Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

Very basic seam allowance question

Jenster | Posted in Patterns on

Hi all,

I have a *very* basic question about seam allowances. I am using a Neue Mode pattern for the first time and it says that the seam and hem allowances are not included in the pattern; they must be added.

My question is this: how do you add a 5/8″ seam allowance? The pattern directions seem to suggest that one simply cuts the fabric wider than the pattern piece. But that makes this perfectionist’s brain rebel. How can you make sure your cuts are exactly 5/8″ that way? I was thinking it might be better to use a hem gauge and retrace the pattern onto surgical paper, adding the 5/8″ allowance and then cutting the paper piece out and using it to cut the fabric. But is there a better, easier way?

Thanks in advance!


  1. fabricholic | | #1

    There used to be a tracing wheel that actually had two wheels so that you could add that seam allowance. I think some people mark the actual seam and they don't worry so much about the allowance. I imagine there is several ways to do this.

    1. Jenster | | #4

      Thanks, fabricholic! :)

  2. SewNancy | | #2

    there are a number of ways to do this. First, use a double tracing wheel and tracing paper, second, just measure and chalk it in and mark the seam line itself, one of the nice things about no sas, and the last, my favorite, is to use a rotary cutter with a seam guide attached. It is available, but not very common. Nancy's Notions has carried it. It is for an Olfa cutter. I like to add extra on the side seams, ie 1 1/4" and I snip mark the top of the seam line to help me remember what I cut. I use smaller, 3/8" on enclosed seams, like cf in a faced jacket or blouse and collars and neckline edges. I use the 5/8" at any seam I wouldn't enlarge such as cb. Again, snip marking to clue me in to what I used. I sew with BWOF a lot and have come to really enjoy no sas.

    Edited 7/18/2007 2:18 pm ET by SewNancy

    1. Jenster | | #3

      Thank you so much! Here I've been wondering what the point is of marking the stitch line instead of the sa and now it's clear to me. :)I'm just cutting sleeves from the NM pattern to make the cardiwrap in the May Threads issue. But I will save your advice re the different types of seams for future use. Thanks again!

  3. Teaf5 | | #5

    If you haven't cut the tissue yet, you can use your cloth or vinyl tape measure to draw in the 5/8" cutting lines--yep, they're exactly 5/8" wide!

    If you have cut the tissue already, after you pin it to the fabric, you can use lengths of 1/2" or 5/8" cello tape (cheap gift wrap tape) around the outside to guide your cutting.  With a straight pair of shears, you don't need an unbroken line of tape, just enough to give your eye an idea of how far away from the seam line the blades need to be.

  4. tmorris1 | | #6


    You could also multiply 5/8" by the number of seams on your pattern, add this number to your measurements, and cut on a larger pattern size that matches the adjusted measurements. Just make sure to add the seam allowance to your neckline, and sleeve caps, which would not be changed by sizing the pattern up.


    1. sewanista | | #7

      As a professional patternmaker, I add lots of seam allowances. I also use Burda WOF for my non-work stuff. To speed things up, I made a guide from clear plastic. I used the window from a toy doll's carton, because I'd rather re-use something than buy new, but I think template plastic or similar would work. I traced around my favourite French curve,cut it very smoothly, and used a fine permanent pen to add a seam allowance amount parallel to the edge. I made two, an outside curve and an inside curve. Now I trace the pattern, line up the pen line with the seam line and trace along the edge. Very fast. Using a larger size pattern doesn't work, unless you're not very picky about the fit. It throws the proportions off, and means seam lengths don't match. Trying to make the seam lengths match then puts ease in the wrong spot, or causes skewing as extra bits are cut off, so it's definitely a case of saving 10 minutes now to waste 1 hour later. Sad but true :-(

      1. MargieT | | #8

        Thank you for the great idea.  I use Burda WOF frequently and adding the seam allowance is the only part I hate - love the patterns.

This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All