Sewing Supplies: Tailor’s Chalk and Dressmaker’s Tracing Paper

I find that Dressmaker’s Tracing Paper in white is best for transferring stitching lines to fabrics. Once the seams are steam pressed open the markings disappear from the fabric.

“Jems” Tailors’ Chalk.

I also recommend old fashioned Tailor’s Chalk when there is a need to mark seam allowances or sewing lines onto the fashion fabric. Before I attended the formal course of training at The French Fashion Academy, I’d always relied on pattern layouts from commercial sewing patterns. At the Academy we were taught to draft our patterns without seam allowances. Once the patterns had been tested and/or altered and were ready to be cut in the fashion fabric the pieces were laid on the right side of the fabric.

We used either pins or pattern weights to hold the pattern pieces down. Shears or rotary cutters were used at different times. It all depended on the fabric being used. No matter which fabric it was, though, we had to measure out, using the clear plastic ruler, 1/2″ from the pattern edges. Tailor’s Chalk was used because it was easy to brush off and did not stain the fabric.

I never got a clear answer as to why this method of cutting was used but I’ve followed it ever since and find it much easier to mark the fashion fabric. Tailor’s tacks can be made along the seams and sleeve edges much easier. If they are needed inside the garment, in a dart for example, a hole puncher can be used to mark the location along the dart stitching lines on the paper pattern before it is placed on the fabric..

I recently bought a box of Tailor’s Chalk from and was pleasantly surprised when the box arrived. The very old fashioned packaging appealed to me, especially since I’m embarking on a journey into retro inspired dressmaking. How nice it would be to have sewing supplies that also echo a little of that feeling.

Inside the box of “Jems” Tailors’ Chalk.

Inside the packaging the 36 pieces of chalk are nestled between what appears to be sawdust. I think this is done to prevent breakage. The chalk worked out just fine and I can always place the individual piece inside of the plastic holder from an old piece of Dritz marking chalk I bought in the past.


Note: is owned by A. Feibusch Corporation, a New York City based shop that has been providing zippers and other sewing notions since 1941. I do not have any relationship to this supplier and did not receive any merchandise in exchange for a posting at this blog.

When I find something interesting or good I’m happy to pass the info on.