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I love sewing and i love making my own patterns, however with any good design a seam allowance is needed, I’m on the hunt for an easy and covenant, somewhat “fast” way to add them to a sewing project. I saw a device here in the website that seems promising and i am considering it, but is there an easier way?

What is your favorite easy method to adding seam allowances to a project? Any suggestions wil help :)


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  • 121bcd6a71a_avatar_large

    Jul 31, 2012, 06.32 PMby harrietbazley

    I usually just put the pattern pieces on the cloth, mark around the outsides for the seam line, then cut out freehand; in fact, when I recently had to use a pattern with seam allowances included, I had to carefully mark all round to take the allowance off before I could use it!

    Are you hoping to offer your patterns commercially?

    1 Reply
    • Nationalanthemmaxtwitter_large

      Aug 1, 2012, 05.26 AMby Max Hernandez

      Not commercially, just for production of a couple of sizes, but you are saying you cut out the seam allowance spaces by eye balling it?

  • Img_2374_-_copy_-_copy_large

    Jul 31, 2012, 11.26 PMby Linda74Sews

    The easiest way I know how to add seam allowances is to use the width of a measuring tape. Most (not all so measure) measuring tapes are 5/8" in width, so using the metal end of the tape I go around the pattern and in 1-2" increments, mark the position for the seam allowance. Its a bit time consuming but it works well and is very easy.

    1 Reply
    • Nationalanthemmaxtwitter_large

      Aug 1, 2012, 05.28 AMby Max Hernandez

      yeah which is how i usually do it, instead i use a clear plastic ruler , mark the space ( i use 1/2" seam allowances) and then pivot as i mark along, that usually gives me the accurate way.

  • 4343a36d4466c6f353525bdc97ba571be3128723_large

    Aug 1, 2012, 12.43 AMby thecuriouskiwi

    You can buy these pencils that are joined together with a rubber spacer, it holds the points at 5/8" apart and you basically just trace with one pencil against the edge of the pattern, the second pencil then traces the 5/8" line. I made my own by banding two pencils with an eraser in between, I just have to undo them when I need to re-sharpen each pencil ;) Here is a picture from a blog that I follow of something similar: http://cyberdaze.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/p1000154.jpg and here’s another:http://adelaidelemonade.typepad.com/.a/6a0120a5810240970c0167610b9920970b-500wi

    2 Replies
    • Nationalanthemmaxtwitter_large

      Aug 1, 2012, 05.29 AMby Max Hernandez

      This is actually a great idea i never thought about this at all, i’ve also seen a sort of double tracing wheel, i wonder if that would work just as fine.

    • Missing

      May 22, 2018, 08.12 PMby grammachristina

      You get the genius award!!! Thank you so much. A divinely sweet and inexpensive solution. The double wheel on Amazon was 15.00
      Thank you!

  • Nationalanthemmaxtwitter_large

    Aug 1, 2012, 05.31 AMby Max Hernandez

    My usual method of this is placing the seam allowance free pattern in the fabric and pencil/chalk tracing around it, then placing a clear ruler marking my desire allowance , and pivoting the ruler as i mark, HOWEVER I find this method to be time consuming specially in complex patterns. i would love to know what all of you like to use or , what the industry pro’s use for an easier way.

  • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

    Aug 1, 2012, 08.58 AMby katexxxxxx

    If you get enough practice, yes eyeballing a standard commercial pattern 15mm/5/8" seam allowance gets reasonably easy, just like laying the pattern on the straight grain.

    Manufactured garments are not usually hand cut these days. Most cutting systems have the different sizes and seam allowances programmed in and then just laser guide the cuts with a thing like a band saw. You layer up the fabric up to about 10" deep (that could be as many as 200 layers!) and set it going, and it’s all done by robots and computers. Adding a seam allowance isn’t an issue when you design the pattern on the computer, add in whatever seam allowance you require, and send the whole lot off to the cutting computer.

    Short run stuff tends to be layered up and weighted, the pattern with seam allowance placed on top and chalked round, and then it’s cut with a motorized rotary cutter. You can usually cut up to 20 layers like this, I understand.

    Garment manufacturing isn’t something I want to get into, particularly, so I haven’t looked into it for a few years. What I know is limited to what I picked up while exploring computer programs for drafting patterns.

    Couture garments tend to be cut totally by eye (no pattern even!), or from a pattern without seam allowances. The cutters are skilled enough that they can cut whatever width of seam allowance the designer wants. All they do is lay up and cut out garments. Seam allowances in couture work are usually wider than those on commercial patterns so there is greater allowance for alteration and individual fitting. Everything is fitted on the toile, which is then disassembled and used as the pattern if one is required. Processes are worked out to be the most ergonomic for the assembly team, rather than for speed. Accuracy is the name of the game there! This is the way we work. We also often draft a paper pattern of the final garment with all alterations, in case we want to use it again or use it as a base for another garment later. We add a seam allowance to the final pattern if that is deemed appropriate.

  • 121bcd6a71a_avatar_large

    Aug 2, 2012, 01.30 AMby harrietbazley

    Yes, by eyeballing it. I generally try to leave a fairly generous seam allowance because I will be using some or all of it for seam finishes later on.

    I align the seam lines (by eye/touch→pin→tacking) not the edges of the fabric, so it doesn’t matter if they’re not absolutely even all the way round. My cutting isn’t that accurate!

    1 Reply
    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      Aug 2, 2012, 08.19 AMby katexxxxxx

      Cutting gets accurate with practice, but it’s the seam line that REALLY matters. If you are sewing something where the seam line is critical, mark it before you remove the patten.

      This is why I like seam allowance free patterns. You lay them out, it’s easy to mark the seam line, then you can cut it where you like depending on fabric type and how you want to fit the garment.

  • Logo4957b_large

    Aug 19, 2012, 04.52 AMby jenss-1

    In general, I’m more concerned about marking the seam line, and so I don’t worry too much about the accuracy of the width of the seam allowance (except for tricky areas). With tissue patterns I sometimes use a Clover double tracing wheel with carbon paper between the pattern and the fabric. The double tracing wheel can be a hassle sometimes and doesn’t always mark evenly. I sometimes have to go back and remark the seamlines. With knits I often just eyeball the seam allowance since it is smaller. As kate mentioned, it’s the seam line that’s important. So if the seam line is marked accurately you don’t need to rely on the seam allowance width to sew in the proper place. (However, I have ocassionally made my own template-like patterns with the seam allowances built in. In that case, I just trace around it with a chalk pencil and do not mark the seam line). Depends on each project, I guess…

    1 Reply
    • 2012-04-02_15_00_35_large

      Aug 25, 2012, 04.53 AMby Lindsay Whitehead

      I agree that it is the seam line that matters. But if one is cutting a piece out of a double fabric layer how do you mark the seam line on the bottom layer. Also even if the seam line is marked on pieces that are sewn together it becomes hard to match the seam lines when sewing if they are too different.

  • 2012-04-02_15_00_35_large

    Aug 25, 2012, 04.47 AMby Lindsay Whitehead

    Max : but you are saying you cut out the seam allowance spaces by eye balling it?

    Yes. I do. unless I need to be very accurate for some reason. But it gets more accurate the more you do it.

  • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

    Aug 25, 2012, 01.31 PMby katexxxxxx

    Lindsey, use a tracing wheel and dressmakers carbon/tracing paper between the layers. You get the seamline marked as a row of dots on both sections of fabric if you fold the paper in half with the carbon outside… This presupposes that the seamline is marked on the pattern, or you have drafted it without seam allowances.

    If seamline A is to fit with seamline B on another piece of fabric, it will fit if you have traced the seamline accurately, unless there is a fault in the drafting… If you suspect a fault, check to see how much ease is added first. You may need to use some ease, or gather, tuck, or pleat the bits to fit if that is the style.

    1 Reply
    • 2012-04-02_15_00_35_large

      Sep 4, 2012, 10.37 AMby Lindsay Whitehead

      Thanks for the advice. I’ve been meaning to try carbon paper. If the carbon paper is on the inside (in between the layers) and I trace it that means I would have to open the fabric out to cut it right? This is why I haven’t tried it, because it leads to the problem I was talking about.

      What I meant was not that the seam line was a different length but one SA may be 1.5 cm and the other 2cm or variations on the one SA. SO I can’t line up the edge of the fabric to sew.

      I’ll just have to experiment I suppose. Anything would be better than tailors tacks etc.

  • 121bcd6a71a_avatar_large

    Sep 4, 2012, 02.39 AMby harrietbazley

    I use tailor’s tacks on a double layer of fabric, usually. But they do have a tendency to drop out before the garment is finished, so nowadays I tend to thread-mark the seam line over the top of this with running stitch after separating the layers. The worst thing about this is getting the marking thread out afterwards – but it doesn’t drop out, doesn’t wear off, doesn’t stain the fabric and can be aligned by touch when you are trying to match seam lines. Oh, and it shows up on patterned fabrics nicely :-)

    Matching seam lines with uneven seam allowances – I don’t match them when sewing, I tack them up first. Slowly!

    2 Replies
    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      Sep 4, 2012, 08.36 AMby katexxxxxx

      All good, old fashioned, COUTURE methods. :) And yes, on occasion I also do all of this.

    • 2012-04-02_15_00_35_large

      Sep 4, 2012, 10.54 AMby Lindsay Whitehead

      I do find tailors tacks to be good, just slow and painful. Maybe it’s just practice.

      Do you mark all your seam lines? Wow. That would be patience.

      I had a bad experience with thread staining my fabric once. But it was cream fabric.

      Any seam I ever tack a seam it is one I concentrate on anyway so I make sure It’s perfect and I’d make sure the seam allowances are accurate.

  • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

    Sep 4, 2012, 12.25 PMby katexxxxxx

    For all basting we use a soft two-ply natural undyed fine silk thread. This has the advantage of not staining fabric, it’s easy to break when you need to, but holds well when you don’t, and it leaves very little indent if you press over it. It also leaves almost no holes in silk fabric.

    If you mark and baste/tack a seam, you have no need to worry about the width or accuracy of the seam allowance. Having one 2.5cm and one 1.5 or less is no problem because it is ALWAYS the seam line you need to line up, never the cut edges.

    2 Replies
    • Missing

      Jan 27, 2013, 08.33 AMby Shannonfax

      How can you cut out the piece if your seam allowance isn’t accurate?

    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      Jan 27, 2013, 09.51 AMby katexxxxxx

      Seam ALLOWANCE is really irrelevant. What matters is knowing where the seam line – along which you sew – is. You cut that where you like! It can be three inches wide, or just an eighth of an inch, depending on what the articles needs and you deem appropriate. So long as you know where to sew, the edge of the fabric can be anywhere. CONVENTION says 5/8" on commercial patterns, and many machines have this marked on the stitch plate, so if you line the edges up where the mark is, you can sew the seam about 5/8" from the edge of the fabric. BUT, unless you are cutting with a laser guided cutter, you are never going to be exactly acurate anyway. Better, where it really matters, to mark your seam line and follow that.

  • 2012-04-02_15_00_35_large

    Sep 5, 2012, 10.42 AMby Lindsay Whitehead

    Thanks. I’ve started doing most of my hand sewing in silk thread, it sews so easily. But it’s expensive so I only have black and white so far.

    I understand the concept of matching seam lines, I’m just saying its hard, even with seam lines marked to match them accurately with different cut seam allowances. But I suppose marked in thread, and hence on both sides of the fabric makes this easier. Just way more time consuming.

    1 Reply
    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      Sep 5, 2012, 04.09 PMby katexxxxxx

      Yup! But that is one reason why really nice bespoke clothing is expensive! :D

  • 121bcd6a71a_avatar_large

    Sep 8, 2012, 03.10 AMby harrietbazley

    It really is WAY easier having your markings automatically appearing on both sides of the fabric!

    (Which is the main reason why I do it that way, not being a terribly good sewer: the other reason being that I learnt most of my sewing out of a book that pre-dated carbon paper etc. and thus tended to recommend techniques that rely on ‘couture’ practices to work….)

    1 Reply
    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      Sep 8, 2012, 08.29 AMby katexxxxxx

      Well, couture methods WORK… But they ain’t always the quickest or the easiest! And when you are in a hurry – ! Cote Hardie in a day, Doublet in two days (TWO doublets in three days here!), Snow Queen and Ice Queen, Two Queen’s Guards, and 3 pairs of adult fairy wings that light up in six weeks – when at least one of those weeks is already booked for Other Things… Well, sometimes you just have to find a quicker way! :D

  • 2012-04-02_15_00_35_large

    Sep 8, 2012, 09.57 AMby Lindsay Whitehead

    lol, yes, costumes. My fair lady for a cast of 64 in 2 months. Fun but I was walking like a arthritic granny by opening night. No time for marking except notches on complex patterns. I’ll have to read your profile Kate, I love costume.

    1 Reply
    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      Sep 8, 2012, 01.19 PMby katexxxxxx

      Our stuff is for LARP, so it has to work as clothes as well as looking good from 3"! And it has to be TOUGH! You do NOT want your pocket depositing your piratical pistol on your toes half way across a field of Undead at midnight…

      Do have a look in my studio for some of the fun stuff we make as well as the Proper Clothes and wedding things!

  • Prhfw-seot-2012-387_large

    Sep 9, 2012, 01.02 PMby ladymacbeth86

    There is a transparent grid ruler you can use to add seam allowances. You can search for it on Google, I’m sure you can find one on eBay!

  • Me_large

    Sep 10, 2012, 07.15 PMby tamlagirl

    I made my own little gismo by using a piece of my son’s Geomag (its like a plastic covered 2cm long magnet), I attach it to the side of my scissors (having already marked off my seam allowance on the geomag) and then cut (on the left-hand side – using right handed scissors) making sure the seam allowance mark follows the pattern edge. I had seen on Burdastyle that you can buy a proper dressmaking tool along these lines, but I wanted to make/bdoge my own version.

    1 Reply
    • Nationalanthemmaxtwitter_large

      Sep 11, 2012, 10.37 PMby Max Hernandez

      thats not a bad idea, i have seen a device similar to what you say , but it costs, perhaps it wouldn’t be bad to make such investment.

  • Roni_large

    Apr 19, 2013, 05.43 PMby ofec

    I tape together two pens using sellotape (scotch tape), one blue and one black. The distance between their tips is exactly 3/8" which is what I usually like for my own patterns. I then trace my pattern with the blue tip around the lines and get automatically the 3/8" allowance in black.

  • Missing

    Apr 20, 2013, 01.08 AMby jnjewel

    I use rotary cutter with a guide. The guide is like the quilting guide you attach on the sewing machine foot. I think it’s the easiest and fastest. Olfa sells it, I think. This way, I can change the seam allowance as I like. When I sew knit fabric especially, I don’t mark seam line, I just match the cut edge to sew. When I use plaids and patterns I want to match, I use thead basing method or use chalk paper with tracing wheels addition to the rotary cutting with guide. I’m Japanese, and usually Japanese patterns are on a magazine, and you have to draw according to the instruction based on your block pattern. Thus, no seam allowance. I think it’s easier to manipulate and adjust the patterns when you don’t have seam allowance built in. Sometimes I’m annoyed with the commercial patterns when I try to measure and adjust to fit me perfectly.

  • Burdaprofile_large

    Jun 13, 2013, 01.59 AMby ctharp

    Another way is with my curved rulers…They surprised me with how more accurate my patterns were when I used them than with those other methods mentioned. I was tickled, I found a way to get them made. I am just a nurse who likes to sew.


  • Missing

    Feb 28, 2014, 09.58 PMby Kirsten Gould

    I went to design school (FIDM) Using a clear ruler with curved rulers is how the pros do it. I think it is very annoying when commercial patterns don’t have seam allowance!

    1 Reply
    • 2013-11-28_10_32_23_large

      Jan 4, 2015, 01.51 PMby PennyMac

      I’ve just made a dress from an old Burda pattern which included seam allowances. I had to some altertions (FBA) and other alterations were needed the make the style more ‘vinatage’. Having seam allowances included on the pattern made the process much harder; they are confusing when you are repositioning seams etc. I think that’s why Burda (in particular) don’t usually include them.

  • Missing

    Sep 13, 2015, 07.24 AMby Christine Johnstone

    Upholstery suggested I draw around the pattern with chalk or pen and then cut out wider – sew on the drawn line and all correct size – I do his now and it works and so simple

  • Missing

    Oct 26, 2015, 06.38 AMby christymae

    The easiest way is to buy patterns from companies that include a seam allowance. I’ve never understood those that don’t.

  • Curr_culum-02_large

    Mar 2, 2018, 07.42 PMby Isidora Flores

    Instead of buying something specifically fot ir you could just use a geometry compass set to a specific width. I read this post a while ago and was just looking at a drafting tutorial where they do it that way. Instantly remembered the post =) https://mellysews.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/pajamadrafting06.jpg

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