When making clothing and other projects with sewing machines, there are times when you’ll need to mark the fabric to help you with the next steps. Notches, darts, stitch lines, and other measurements should all be marked on the fabric to ensure accuracy when cutting or sewing for projects made on Juki sewing machines like the Juki HZL-DX7.
Which marking tool should you use? Make the best choice for the fabric you’re working with by first understanding the positives and negatives of each type of marker and when each one should be used.
1. Tailor’s Chalk
Tailor’s chalk is the most commonly chosen option for sewists who need to mark fabric before stitching on sewing machines. It is shaped as either a triangular sliver form or a standard piece of chalk in a holder.
On the plus side, chalk leaves a sharp line that is easily brushed from most fabrics, does not leave any residue, and can mark everything from fine to thick, textured fabric. The biggest complaints about chalk are that it may come off too easily and must be repeatedly sharpened to leave a crisp line.
2. Ceramic Lead Pencils
Ceramic lead pencils are mechanical-type pencils loaded with ceramic lead available in different colors. They make a sharp accurate line, can be refilled, and marks can be easily washed off or erased with the included eraser. The downside is that the fine point frequently breaks and can snag fabric. Ceramic lead doesn't mark textured fabric well.
3. Chaco Liner Pens
Chaco liner pens are like a combination of ceramic lead pencils and tailor’s chalk. Available in multiple colors, the tip of these pens places a sharp, fine line of powder on many fabric weights and textures and never needs sharpening.
Chaco pens are more expensive than previous options and the powder can be difficult to remove and may require washing.
4. Water-Soluble Markers or Pens
More permanent than chalk or powder, water-soluble markers are another favorite choice of sewists who need to mark washable fabric before sewing it on their Juki sewing machines. Markers are available in different colors, make prominent, precise lines and mark on a variety of fabrics. Any residue can be removed with a dot of water or by washing the fabric.
The main complaints are that marks sometime disappear before being washed off, pens dry up quickly, and marks may spread or come back if not pre-treated.
5. Wax and Bar Soap Chips
Wax and bar soap chips are two easy options to mark most washable fabrics; they are inexpensive, readily available, and can be washed out. Both apply easily to make quick sewing marks before stitching with a Juki HZL-DX7. On the downside, soap can leave smudges in the fabric until washed away and wax that is either pressed or washed off can leave oily discolorations in fabrics.
6. Tracing Wheel and Carbon Paper
Marking with a tracing wheel and carbon paper is a preferred way to make longer crisp lines or mark two layers of fabric at once. It’s great for making accurate, contrasting marks on lighter weight fabric and tracing around entire pattern pieces. The negative is that the carbon marks may smudge and often aren’t dark enough.
7. Tailor’s Tacking
Tailor’s tacking is done by hand using thread and needle to put in basting lines and other marks that are pulled out after sewing. It’s a preferred option for fabrics that are easily stained by other mark options that cannot be washed. The negative to hand tacking is it takes longer and can leave needle holes in finer fabrics.
8. Hera Marker
Hera markers are hard, pointed pieces of plastic designed to make crease marks on fabric. Because it leaves no ink, chalk, or other residue, it’s another way to mark fabric sensitive to markers. Unfortunately, the marks tend to disappear quickly and some fabrics are not easily creased.
Which marking tool should you use when making projects sewn on Juki sewing machines? Determine if the fabric is washable and what type of mark will be left. You do need pattern marks for accuracy when making clothing and other items with sewing machines like the Juki HZL-DX7. Just be sure to choose a marking tool that will work for and not against you!