How To Transfer A Sewing Pattern To Fabric

Anybody that works in sewing knows that transferring sewing patterns onto your fabrics make it much easier to begin the clothes making process. Given that sewing and making clothes is such a tedious business, any methods we can use to make this experience easier are very welcome!  

There are some of those that find transferring sewing patterns a delicate and stressful process but, trust us when we say that this doesn’t have to be the case. Down below we have outlined five easy different processes that can be ultimately incorporated into your routine and you’ll never want to go back! 

What is a sewing pattern?

Before we go on ahead with the three steps, allow us to explain what a sewing pattern even is.

First off, a sewing pattern is used to trace the outlines of the garment you are endeavoring to make before cutting it up and assembling all those pieces together. Patterns can be found on cardboard, paper, or overall sturdier materials. Which is why, transferring the likeness onto your fabrics can help you immensely in the process.  

There are many, many different types of sewing patterns out there, and we have decided to list out some of the most popular ones:

  • Dots. This pattern helps to distinguish stopping and starting points when it comes to stitching. They can easily show where different parts of the garment match up such as seam intersections or collars and so on. 
  • Cut lines. This particular pattern could be considered the most basic, and it helps to pick apart the different sizes. 
  • Bust and hip indicators. Quite self explanatory, this pattern helps you to pinpoint the hip and bust sections on your pattern. 
  • Grainline. If you have a textured piece or one with lots going on in the grain then this pattern goes along with the grain as you place the fabric pieces. 
  • Button markings. This pattern is used for those garments that employ the use of buttons. There will be pattern markings for the buttons to be placed. Therefore, you can have evenly placed cutouts for your buttons. 
  • On the fold. This pattern helps to distinguish any folds that can be found along the fabric. 

Picking the right sewing pattern for the piece you’re trying to make will incorporate a few different patterns but, ultimately just think about everything you will need to achieve those needs and the right sewing patterns will be easy to look for. 

Equipment / Tools You Will Need: 

  • The sewing pattern on carbon paper
  • A ruler
  • Marking tools
  • Pins 
  • Your choice of fabric

The Process

Firstly, test your chosen marking tool on scraps of fabric, just to make sure everything is working properly before you begin on your final piece. Check right side up of your project fabric to ensure the markings aren’t showing up and that they will be removable. Another tip to keep in mind, is to pick a marking tool color that is variant of the original color of the fabric and still easy enough to make out. 

Secondly, time to learn how to transfer those sewing patterns. Using those pins, you’ll keep that pattern fastened to your fabric. You can fold that carbon paper to ensure it fits in the are you intend for it. You want the marking part of the paper on the “wrong” side up or inside part of the fabric that won’t be on the outside. You can even place the transfer carbon paper on the inside of anything that is already sewed together. 

Thirdly, to transfer those markings you can do a couple of things. One thing you can do is utilize a ruler and a tracing wheel to get distinct and precise markings. If there are dots on your sewing pattern then you can just mark the center of every single one by hand.

You can use the pins, or a fabric pen of sorts, chalk, and tailor tacks. Down below we’ve listed out all the different processes you can use to transfer that pattern onto your fabric.      

5 Different Methods

1. Marking with pins

Sometimes clipping fabric at the seam allowance can be a stressful task, which is why you can use a pin to mark the notch. No need to worry about getting a precise marking, pins are versatile that way. Just poke the hole through with the sharp point or anything really that has that fine point. 

Push the pin through the allotted point and then press the pin through on the same hole, but on the other side of the fabric. Therefore, you’ll have two pins on either side, marking the darts in the notch, making it much easier to handle.  

2. Tracing wheel

A tracing wheel and tracing paper can be found virtually anywhere at any craft store. Which makes this easier in that respect. To use this, just place the tracing paper onto the fabric and run along the line with the tracing wheel. The chalk marks will clearly transfer the pattern while also remaining pretty easily removable. 

Voila! Now you have the sewing pattern on the fabric with very clear cut lines to follow. If you’re worried about darts, you can utilize double sided tracing paper to get that pattern on both sides of the fabric. Everything about this process is pretty straight-forward. 

3. Clipping notches

To mark these notches, the best straight-forward way to achieve these means is to just clip your seams. With the pattern and the fabric pinned together, you can easily cut over the notches and through the said fabric and pattern. Be sure not to cut the whole width of the seam allowance, and keep it a short cut around a certain length of millimeters. 

A pattern notcher is probably the best tool you could possibly keep in your toolbox, due to the readily ability to create channels for your notches. Marked notches are extremely helpful in these moments in lots of different ways. 

4. Tailors tacks

Quick and accurate, this method is easy to make out while also being sturdy enough to work with as well as remove when the time comes. You can easily mark things such as button holes and placement among other aspects that need to be marked in the beginning of the garment making process. 

Whilst the pattern remains on the fabric, you can sew a loop over the marking you are intending for transfer. A way you can achieve this is by pushing that needle through so that it is through both layers of this fabric. Repeat this process and you’ll have created a nice, threaded transfer of the pattern onto both sides of the said fabric.  

5. Pencil, chalk, or fabric pen

Another way to mark those dart points is to incorporate something more comfortably handled such as pencil, chalk, or a fabric pen. You can poke a hole through those dart points with something sharp such as a pencil tip or with a handy dandy pattern notcher, you can create those pattern notches onto the pattern. 

Once the fabric has been cut, you can begin to mark those dart points with a traditional pencil, a washable fabric pen, or the simple chalk pencil.  


Once things are pinned, cut, and prepared, you’ll have no problem transferring that sewing pattern onto your fabric. There is hardly ever one right way of doing anything, so luckily you’ll be able to find a transferable method that suits your liking. Making garments is all about taking risks but, also about honing your skills so that every time you make something, it’ll be more about creative freedom rather than stress.