Tracing Wheel

Example of a tracing wheel. Example of a tracing wheel.

A tracing wheel is a needlework tool consisting of a wooden handle, with a shaped shaft (often of steel or, by the end of the twentieth century, made of plastic). At the end of the shaft is a rowel. A rowel is a metal disc with a series of sharp radial points and capable of rotation.

The word rowel is Middle English and derives from Old French roel, roele, meaning a wheel. One of the most famous types of rowels are spurs worn by horse riders (especially associated with American cowboys).

Tracing wheels were and still are used to transfer designs by producing a series of marks on some types of cloth. The outline of a design is usually drawn on thin cloth, tissue or tracing paper and then the rowel is run along the outline. The radial points of the rowel create a series of small holes into the cloth below. These holes are then connected with a pencil line or by painting a fine line.

Also known as: dart wheel, pattern wheel, or pounce wheel.

Source: Shorter Oxford English Dictionary: 'Rowel'.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 8th July 2016).


Last modified on Saturday, 13 May 2017 17:30
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