Tailor’s chalk is probably my most-used marking tool. I have a few other marking tools I like to use, too (and I’ll talk about those another day), but tailor’s chalk is the one I use most frequently. Tailor’s chalk is more compressed than sidewalk or chalkboard chalk, so it doesn’t crumble quite as easily and makes a sharper line. I think it would be accurate to say that tailor’s chalk is more silky than sidewalk chalk, if that makes any sense.
As a marking tool, chalk works best on darker colors (although the yellow is actually really good at marking pretty much any color except yellow) and makes a very visible line on the fabric. It rubs or washes out when you’re finished with it, so you don’t need to worry about the marks becoming permanent. It’s great for transferring markings from a pattern, for marking stitching lines on your fabric, and even for tracing around a pattern piece before you cut. (Once you’ve traced the pattern piece you can remove it from the fabric and cut on the chalked lines, which makes for really accurate cutting if you like to work that way.)
And here’s a little trick I learned from my tailoring professor many years ago: you can sharpen the edge of your chalk by scraping it with a sharp knife or blade. I use my Xacto blade and hold it over the garbage while I gently scrape it away from me at a 45-degree(ish) angle, and this gives it a really nice, sharp edge that draws a fine, crisp line. So you can keep using the same piece of chalk for quite a while, even when it’s just a little piece.
We’ve added my favorite tailor’s chalk to the shop in two colors: white and yellow. So if you need it for your tool box it’s there for you. We’re gradually assembling a nice collection of sewing tools and supplies that I hope will be useful to you! I like being able to share all my favorites with you where you can find them all together in one place.