  1. Oohhhh, one of my favorite sewing techniques! I gave up on tracing paper in about 6th grade.

    Thank you so much for stressing the need to leave long loops and tails as I think that short threads falling out of the fabric is the reason most people stop using this fabulous methods, which is so far superior to the other methods, regardless of the fabric used.

    One more necessary piece of information is to be sure that you pick a color of thread that will not transfer onto your fabric, either by rubbing off or by fiber transfer (ask me how I know!)


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