By Gretchen  Hirsch
Tailor’s tacks are thread marks used to indicate a pattern’s markings on your fabric. It’s one of those skills you see all the time in vintage sewing patterns and books, but few modern seamstresses use them. But now is the perfect time to learn! With winter sewing upon us, I’m using all those fabulous nubby wools in my stash—the ones that won’t cooperate with a tracing wheel because they’re too textured and squishy.

Tailor’s tacks work best for marking a pattern’s circles and squares. Here I’m using them to mark the circles on a dart leg.


To start, you’ll need some all-purpose thread and a hand sewing needle.

Thread the needle with a double strand of thread; there’s no need to knot the ends.

Take a small stitch through your first circle.

Pull the thread through, and leave a small thread tail.

Take another stitch right on top of the first.


Pull the thread through again, and leave a little loop of thread. 
Cut the thread, leaving a short tail.
Repeat this process on all your circles. It may look a little messy, but that’s ok!

When you’re ready to unpin your pattern pieces, gently pull apart the two layers of fabric.

Use small scissors to cut the threads between the two layers of fabric.

On the top of the paper pattern, cut through the loops so the pattern can be pulled off.

You’ll be left with little tufts of thread that will help you match your dart legs up while sewing!

Use tailor’s tacks to mark buttonholes, pocket placement marks, and any other pattern markings.


Gretchen “Gertie” Hirsch is a passionate home seamstress and the creator of one of the web’s most popular sewing blogs: Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing.  She has recently written a book, Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing .She teaches sewing in New York City, around the country, on PBS’s It’s Sew Easy, and on Her work has been featured in Sew Stylish, Vogue Patterns Magazine, Threads Magazine, Stitch Magazine, and on




About the Author

Lynn is Director of Consumer Services with Coats & Clark.

4 Responses to Tailor Tack Tutorial by Gertie
  1. My mom teach me to do exactly like this! Thanks for sharing!

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  3. […] work on the fabric at hand. I don’t like to waste time testing myself, so I use tiny snips or tailor’s tacks to mark my white fabric. I have also found that my tracing wheel sometimes leaves an imprint […]


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