Allow me to wax poetic about tailor’s tacks for a moment? When I first started sewing, I figured tailor’s tacks were archaic and complicated and I never bothered to use them because they were hard and I could always use pins or chalk. Well, it turns out that pins fall out and chalk rubs off and tailor’s tack are actually really, really easy to use. I wish I could jump back in time and tell myself this so that I could have fallen in love with tailor’s tacks sooner. Instead, I’ll wax poetic here on my blog and hope that I can jump-start someone else’s love for tailor’s tacks before they might have otherwise fallen in love on their own.
So how do you make tailor’s tacks? Easy! Use a contrasting thread doubled through your needle. Bring your needle through both layers of fabric, coming back up as close as possible. You can do this through your pattern as well as your fabric. (I’ve left the pattern off in these instructions so it’s easier to see what I’m doing).
Coming from the same direction, bring your needle through the same points to create a loop.
As you pull the thread taught, make sure that you keep a loop of thread that’s about a finger in size.
Repeat the same stitch another time or two – this increases the number of threads that will be in your tailor’s tacks, making them easy to see and less likely to fall out.
Gently pull the layers of the fabric apart…
…and snip the tailor’s tacks. You’re done! If you were stitching through your pattern tissue, you can snip through the loop on the top of the fabric as well. The tailor’s tacks can be finished with a loop on one side or as little spikes of thread that stick out on either side.
If you have multiple tailor’s tacks to stitch, you don’t need to cut your thread in between them. Go ahead and snip the long connecting thread after you’ve made all the tacks as you are snipping the tacks apart.
Gently pull the layers apart and snip them as you would for a single tack. I often find it easiest to pull apart and snip one or two tacks at a time, even if I have a long line of tacks, because you don’t want to accidentally pull the tacks all the way out.
When do you use tailor’s tacks? All the time! Okay, seriously, you can use tailor’s tacks to transfer any kind of marking from your pattern to your fabric. It’s great for marking single points such as those denoted by small circles on patterns, often used for marking where a pattern piece meets a seam.
You can use tailor’s tacks to mark darts. You can do so at set points along the dart (like those marked in the pattern above) or, for even more precision, mark the entire length of the dart (like the first picture in the post). You can also use a line of tailor’s tacks to mark lines for fitting such as the center front line.
Tailor’s tacks are excellent for marking button placement as single points or buttonhole placement by marking each end of the buttonhole.
You can also use buttonholes to mark pocket placement. Mark each corner so that you can perfectly align your patch pocket, like the patch pocket of the Electron Layette Cardigan shown here. You can use the tailor’s tacks to mark the edge of anything that needs placement, like the handles of the Presidio Purse.
Do you use tailor’s tacks? Have you been smitten with them from the beginning or did you have to have a revelation like I did?