Tailor tacks : How to make Tacking Stitches for marking

Tacking refers to stitching or using some other means to keep fabric layers together temporarily in preperation for stitching before the final permenant sewing.

Tacking stitches are also called basting stitches in this context. Check out the post on the different basting stitches used in sewing, if you are looking for stitches that are temporary stitches holding fabric layers together

But tacking stitches are used for temperorily marking fabric as well. These tacking stitches are different from the loose running stitches which are also referred as basting stitches.This is a loose looped stitch which is cut on the fabric, as an indication as to where to stitch finally

tailor tacks

Why do we make Tack stitches ?

There are places in your fabric for sewing where you are not able to mark patterns using the usual way – with chalk or tracing wheel on the face of the fabric 

Maybe you donot want to make obvious markings on your precious fabric or may be it is dryclean only fabric and you donot want to touch even a drop of water to remove difficult marks; maybe it is a heavily beaded/sequined fabric; may be it is an open loose weave fabric and you cannot mark any other way; maybe your chalk is missing and you have rusty pins; maybe you have more than one layer of fabric in which the markings have to be exact.

Whatever the reason the Tailor Tacks is a very useful stitch to master.The tacking stitches works great as temporary marking stitches.

Positions like dart positions, buttonhole endings, foldlines, pleats, closures, pocket corners etc are marked using tack stitches this way


How to make the Tailor’s tack stitch

Step 1 Keep the pattern paper on top of the fabric layers

tack stitch

Thread your sewing needle so that you have two strands of a constrasting thread on the needle.

Step 2 Make loose running stitches of 1 to 1.5 inch length through all the layers – the pattern paper and the fabric layers.

tacking stitch

Leave a lot of tail at the start and at the ending and make really loose stitches so that they project out as loops. The stitches should appear like small loops on the surface. 

You can make individual tack stitches or continous tack stitches depending on the purpose. For button positions, buttonhole ends etc individual tailor’s tacks are used. For dart markings, seams etc you make continous tack stitches.

Step 3 When you have finished the stitches, cut through the top of the loops of the stitches.

tacking stitches

Use the thread snips for this or sharp small pointed scissors. It will now look like the above picture . You should make bigger loops than what I have made if you have more than one layer of fabric under the pattern paper

Step 4 Now you can carefully remove the pattern paper.

tailor's tack stitch

The cut loops will give you direction as to where you should make the permenant stitches

Step 5 If you have more than one layers. ( ie you have two identical fabric on which you need to make the markings at the same place) Carefully open up the top layers of fabric and as you open very carefully cut the stitches in between.

tacking stitch

This will leave thread markings on both the layers of fabric. you have to ensure that the thread donot come off the top layer as you cut

After you have made the final permanent stitches you can simply take off the tacking stitches; they come off easily enough.

If the fabric is very fine and you are afraid that these tack’s will slip out you will have to make bigger loops so that you have longer tails.You can also make knots with the tails to ensure they donot fall off

Tie tack stitch

This is a stitch used to join fabric layers together in one spot. The needle makes a loop stitch and take out the tail so that you have two tails on top of the fabric. These tails are then tied to make the tack stitch.