When are seams required for a cut

N for seam allowance

Included, not included, how much or how little - the seam allowance is a mystery for many seamstresses, especially at the beginning. We clarify what you need this little extra substance for, how much of it you need and how you can best transfer it to your substance!

What is this seam allowance actually?

The seam allowance is an area of ​​fabric, like a fullness, that you add to your pattern, thus ensuring that your seam does not have to lie directly on the edge of the fabric. Take a look at one of your clothes: on the inside you can see the left side of the seams. With jersey shirts it is mostly overlock seams that look like long, narrow rolls. In woven goods, the seam allowances look like two strips of fabric, which are usually neatly ironed apart. Your seam lies in between. The seam allowance runs like a thin strip around your pattern piece - and around every pattern piece of a project.

Do I have to add the seam allowance myself or is it already included in the pattern?

Unfortunately, there is no consensus here. Some designers add a seam allowance directly to their cuts, others leave it out so that the brave little tailor has to take care of it himself. In the end, it doesn't matter whether the seam allowance was added by the designer or by you - it has to be there anyway. Many designers add a note about the seam allowance directly on their pattern pieces and inform whether and how much seam allowance is included. For example, if you see the note “0.7 cm seam allowance in the pattern”, you know that you can cut your pattern piece directly along the edge of the paper pattern and later have to sew with the seam allowance of 0.7 cm. If the seam allowance is not included, you have to add it yourself before cutting your pattern pieces. You can always write this information directly on the pattern: cut type, designer, cut size and whether and how much seam allowance is included.

How do you add the seam allowance yourself?

Adding is a breeze. In the video you can see how Bettina does it. With the help of a set square or hand measure and marking tool. You place your pattern on your fabric, pin it or weigh it down with weights so that it doesn't slip. Then you go around the edges with your tools and draw a parallel to the edge of the paper. Set square or patchwork rulers are particularly good for this work on straight stretches; on curves you can work wonderfully with a hand measure and set many small markings that you finally connect with your hand.

How wide is my seam allowance?

That is the question of all questions! If the seam allowance is included in the pattern, the designer will surely give you an exact number on the pattern sheet or in the instructions. If you haven't discovered this by reading your ebook for the third time, Bettina has a little tip for you: Open your instructions on your PC in a standard PDF reader or in your browser and then press the "Ctrl" and "f" keys on your keyboard ”- somewhere on your screen a small text field will open in which you can enter a search term. If you now search for “seam allowance” or the abbreviation “NZ”, all matching words will be marked and displayed in the ebook. So you have quickly found what you are looking for! If you are using analogue, it is worth taking a look at the beginning or end of the book or magazine. There you will often find some general information and explanations. Usually there is also a note about seam allowances.

So if your seam allowance is included and specified in the pattern, you sew the way the designer intended and made it, of course. If you have the free choice to add your seam allowance, you can decide for yourself how much space you need and how you mark it. Common seam allowances are between 0.7 cm and 2.5 cm. That differs according to materials, projects and also personal preferences. The common width of an overlock seam is, for example, 0.7 cm, so you will surely find many jersey patterns with this information. With many woven goods that are sewn on household machines and where the seam allowances are ironed apart in the course of sewing, it is then rather the whole centimeter or more. So you can freely choose what suits you best. It is only important that you stick to this number consistently when sewing.

The wider you choose your seam allowance, the more leeway you keep free to make any corrections. A seam with a 2 cm wide seam allowance can simply be turned a little bit further after the first fitting, so that there is a little more width.

Draw your seam allowance uniformly!

And also when marking it makes sense to be consistent. So you usually only select one width of the seam allowance for a pattern. So you can concentrate fully on sewing and don't have to look up from edge to edge which seam allowance you have chosen. It is different with hems. The width can be a little different every now and then. This is usually stated in the instructions and pattern. Here you proceed very similarly to the seam allowance, only a little wider.

Does a seam allowance have to be drawn everywhere?

No, you can't always just draw around a pattern. The seam allowance is only needed where there is a seam. In the break, for example, you don't need a seam allowance. The edge of the pattern lies on the broken fabric. Here no width is lost through a seam, so you don't have to add a seam allowance. It is the same with darts, where exactly the lines drawn in the pattern are sewn.

How do you consistently adhere to the seam allowance when sewing?

Your sewing machine offers you one or the other tool here. For example, you have the auxiliary lines on the needle plate that can guide you. Optionally, you can also draw your own guide lines or simply stick them with a colorful tape. You then lead your fabric edge along it. In addition, your presser foot is a good helper. If you know how wide it is, from the point of insertion of the needle to the outer edge, you can, for example, mark exactly this seam allowance. Likewise with the overlock - there the seam width is usually 0.7 cm and you can't go wrong! Hence this somewhat strange 0.7 cm as a common seam allowance.