Back To The Basics: Seams Part Two

We’re going to wrap up our basic seams talk with Pressing and Understitching today, two often overlooked details that can make a world of difference.

Grading:  Grading your seam allowance is easy!  When you are working with thick fabrics or have more than 2 layers going on, the seam allowance can get bulky.  Let’s reduce a good portion of that bulk by trimming each layer to a different width so when you turn and press, there isn’t that weird bump running along the seam.

Notching/Clipping:   With your fabric laid flat in front of you, determine if your curve is concave or convex.  This will change how you cut into your seam allowance so everything lays flat.

  • If your curve is concave (curls inward or makes a “cave” <- that’s how I remember it), you will want to CLIP the seam allowance.  You should clip every 1/2″ to 1″ (1.2-2.5cm), depending on just how curvy your seam is.  Remember!  Don’t clip past your seam allowance!
  • If your curve is convex (pushes out, not in; I have no cute way of remembering that except it DOESN’T make a cave), make NOTCHES in your seam allowance.  Your notches will resemble little triangles cut out of the seam allowance.  Again, spread them out or push your notches closer together, depending on just how curvy your curve is.


Understitching:  Understitching is my baby, my secret weapon, my favorite of almost all techniques around.  Understitching is simply pressing your seam allowance towards your lining piece and sewing it to the lining just next to the actual seam.  When your project is turned and pressed, everything wants to roll in ever so slightly towards the inside so your lining doesn’t peek out.  For a lot of my patterns, it eliminates the need to topstitch certain areas, making the finished dress or top or whatnot look much cleaner and more finished (because haven’t we all made a great bodice only to mess up the topstitching somehow?).

Understiching example
See how the seam allowance is pressed towards the darker blue fabric and then sewn down?



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