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I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon

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Monday, June 11, 2018

Basic hand sewing stitches #5: the tailor tack

Really, really simple and easy way to transfer markings from a sewing pattern to your fabric.

Yes I know, I know that there are a gazillion tools and pens etc. to help you do it - but really sometimes classic is better.

Here's why I think so:


Ccmel said...

Proof that you can always learn something new! I thought I knew how to do tailors tacks, but it never occurred to me to colour code them. Brilliant!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. I am learning a lot!

Cindy said...

To mark a dart would you do a series of these in a line?


Anne Frances said...

Lovely clear demonstration. Worth noting perhaps that what you show is exactly the way to do a tailor's tack to mark a specific point. However, if one wants to thread-mark the whole distance along a stitching line, which is sometimes a very good way to ensure that, for example on a curved seam, the stitching is absolutely accurate, then one can do a whole line of interlinked looped stitches. The loop has to be cut to remove the pattern, and then the two pieces are separated and the thread cut between them. The thread markings aren't as secure as tailor tacks, but usually adequate for marking a stitching line. That may be what you have seen on the internet and you are quite right that it isn't tailor's tacking but rather a form of thread-tracing. I do nevertheless find it a quite useful technique on occasions.

Lyndle said...

Another great video Barbara. Thanks for the colour coding tip. I seem to have trouble with my tailor tacks coing out before I want them to, even if I try to minimise handling (which I’m not great at, I admit to carrying stuff around the house from cutting to sewing zones). Any tips?

Barbara said...

For a dart many patterns have a dot at the end point and maybe 2-4 fewer for a one pointed dart more for a longer French dart marked on the pattern. For a simple pie shaped dart I would put in a tailor tack at the pointed end and mark the wider points at the seam lines, called dart legs, with little clips in the seam allowances.

Galica said...

I learnt this in 'domestic science' class. But I don't often use it because I seem to always manage to pull half the threads out.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this! I have tried to do tailor tacks but never learned an efficient way to do them or to remove the pattern, so this is fantastic.

growingupsewing said...

In my prior sewing life (BACK IN THE DAY) this was the only method I knew. I didn't know about scratching the pattern between stitches to make for easy removal. I would grab the tissue on both sides of the loop and tear as carefully as I could. This could be a problem if one is using a pdf pattern and/or heavier paper. Any suggestions there?
I would leave longer tails (and a bigger loop) so I didn't usually lose the tailor tack before I wanted to, but my problem was getting the thread out after sewing over it. It seemed that invariably the machine needle would pierce the thread at some place and make it really difficult to remove.
Any ideas on that issue?

Kim said...

I learned how to do tailor tacks in design school and have never done anything else to mark my patterns. I think they are much easier than dealing with marking tools and you don't have to worry about staining the fabric. It never occurred to me to use different color threads though so thanks for the awesome tip! It is wonderful that you are passing on this information!

Carol said...

I have a question about Page 99 in your book. If you lower the back crotch curve in order to eliminate horizontal folds and then also lower the front crotch curve the same amount does this eliminate the problem or just make the entire crotch too low? I always lower the back crotch and stretch the back inseam to match the front. I don't lower the front crotch. Wondering if I am missing something? Love your book and have learned a lot.

Barbara said...

Carol great question! Both approaches work, depending on how much you have to ease in. This is really body dependent and as always learning what fits your own figure is key. Over time I have realised that many women with a “dropped seat” are also heavier below the waist then they used to be and balancing the front and back inseams makes sense to accomodate this, if the front seam as a result (depends on weight distribution) then seems a bit long it can then be shortened at the waist line. This is when a crotch curve template can be handy. That said you are definitely completely right that for a modest lowering of the back, say up to an inch, you can reasonably ease in that extra front seam by stretching the back. The key is to do this stretching only on the angled part of the inseam. Trying to stretch too much and further down the leg risks distorting the grainline and the hang of the leg. In fitting someone depending on what I see and on how much if an adjustment we have to make I might even do a little of both, lowering both seams and stretching the back seam a bit. It’s a bit like sculpture. I really liked this question because it emphasizes the importance of looking at your own body and understanding what it is trying to tell you about what it needs where. In a general book with only one chapter on fitting I tried to stick to the principles rather than every situation and I hope that doing that I was able to give women confidence to make their own evaluations. Please send on any other questions, I enjoy this.

Barbara said...

As to how to keep Tailor tacks from slipping out my best advice is leave yourself long enough tails. The side with the loop will always stay but the side withvthe cut ends need to be at least an inch or more. Be generous. In my experience only the short clips come out. As to catching the thread in stitching, I generally pull the tacks out just before I might stitch through them at the machine.

Xpresso said...

“Duh”, she said slapping her forehead. In nearly 60 years of sewing it has never once occurred to me to colour code my tailor tacks. Brilliant, and once you know it, obviously useful. And pulling the threads before stitching over them - again, “Duh”. An excellent example of why we need to pass on our knowledge.
Thanks, Barb.
And let me say that just one tip I got from your book recently saved me enough time on an upholstery project to cover the price of the book: using masking tape to remove the little thread bits when you 'unsew' a seam. Again, brilliant and obviously useful once you know about it. Those little thread bits didn’t stand a chance.
You are a (inter) national treasure.
A question - you may well have posts dealing with upper and lower tension setting but, if not, would you consider doing one? Different weights of fabric, does one fiddle the bottom or only the top? That sort of thing.
Thanks again, hoping you are having summer as opposed to the Junuary we’re having on the ‘Wet’ Coast.

Barbara said...

I will think about tensions, any issue in particular?

Denise said...

Thank you so much for such a clear, concise explanation. I've never learned how to do tailor's tacks but I already can see how they will improve my sewing game! I'm eager to put this into practice. Thanks again,