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Special marker for adding SA?

kbalinski | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

I’m looking for a marker/compass type of notion that will quickly mark my seam allowances on my paper patterns.  I use Burda World of Fashion Magazine often, and tracing is easy, but adding the seam allowances takes me longer than anything!  Today I used a regular compass (usually for drawing circles) set open to 5/8″ and ran the point end along the seam line so the pencil drew in the cutting line.

Am I going crazy, or is there a special marker/notion that is designed specifically for this task???

Kristine in Michigan (who won $50 playing Texas Hold’em last night and also wants to buy a point presser and clapper!)


  1. starzoe | | #1

    I use the Burda mag. patterns quite often too - love their panache. About the seam allowances - I cut cardboard strips the width I want, 1cm, 1.5cm, etc. There may be a tool for this but the short (6") strips work pretty well (and free!).Congrats on the win: I won a $300 door prize at a Christmas party - a half-day cruise around the Gulf Islands and dinner for 4 on the boat!

    Edited 1/2/2009 6:09 pm ET by starzoe

    1. JeanM | | #2

      Kbalinski---There is a Burda 3 in 1 Tracing Wheel.  It is a tracing wheel and in the other slot you can put chalk.  There are 4 positions for the chalk.  It came with 3 packages of chalk (still unopened by me).  It is called 3 in 1 because it can used as a single wheel, with the chalk marker or as a double tracing wheel.  I haven't cut out many items which needed a seam allowance to be added but it seems to me that I just eyeballed the 5/8 or 1/4", which I wouldn't recommend for everyone.  LOL.  Starzoe's suggestion is good.  Olfa made a rotary cutter that had a little arm and it could be placed the needed distance, but I read somewhere that it has been discontinued (but some online sites may still have it).

      Starzoe--congratulations.  Some nice little extras there.

  2. Teaf5 | | #3

    Two tips I picked up somewhere:  1. measuring tapes are 5/8" wide; just lay it dwon along the seam and mark away--you don't need continuous lines, just dots or dashes, or  2. put a 5/8" tab of masking tape on the top blade of your scissors so that you can line it up visually with the seam line while cutting both the pattern and the fabric.

    For a 1/4" seam, a Threads contributor suggested rubber-banding two wooden pencils together, then tracing along the seam line as you did with the compass.

    1. JeanM | | #4

      Oh, I forgot about the tape measure.  Isn't there also a little metal clip you can add to scissors and place them at 5/8"?   I have not used this clip effectively as of yet.  I also bought one of those 1/4" wide plastic "sticks" (used by quilters) for the narrower seam allowances, plus there is a small disc which has a hole for a pencil point and this also is for a 1/4" seam (also from the quilters).

      I didn't realize that there were so many aids until this thread.  I'll bet others can come up with more.

      1. kbalinski | | #5

        I've used the tape measure trick, but it's the curves (sleeves and armscyes) that are such a pain...

        I think I found what I was looking for here:  Clover's Double Tracing Wheel.  As I follow the seam line, it will mark the cutting line at the same time.

        Affordable enough to leave me enough to buy the point press/clapper, too!

        Thanks ladies, you've been so helpful!!!


        Edited 1/2/2009 9:57 pm ET by kbalinski

        1. sewelegant | | #10

          How did you ever find this tool?  Your dilemma has been one of my pet peeves for years.  I do wonder about the way it works... does it punch holes through the paper as you are tracing? Or do you use it after you have traced and cut out your (Burda) pattern and go around the pattern piece as it is pinned to the fabric?  Are the holes readily visible?  I've always just used the tape measure width or 6" gauge and I know it can be very tedious.

          1. LindaG | | #11

            Hi all,I read these posts on a break from tracing a Burda WOF pattern and was inspired to try out some homemade ideas for adding seamlines (which I find very tedious). I like half inch seamlines. I found that a narrow strip of corrugated cardboard between two pencils created the right gap between the two pencil points. I put rubberbands around the two pencils with the cardboard between them. One pencil traces the seamline and the other draws a line a half inch away. In use, the pencils need to be adjusted from time to time, so this isn't fuss-free. But it gives me a more accurate seamline than I could get by eye, and I don't have to monitor something constantly.Linda

          2. dawn | | #12

            Linda -

            Your suggestion reminded me of something I saw in Clotilde's catalog yesterday - this:


            I decided not to get it because it marks 5/8" seam allowances, and I always use 1/2" with Burda patterns.  I love your idea better!


          3. kbalinski | | #13

            Thanks everyone, the previous post was the "A-ha!" moment for me.  I can make that, and save myself a few bucks.  Maybe now I will stop dreading the tracing-off part of the process!


          4. LindaG | | #14

            Rummaging through the old craft supplies, I found a box of craft sticks (a.k.a. popsicle sticks). Two or 3 of these between the pencils worked, too.

            Edited 1/4/2009 5:24 pm ET by LindaG

  3. Ralphetta | | #6

    Yes, there is. I got mine to use with Burda patterns. I've looked at mine and there is no brand name on it. It has 2 wheels that can be inserted into the base so that you can trace your choice width of seam allowances. I'm pretty sure I found it at JoAnn or Hancock because those are the only places with sewing supplies in town.

  4. sewchris703 | | #7

    I trace the sewing line and just eyeball a seam allowance. I learn this method from my boss who drafts all her patterns. She then sews on the tracing line and trims the excess fabric after the fitting. But she uses a tracing paper that disappears with the heat of the iron. I can't tell you what brand it is as she gets it when she goes back to Indonesia to visit family.Chris

    1. kbalinski | | #8

      That's really not a bad idea, especially when I'm using my serger anyway! Never crossed my mind... and it's makes sense.  My mom taught me how to sew 20 years ago, and I've never questioned her technique, but she never knew BWOF existed, just the big 4, and she taught me the way her mother taught her... vicious cycle! 

      Thanks for the tip, it will definitely help speed up the process!


      1. sewchris703 | | #9

        Just make sure that the marks will come out/disappear from the finished garment. Especially if you alter the seams larger instead of smaller. I have white for all light fabrics and yellow for the dark. The wax tracing paper I get from the fabric store doesn't work. I found this chalk based one on line from Clotilde. I haven't used it. It looks heavier than the tissue paper thin tracing paper I get from my boss.http://www.clotilde.com/detail.html?prod_id=122&criteria=tracing+paperChris

  5. Pattiann42 | | #15

    Tape three pencils together, center one not as low as the other two and you have a seam allowance drawing tool

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