Lets talk more about these seam allowances! Seam allowances are needed because we can’t stitch on the very edge of the fabric. There needs to be space between the seam line, and the edge of the fabric pieces we are sewing together. Seam allowances range from 1/4″ and up. You always need to check your pattern for the seam allowance included. It is important to sew with exactly that seam allowance or your pieces may not line up correctly. Once you know what seam allowance your pattern includes, you can use one of the methods we talked about yesterday to stitch leaving a seam allowance.
I have a seam allowance, now what do I do with it?
Once you stitch your seam line, you have your seam allowance just hanging out. If you are sewing with knits, you may choose to forgo doing anything further with the allowance. Knits don’t fray (with the exception of a few), so finishing isn’t a must. I do like to finish my seams when sewing with knits because I have a serger, and it just looks more professional. However, you will need to finish you seams when sewing with woven, or knits that do fray (sweater knit, french terry, etc). There are a few different ways you can finish your seams. A serger is my first choice. It cuts and finishes the edges so they won’t ravel and fray. It is fast and very professional looking. If you don’t have a serger, you can do a zig zag stitch then trim very close to the stitching. You may also cut your seam allowances with pinking shears. Whenever you are trimming the allowance make sure you don’t cut into your stitching.
Not all seam allowances need finished:
For example, seams that don’t show, like when you are sewing a bag lining, or sewing a lining in your clothes don’t need to be finished. If the seam is not going to show at all, there isn’t really a need to finish it if you don’t want to.
Seam allowances and curves or points:
Sometimes when you sew around curves you may need to clip the curves so the seam lays nice. To do this you will make tiny cuts perpendicular to the seam line, without cutting into the stitching, around the curve. This will let tension off the curve and help the curve to lay nicely. You may also need to clip the seam allowance at a point to again, help it to lay nice.
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