Apronalong – Tailors Tacks & Stepping Up A Gear

Hello, my fellow Aproners. Today, we’re going to apply tailor’s tacks to our cut out pieces, and I’m going to supply a few details about how the Apronalong is to progress.

We need a deadline! When I say deadline, I mean date for our party. Sunday 4 November is the day I’d like us all to go ‘live’ with our aprons. Blogging fun will abound and I already have a guest post lined up on some baked goods you could make whilst wearing your aprons. (Yummy!)

I also have some awesome guest posts lined up about apron embellishment. The first extremely inspiring guest post will go live tomorrow. It’s a corker! I also intend to slightly up the pace of my Apronalong blog posts.

But now, back to our tailor’s tacks.

tailor’s tack – a loose, looped, sewing stitch used to transfer marking for darts, etc., from a pattern to material

Why are we bothering with these? Why not just mark everything with a piece of chalk? Because bothering to learn about tailor’s tacks means learning good practice, and once you’ve learned that it’s in your ammunition for ever. You may not use tailor’s tacks on every single thing you go on to make, but if you had to – you could. Think of yourself as the Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin of sewing. Before you can display your messed up bed as a ground-breaking installation, you need to have gone to the Royal College of Art!

So, back to the pattern. You’ll see that pieces 10, 11, 12, 14 and 15 all have little circles (and two squares) marked on them.

We want to transfer all 15 of these marks to our fabric pieces. Sounds tedious? It truly isn’t. I promise that this task takes no longer than 30 minutes. Personally, I love making myself a coffee or herbal tea, putting the radio on, collecting my equipment and sitting quietly for half an hour. It’s one of those Me Time moments that we all need.

The equipment to gather:

Cut your thread. Don’t be tempted to cut huge, long lengths of thread – it will only knot and make you swear. As a general rule, I hold the bobbin in one hand and stretch my arm out, pulling the end of thread in my other hand until my hand reaches my throat. Imagine you’re doing the Usain Bolt pose. That’s a decent-sized length for this type of work! Then thread your needle, doubling up the thread.

A Note On Thread Why silk or mercerized cotton? Because it’s really slippery, which will make it much easier to remove your tacks when the time is right. Choose a colour that will contrast well with your fashion fabric – you don’t want to be peering and squinting to find your tailor’s tacks. (Hmmm. Not sure I did so well on that front.)

I start my tailor’s tacks with piece 10. You can see that there’s one large dot and one small. I put the point of my needle through both layers of fabric and the paper pattern, inserting on one edge of the dot,  with the needle emerging on the other side.

Then, I go back and sew through the same place again, creating a loop.

I take my cutting implement and snip my thread, leaving a long tail. Then I snip through my loop.

I’ve just made a tailor’s tack! Then I go and make tailor’s tacks in any other places where there’s a dot on the same pattern piece. For this piece, I only have one more to make.

Now, I need to peel my paper pattern away from my fabric. Gently does it. I find it useful to press my fingertips against the thread where they pass through the fabric. It’s all too easy to drag the threads out with your paper pattern, and that would be a shame.

Once the paper pattern is out of the way, I open up the layer between fabrics and snip the threads there, too. I pull the two pieces apart – et, viola! I have tailor’s tacks in two of my apron pieces.

Put these to one side, pinning the paper pattern to them for future reference.

Two down, only 13 more to go… (Honestly. It really doesn’t take that long.)

Special mention must go to the main apron panel (piece 12). There are two dots there to indicate pocket placement. The pattern has you place the pocket on the right side of the piece – but are you right handed? I’m not! So I put these tacks on the left side. Remember this, left-handed friends!

You also don’t need these tacks to go through both layers of the folded piece, so open up and place the pattern piece accordingly…

If you cut your Tie End sections on the fold, as I did, you’ll need to open those out, too. You only need tailor’s tacks on one end of your ties.

FINAL TOP TIP You’ll need to remove any pins that are getting in the way of your work, but if you’re anxious about the paper pattern shifting about, just pop a pin in near where you’re working:

That’s your lot. Guys, I can hardly believe it. We’re ready to start sewing!

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10 Responses to Apronalong – Tailors Tacks & Stepping Up A Gear

  1. I’ve just got my fabric at the Knitting and Stitching show so I’ll be catching up and tailor tacking this weekend! I like the idea of baking on a special day; shall I make my signature chocolate cake or make Christmas Cake?

  2. This was my job when my mother sewed for me (many moons ago). I find tailor’s tacks one of my favourite things to do and I just can’t bring myself to using chalk – not natural for me. I pin all lines/circles which need to be tacked and remove as I go along. As I’m trying to learn all things tailoring, why throw away the tried and true techniques that serve us well, all for the sack of making the job quick – tailor’s tacks – always for me.

  3. Nikki says:

    Tailor’s tacks – a sewer’s lifeline! I can remember being shown by Mum years ago what to do and being bored by them. Now I wouldn’t be without them. I hope all the new sewers reading this realise their importance and how easy they really are. Your instructions are right on the “ball” :-) Sorry no pun intended!! They are fantastic, even though I know how to do them, I read right down to the end of this post (and I’m not even making the apron either!)
    What a great post!

  4. Ann says:

    Wow, I never knew the right way to do them! I tried once and somehow screwed it up and it was frustrating. I’ll try again! (I’m not making the apron either, just reading for fun…) Thanks!

  5. liza jane says:

    I’m definitely an art nerd, but I giggled at the Damien Hirst reference. I hate to admit it, but I’ve never made tailor’s tacks before. I must step up my game.

  6. Jennifer says:

    I’m a bit behind and just on this stage tonight. Thank you for this post, I have never done tailors tacks before and this was so helpful. It was also a bit of a lightbulb moment as realised I should do this when making pockets on bags rather than just seeing if it looks like its in the right place!

  7. Pingback: Jacket Tailoring – The Wool is Cut | Purls and Pleats

  8. Pingback: Pyjama Party – Preparation | Did You Make That?

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