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Favorite tools: The screw punch


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This site is no longer being updated so head over to Seamwork to get all the latest patterns, tutorials, video classes, and more.

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Today I’m sharing one of my favorite tools when cutting and marking patterns: the humble screw punch.

What is a screw punch? It’s basically a hole punch. But unlike your regular office hole punch, you can punch holes anywhere on your paper, not just near an edge.

It has a removable tip for various hole sizes. You simply press down on it to punch a hole. Be sure to have a cutting mat underneath, or a thick surface you don’t mind cutting up (like cardboard), because it will punch straight through.

I use it every single time I cut a pattern to punch holes in the markings.

As soon as I cut my patterns, I punch holes in the markings. It’s part of my process. Here, I’ve punched a hole in the circle that indicates the shoulder seam on a sleeve.

Then I just mark the fabric with my handy Clover pencil, and that’s that!

Also very helpful for dart tips, or any other markings on the interior of a pattern.

There are lots of them at various price points on Amazon, so pick one up! It’s worth it, I assure you.

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 23


I’ve never come across one of these little things, but I don’t know how I’ve survived without one for so long! I love the look of what it does and will be getting one asap! Thanks for sharing ;o)


I’ve had one for years from an old scrapbooking kit of tools and it’s come in handy for all sorts of things, including making holes in belts. But it never occurred to me to use it to punch holes in patterns. Great idea!


That is a very cool idea!! I’ll keep my eyes peeled for one, for sure! :)


Oh, this sounds wonderful. I am going to look for one on Ebay today.


I have one that has a tinier punch to it. Your post reminded me though, how do you store your patterns or slopers? In class at Portland Sewing, everything is hung up and there is a huge hole punch to use on our patterns so they can be put on the hanger. Now that I’m home doing this stuff I need some good organizational tips for less space.


I actually do my drafting on the computer, so I don’t have a big need to store blocks permanently, and I don’t use oak tag anymore. I create the patterns digitally and then print them out as needed on my big plotter. Since they’re printed on regular wide format paper, I just roll them up to store them if I need to.

Back when I did use oak tag and did things more by hand, I punched a hole in each piece, strung them together, and hung them up on the wall.


Sarai – What software do you use for your pattern drafting? Do you recommend anything in particular for the home sewing enthusiast?


I use the eyelet punch (from a buttonhole cutting kit) to punch holes. It doesn’t have various sizes but it does work well.


ummm… great stocking stuffer!

Tasha @ Stale Bread into French Toast

I’d like one in my stocking! Especially after what the other Tasha said about holes in belts, I was just wondering if I could use it on felt as well . . . great ideas, thanks!


Great tip, thanks. Just wondering, though — how do you then mark the other side of the fabric when you have two pieces atop each other? I typically mark my pieces by inserting a pin all the way through both layers do I can lift the piece and mark the underside. I like your method but am just wondering what your next step typically is. Thanks!


After I’ve cut the fabric and marked the first side, I remove the paper pattern and place pins at each marking, pinning through both layers. I can then just flip the pieces over and mark them. To me, it’s much faster and less fiddly this way than pinning and then gently lifting the pattern.

I should do a walk through on my cutting process and ask you guys to share your own too!


This is amazing! I’ve just started sewing and tracing pattern markings is something I struggle with because I want to be as precise as I can without faffing about too much.
I’m going to order one right now! I hope they’re easy to find in the UK…


Great tip. I always wonder why people are so freaked out by the older unprinted patterns – I find them much easier to use! Already cut out to size and they have holes that makes chalk or tailors-tack markings much easier. Interesting that with this method you are going back to the holes…:-)


I agree, I like the unprinted patterns! The instructions on older patterns, on the other hand…


oh this is so helpful! not the screw punch, but the idea of cutting out holes in the pattern. i folded the circles in half and cut out a demi-circle. Much easier than before where i would fold the paper over and eyeball where the circle was. thank you!


You all were talking about storing patterns as (On Dec 10th, Sarai said: | | @saraicat) A great way to store the patterns is in a cardboard tube which can easily be found at a rug store, a fabric shop, a Boat Canvas Shop which is part of my many adventures, or just a upholstering company; all of our rolls of fabric or rugs come on the rolls and after awhile we need to recycle them out. They come in all different sizes. With using the tubes, you can mark on the outside to what the tube holds or/and you can use different color marks as I do to readily separate the different years or different group of contents.

The punch is a great handy tool to have! I have been sewing professionally since age 12 with branching out to different designing and sewing everything that I could get my hands on! I have used a punch for everything from patterns, tubing inserts, pre-set for hardware, and crafts.

Katharina McDermott

I like the multisized patterns for now as I have had a gastric Bypass operation in may and my weight and size constantly change.

With a multisize pattern I can draft my “current” size on the overlay of the tissue paper without in any way dammage the original pattern.

Right now it is all about making do and avoid using the fabrics I have earmarked for my final warderobe. I want to make a complete spring, summer, autumn and winter collection. It is the “carrot” I use to motivate me.

When my weight eventually stabelize I will bring out all the special saved fabrics in my stash and sew until I drop :-)

Susanne Wilson

This is a very informative piece about the tool, and how such a simple instrument can make marking patterns so FAST and easy. This method can be employed with just about any project, not just garment sewing.

Thank you! (I’ll be featuring this page at too).

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