Waxy carbon transfer paper is a fantastic tool that’s really difficult to find. I’ve wanted to be able to offer this tool to you for a couple of years now, and I’m so pleased that I was finally able to track down a source for it. (Believe me, it took some significant sleuthing to locate a supply!) We now have it available by the sheet in both blue and yellow colors.
It’s a shame that it’s so hard to find because it’s very useful. Waxy carbon paper is great for two purposes: tracing patterns and transferring markings onto fabric. It can be used on paper and on fabric. I like the blue and yellow carbon paper for almost everything, and these two colors serve different purposes. I’ll explain how and when I use them.
I use this carbon paper for making muslins so I can see the seam lines, dart markings, and notches as I’m making adjustments to a fit muslin. I talked about this in the muslin tutorial, if you’re interested in learning more. I mostly use blue carbon for muslins because the carbon lines are extremely visible on the fabric, but if I’m making a correction and want to distinguish my new markings from the original (blue) markings, I’ll switch to the yellow so I don’t confuse them.
Waxy carbon can also be useful for transferring markings to your fabric when you’re sewing. The lines it makes are very accurate and quick to transfer with the carbon and tracing wheel, so they’re great for transferring darts and other markings.
There are two things to keep in mind if you use waxy carbon on fashion fabric. First, waxy carbon markings are often permanent (they can sometimes be removed by a dry cleaner, but don’t count on it!), so use the lightest color that will show on the wrong side of your fabric and mark only the wrong side of your fabric. You don’t want those markings to show when you’re finished! I almost always use the yellow carbon on fabrics other than a fit muslin because the yellow is less messy and less likely to show from the right side of the finished garment.
The other thing to keep in mind is the thickness of the fabric itself. Again, because the markings are permanent there is always a possibility that they will be visible from the right side of the fabric if your fabric is thin or sheer. So test the carbon on a scrap of fabric if you’re not sure whether it’s safe for the fabric you’ve chosen. For many fabrics it will be fine, but it’s always a good idea to check first, just to be sure.
One sheet of waxy carbon paper can last you for years. I’m still using the same sheets I purchased in school. They’re still going strong after more than 12 years!