The tracing wheel and tracing paper method is perhaps the easiest most traditional way to transfer seamlines (and other marks) from your sewing patterns to the corresponding fabric pieces. While very simple and convenient, the underside to using this technique is that it does not work with all fabrics- you won't be able to transfer the tracing paper marks to bold prints and highly-textured fabrics- they lines will simply not show. The tracing wheel and tracing paper technique works best with sold crisp fabrics especially natural content ones like cotton, linen and silk. In addition, the tracing wheel will leave some significant perforation on the paper pattern which will eventually weaken and damage the pattern with continuous use. Nevertheless, this is the best techniques to use as a sewing beginner, since you will most likely practice with crisp cotton fabrics (like muslin) on your first few projects.
First and foremost, to use the tracing while and tracing paper transfer technique, your sewing patterns should have clearly defines seamlines.
If your seamlines are not marked on your pattern, draw them with a clear plastic ruler as shown above, given that the seam allowance is pre-calculated and included in the pattern. The seam allowance measurements should be indicated in your pattern set. Fortunately, most commercially available sewing patterns will include seamlines, usually marked as dash lines or solid line (depending on the pattern company) to designate the stitch lines.
1. Once your pattern is pinned an d fully cut, place tracing paper underneath pinned pattern. Fabric wrong side should be touching the tracing paper's face side. This should be done after the pattern is fully cut but before separating it form the fabric layers underneath. The fabric should lay smooth and be accurately placed in relation to the paper pattern on top- this will ensure maximum precision in the resulting tracing paper lines.
2. Applying a bit of pressure, trace along the marked pattern's seamlines (or stitch lines) with a tracing wheel as shown above. Double check the back of the fabric to ensure the line is visible traced- if not noticeable, trace again, pressing a bit harder as you move down the line.
If working with a double fabric cut, work with two tracing paper sheets, placing one on top and the other on the bottom, such that they both touch the fabric's wrong side on both sides. Based on the fabric layer placement, you will have to unpin the pattern on top so that you can insert the tracing paper in between the paper and fabric layers. Only unpin the edge you are tracing and not the entire pattern as this will provide more stability and accuracy in the transfer process.
As you did for the single fabric layer above, trace directly on the pattern seamline with your tracing wheel. In this case, you may need to apply a bit more force to capture both fabric layers. It may be helpful to trace a few times over the same line but keep in mind that doing so will weaken the paper pattern at the seamline- a simple trick to reinforcing the pattern is to apply scotch tape on top of the perforation marks left by the tracing wheel. Using a cutting mat underneath all layers me result in a more distinct traced line.
Once traced, a dotted line impression will be left on the fabric's wrong side. This line should only be traced to the fabric's wrong side and should not be so heavily-applied that it bleeds through the garment's face side. The beauty of tracing paper design specifically for use with fabric is that the lines can be easily washed away without the permanently damaging the finished garment.