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seam allowances

Cranbrook | Posted in Patterns on

I’m new to sewing and want to know why seam allowances are printed on the pattern


  1. damascusannie | | #1

    I think just to remind you how wide you are supposed to make them. (Usually 5/8")

  2. joanfitzu | | #2

    seam allowances can be different on the same pattern piece, some people don't read the pattern instruction sheet and it might be on the sheet that a seam should be sewn using a specific allowance. side seam pockets are a good example, or the front zipper closing on a pants pattern, not always the same throughout the construction of a garment or anything else you sew. toys can have 1/4" seams.

  3. starzoe | | #3

    Am not quite sure how basic the question is: you need a seam allowance, you cannot cut on the stitching line, the garment will be too tight and the fit will be off as well. You can alter the seam allowance to be any depth you want 5/8" (1.5cm) is the norm. Some parts of the pattern may have more or less S/A so it is imperative to read the whole pattern through before beginning.A S/A allows you to make some minor changes in the fit of the garment. If you are really tentative about the final fit and have not made a muslin or done pinfitting, make your seam allowances larger but do keep track of what you have done, either on the pattern or elsewhere.All of the commercial pattern books (the biggies, Vogue, Butterick, Simplicity) usually have 5/8". Some of the others from individual designers may or may not follow the norm. Burda used to NOT have seam allowances on their patterns but the new ones do have seam allowance added, except for the Burda Magazine ones where you have to add your own.So, the answer to your question is not as simple as it seems!

  4. Palady | | #4

    As a sort of flashback, I learned to sew when "printed patterns" had yet to make it on the scene.  The tissue was without any marks of any sort.  Darts, straight of grain, and matching of pieces were all done with punched out circles.  In varying sizes.

    Literally, holes in the pattern piece.  However, there were sometimes "holes" because of a whatever in the making of the tissue.  All of which means, the sewer had to study the pieces and understand what was supposed to marked.  By-the-by, I have some of these early patterns once belonging to my mother.

    When printed patterns became the vogue, things like seam allowances were included.  The caveat was, as was posted, these varied from 5/8" to 1/4" depending on what was being made.  

    It was advertised, these patterns would be more helpful for the home sewer.   And quite frankly, the sewing machine manufacturers, the fabric producers, and the sewing notions comapny's are first & foremost -  Entrepreneurs!

    As I became more experienced in sewing, and with my mother's tutelage, I realized it was possible to fudge the 5/8" when putting together a fashion.  At the time my mother was working in the garment industry the standard was 1/2".

    I doubt the big 4 will ever eliminate seam allowances, or other printings on their patterns, but who's to say really.


    1. [email protected] | | #5

      They have reduced the information printed on the pattern to accommodate the multi-sized patterns. I remember single size patterns with all seams fully printed but that was too confusing. There were also separate pattern pieces included in most patterns for linings, upper collars. I'm not sure that simplification improved sewing.

      1. Ocrafty1 | | #7

        I remember those too. I have a collection of patterns that go back to the 30's.  The instructions were very clear for McCalls and Simplicity; they included where to do pad stitching, suggested prick stitch for zippers.  Those were the days when quality sewing was what was expected.  Today many of the younger sewers want to get it done quickly and with as many shortcuts as possible...like the 'Make it today, wear it tonight' patterns.  No structure, just throw it together.  That's one of the things I love about the Vogue patterns that I've used.  I really like that they tell the sewing level that is necessary for the garment...beginner, intermediate, experienced. 


    2. miatamomma | | #6

      I still have one pattern without any markings like the ones you mentioned. I saw it in a newspaper and ordered it.  This would have been in the 60s.  It is basically a princess style with a low back, nipped-in waist and deep pleats all around except in the very front.  My body can't handle those pleats anymore.  I still have one dress I made from the pattern but it hangs in the back of my closet with no hope of ever zipping again but I loved it.


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