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Seam allowances on patterns?

Jaderaven | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Hello everyone,
I’m very new to sewing and have what is probably a really stupid question.

I have a McCall’s pattern (M5110). Regarding the seam allowance which is 5/8″, does this mean that after I cut out my size from the pattern that on the fabric I add another 5/8″ to the edges and then cut? Or does it mean that I cut out my size and then measure in 5/8″ and that’s where the seam allowance is?

I’d appreciate any help in regards to this – I’ve used the search feature, but apparently this is common knowledge to all but me.



  1. SewFit | | #1

    Welcome to the world of sewing!  No question is ever stupid....ask away...there is a wealth of knowledge from years of experience to be had in these forums. 

    Regarding your seam allowance-in McCall's patterns, your 5/8" seam allowance is included.  This means that you cut out on your size and the seam line will be 5/8" inside the cut edge.   Since you are new to sewing, please make sure you check your measurements against the pattern and fit the tissue before cutting your fashion fabric.   Make sure the yoke area on the pattern (M5110) will fit in the hip area.   New sewers can become quickly discouraged if by cutting and sewing too quickly, only to find that the garment is not large enough.   This is a very cute pattern and should make a beautiful soft summery skirt.

    Happy Sewing!


    1. Jaderaven | | #6

      Thank you all so much! I've been reading the boards and gathering up info - it's been enlightening and you all seem really nice!~K

  2. Ralphetta | | #2

    That's a good question to ask.  Most American patterns include the seam allowance.  If you look at your pattern pieces you will see a broken line to represent where you stitch, usually 5/8 inside the edge of the pattern pieces.  (Every once in a while it will be different than 5/8.) 

    It seems to me that when I don't know much about a subject it can be really hard to know what to ask. Feel free to ask questions and the people on this site are, (like the previous writer,) good about giving you additional info they think might help you.

    1. HelgaPataki | | #11

      McCall patterns broken lines

      I think you meant to saye. that the various broken lines represent the sizes, and you cut along the line that corresponds to you size.  the pattern for McCalls do include the sewing allowing of 5/8 inches which means you sew in from that cut edge 5/8 away from the cut edge.  Sorry for interrupting, but I read your instructions with a double meaning. 

  3. fabricholic | | #3

    Welcome Jaderaven. May I add that not all patterns are this way, but the big four, McCalls, Vogue, Simplicity and Butterick do have 5/8" seam allowances already included. Some other pattern companies do not and you have to add this before you cut. Have fun sewing.


  4. User avater
    Becky-book | | #4

    Good replies so far...

    Since you said "after I cut out my size"  I'll assume it is a multi-sized pattern, it has several cutting lines and NO printed seam lines.  I sew for 3 very different sized daughters and self and grandkids (who grow) so I NEVER cut the original pattern (white tissue paper is cheap). I make a copy and label which size I used, then if I goofed, or someone else wants one too, I still have the pattern!


    1. Jaderaven | | #5

      That's a really good idea. Thanks so much. :)

  5. solosmocker | | #7

    Jaderaven, welcome to the sewing world! You are among good friends here so ask away!

    Before you start take a tape measure or ruler and line up the starting line with your needle. Look over to your right and see where 5/8 is on the ruler. It is usually the mark after the half inch mark. Once you find the 5/8 mark, look at the machine to right of the needle. There is probably a mark on your machine that lines right up with this to indicate the 5/8 measurement. Now that you know where it is on the machine, line up the cut edges of your fabric pieces with this 5/8 mark as you sew. This will give you the accurate seamline. You want to keep your eye on that edge, not on where the needle is going. You will be more accurate that way. Do some practice pieces before you actually start sewing on your garment. Read your pattern directions carefully. Its rare, but every once in a blue moon, the pattern will have you use a different measurement for a seam or two, usually the neckline or collar.

    You have gotten some good advice in regards to measuring. Good luck and let us know if we can help some more.

  6. Pattiann42 | | #8

    Welcome to the forum!

    Re: Simplicity, McCalls, Vogue and Butterick......Inside your pattern envelope are the instruction pages.  Page one will have the layouts and General Directions.  This is where it reads...Seam allowance: 5/8" (1.5 cm) unless otherwise stated is included but not printed on multi-size patterns.

    Single size patterns will have a solid line for cutting and a broken line representing the seam line.

    Read over the instructions and note anywhere the seam allowance is not 5/8".

    It's been awhile since I used Burda, but I do remember having to add the seam allowances to the pattern before I cut it out.  It was a great pattern, but not because I had to add the seam allowances....didn't care for that added chore.

  7. Teaf5 | | #9

    Lots of good advice so far...here's another tip: After you cut out your fabric, mark the seam lines with chalk (either tailor's chalk or regular chalkboard chalk will work) on the wrong side of each piece before you start stitching it.

    While you can use the 5/8" mark on the sewing machine plate as a guide, it's easier for beginners to stitch along a chalked line at first. Plus, by marking the wrong sides with chalk, you'll always know which sides to have facing outward while you sew--another important challenge for learners.

  8. jkravenarts | | #10

    I have sewn for many years and the patterns in the past, in my opinion, were so much easier to read and the directions were very detailed. Not so much any more.

    I recently picked up a McCalls pattern for a dress for my granddaughter. There was so seam allowances printed on the tissue pattern pieces. So I wondered the same question you had, do I add 5/8 inch to the fabric or was it included.

    thank you,


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