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An Alternative to Clipping Seam Allowances

Trimming the allowances reduces bulk and understitching keeps the lining in place
Threads #189, Feb./March 2017

Evamarie Gomez and Carol Fresia; Videographer: Jeff Roos

To make a smooth seam along a curved edge such as a neckline or armhole, you need to control the seam allowances. To learn how to keep them flat without compromising the curve, watch this video extra from Threads #189 (Feb./March 2017). This method is an alternative to clipping seam allowances.

Alternative to clipping a seam: Click to watch more videos

The tutorial walks through the process of trimming the seam allowances and then understitching. The narrow but unclipped seam allowance maintains the curved shape. Meanwhile, the understitching keeps the lining or facing from showing on the garment’s right side.

Read a detailed explanation of this alternative to clipping seam allowances in “Essential Techniques: Skip Clipping” by Martyn Smith, a tailor and teacher based in Queensland, Australia, who has extensive experience sewing garments and embroidering by machine.

If you prefer to clip . . .

If you would rather use the tried-and-true way of reducing seam allowance bulk, check out several Threads videos that further explain and demonstrate the process.

“Clipping and Trimming Seams”

“Clipping Corners Properly”

“How to Clip Curves Accurately”

There’s also the option to use pinking shears for reducing seam allowance bulk:
“A Shortuct for Clipping Seam Allowances”

Threads Essential Techniques videos

Every issue of Threads features techniques perfect for any skill level. To help grow your sewing talents, we’ve created a series of web-only videos that bring to life some of the most essential techniques seen in our print magazine.

In this video series, you’ll find an array of techniques we find important for cultivating a well-rounded set of sewing skills. No matter what your proficiency level, you’ll find something that’s just right for you.

Don’t miss other techniques by subscribing to Threads today.

Click to watch more Threads Essential Techniques videos


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  1. user-6108568 | | #1

    i know the answer it to understitch on bias necklines... but this is brilliant. thanks.

  2. User avater
    yourwildestseams | | #2

    Have been secretly doing this for years - now I don't feel so guilty about it! A very helpful technique for corsetry and lingerie work. Thanks again!

  3. firstsnow | | #3

    Very helpful tutorial. I will use this instead of clipping.

  4. user-6236038 | | #4

    YES! Of course this is best

  5. flatCAD | | #5

    Beautiful! I have never been a fan of clipping and leaving all that bulk inside. One additional tip I might suggest is to reduce the stitch length and leave only 1/8 inch seam allowance; it works fine even with stiff/dense fabrics.

  6. user-2042411 | | #6

    Do you first clip and then understitch, or the other way around?

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