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Seam Allowance

Posted by Betsy on

seam allowanceTraditionally home sewing patterns do not skimp on the seam allowances. Don’t quote me on it, but I believe this stems from keeping the fit alterable. This is a good feature to have, especially if your weight fluctuates and you need to add or reduce the width. However, when it comes to the finished project, sometimes things just have a tendency to look homemade, but you just cannot put your finger on it. My ah ha! Moment was my first day of fashion school in the sewing room. Our strict instructor quickly quickly put everyone to right that 5/8″ seam allowance was not allowed as the industry standard is 1/2″ (actually 3/8″ is standard). 5/8″ is just an extra 1/4″ of extra width and bulk to your seams that is not necessary. As soon as I tried 1/2″ I was hooked. I noticed a vast improvement in cutting down on the seam allowance widths. Seam seemed smoother and edges crisper.
From school onward I have never gone back. 1/2″ is my standard for SBCC patterns. Anything more and it looks especially bulky on petite styles.
Knits have their own width of 3/8″ for SBCC patterns (industry standard 1/4″). If you look at any store-bought tshirt, take a look at the seam allowance. You will never find anything more than 3/8″ unless it is a design element. This is because of overlock machine limitations in width and the fact that one machine joins the seams instead of a straight edge and then overlocked edge. For mass production, less is more, but when you are making your own clothes, give a narrower seam allowance a try and compare the difference. Really, it is one of those things you just have to try to see.

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