Using a Tracing wheel

using a tracing wheel

Hey there sewers! Ready to take your hand-stitching and design skills to the next level? Then you need to learn how to use a tracing wheel. No matter what level of experience you have, tracing wheels are an essential tool that can help you make precise stitching patterns as well as copy patterns from one material to another.

A tracing wheel is a handheld tool that looks like a circular cookie cutter with a pointy wheel on the end. Its purpose is to trace patterns onto fabric without having to use pins or markers. It even works great for transferring designs onto paper.

How to use a tracing wheel is simple. Start by finding the pattern you want to transfer to your fabric. Pin the two pieces of material together with the pattern in between them before using your tracing wheel. Place the wheel on the pattern side and steadily roll it back and forth to make a traced outline of the original pattern onto the other piece of fabric. You can make several passes with the tracing wheel if you need a full and detailed trace.

The greatest benefits of using a tracing wheel are accuracy and speed. This tool helps you make sure you stitch or cut the exact shape or line you intend to make. Plus, it’s faster than using a ruler and marker to create the same outline. Plus, you don’t have to worry about ruining your fabric with pen or marker ink, like you would if you used these traditional marking tools.

There are three basic types of tracing wheels on the market. You’ll need to experiment a bit with them to really see how they work for different types of fabrics or for pattern making.

Smooth Tracing Wheel

A smooth tracing wheel has a flat edge and must be used with tracing paper to produce a mark on the fabric. Some seamstresses recommend them because they are potentially less damaging to pattern pieces.

However, they also can potentially cut pattern pieces into, well, pieces, if too much pressure is applied. I don’t recommend them with paper patterns for this reason. Personally, I’ve not really found them to be much use for anything, but you may, and I want to cover all the bases.

smooth tracing wheel
serrated tracing wheel

Serrated (or Sprocket) Tracing Wheel

It’s good for tracing marks from a pattern to fabric pieces. If you’re not planning to try to make your own patterns, this tracing wheel will be sufficient for your needs.

Once again, this wheel generally requires tracing paper, though it may make a sufficient indentation on some fabrics that will last until you can trace them with a fabric pencil or chalk.

Needlepoint Tracing Wheel

This is the tracing wheel most recommended by professionals and those who delve into making original patterns.

Once you see one, it’s obvious where it got its name. It has very sharp points, so some caution should be taken, both when using it yourself or if a child uses it.

needlepoint tracing wheel

In most cases, no tracing paper is needed for this tool. It is used to create deep indentations that can be easily traced on either pattern paper, fabric, or even leather. There are also self-healing cutting mats available that can help protect your work surface while you trace and work with fabric.

Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced sewer and quilter, a tracing wheel is an essential tool in any sewing arsenal. With a little practice, you can quickly trace nearly any pattern with accurate results every time – giving your projects the perfect finishing touch!

Article By:
Kalpana Singh

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