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Forum > Beginner's Forum > Seam allowances seem really wide! ( Moderated by EleanorSews)

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Seam allowances seem really wide!
Blaceyda
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Blaceyda
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Member since 3/6/12
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Date: 5/10/12 4:02 AM

Hi everyone!
I've just bought my first commercial pattern to sew a dress for my niece - Simplicity 2683.
My question is about seam allowance: the pattern specifies a 5/8 inch seam allowance, and I've just measured it out on my machine throat plate, but it seems HUGE!

If my seam allowance is 5/8 inch, then when I press the seams open, the width of the seam allowance is 1 1/4 inches from edge to edge.... and again, it seems really wide.

I'm not sure if I'm explaining myself correctly, so I've adapted a little diagram:




Is this correct? It just seems (ha!) a lot more than I was expecting - but then maybe I'm used to buying clothes with serged seam edges....
Can anyone enlighten me?

CathrynR
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CathrynR  Friend of PR
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Date: 5/10/12 4:48 AM

5/8 SA is standard on most big pattern company patterns. Normally, after sewing the seam, you finish the seam. This is done in various ways which usually result in a narrowing the SA. A wide SA is a bonus if you are fitting while you sew, allowing you some adjustment room in the seams if needed. Many sewers, myself included will use even a 1" to 1.5" SA on a muslin and then go back to a regular SA on the real garment after muslin fitting.

Blaceyda
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Blaceyda
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In reply to CathrynR <<


Date: 5/10/12 7:08 AM

Thanks Cathryn! It's a relief to know it's standard SA: at school, we were taught the metric system, so I find it quite difficult to think in inches, yet most of the sewing resources I've found use inches rather than mm.
It's funny, because I've spent most of the morning researching seam finishes, and I never put two and two together to realise that the SA will narrow when I finish it...
Thanks for you help

Fictionfan
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Fictionfan  Friend of PR
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Date: 5/10/12 9:29 AM

1.5 cm = 5/8 in
1 cm = 3/8 in
More or less.
You may have been taught to use 1 cm SAs, which is easier to manipulate on curves than 1.5 cm.
Wider is better for certain ravelly fabrics and for fitting after the cut.

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Fictionfan

Michelle T

Michelle T
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Date: 5/10/12 9:38 AM

Some pattern companies use different seam allowances.

Kwiksew uses 1/4" on all their knit patterns. Burda magazine patterns have you add the seam allowance so you can decide who wide you want it to be.

Patterns printed for sale in Canada have to have metric on them as well as US measurements, French too.

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PattiAnnJ
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PattiAnnJ
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In reply to Blaceyda <<


Date: 5/10/12 12:40 PM

Now your question makes more sense! Metric is a tad bit shorter, smaller, narrower than the US system.

"They" tried to convert us (USA) to metric, but it did not take root!

"They" forgot about July 4, 1776!

I doubt if any of our sewing is absolutely perfect. If it works for you, then be happy, don't worry!

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“I don’t give them Hell, I just tell the truth about them and they think it’s Hell.” — Harry Truman

"Improvise, adapt and overcome." - Clint Eastwood/Heartbreak Ridge

CM_Sews
CM_Sews
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In reply to Michelle T <<


Date: 5/10/12 12:56 PM

Quote: Michelle T
Some pattern companies use different seam allowances.

Kwiksew uses 1/4" on all their knit patterns. [...]

Kwik Sew uses 1/4-inch seam allowances on some of their patterns for wovens, too.

I sewed a gazillion pieces of toddler clothing from Sewing for Toddlers, 1984, and, at first, I thought the 1/4-inch seams were much too small.

Eventually, I found that one of the overlock stitches on my regular sewing machine (not a serger) gave me a perfect 1/4-inch seam and finished the seam at the same time. The blind hem foot that came with my machine did double-duty as the overlock foot (with a pin to form the stitches to prevent tunneling). It worked perfectly. A finished 1/4-inch seam works rather well, and is quite sturdy, but it does not give you any room to let out the seam for fitting.

ETA: This blog post shows multiple ways to finish 5/8-inch seams. Most methods do not required a serger: Seam Finishes Simplified, Sew Mama Sew blog

CMC
-- Edited on 5/10/12 1:00 PM --
-- Edited on 5/10/12 1:05 PM --
Blaceyda
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Blaceyda
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Date: 5/10/12 1:02 PM

Thanks folks!
So am I right in thinking that a wider seam allowance is to allow for both finishing the seams and for letting out the garment?

Also, Michelle, that is interesting about the Burda seam allowances... it makes me wonder, do many companies do this? And if they do, do they tell you very clearly?

Coconuts
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In reply to Blaceyda <<
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Date: 5/10/12 1:41 PM

Yes, and they always mark pieces with SAs if they're not 5/8". Burda only does it on their magazine patterns, their printed (envelope) patterns include the 5/8" SAs. Here's a link to a blog post with photos of the pattern sheets (not my blog). You can see that they're not a usable pattern, they have to be transferred to something else for use.

lakaribane
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lakaribane
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Date: 5/10/12 2:15 PM

Another metric girl here! I find the imperial system very confusing myself. And I was sooo bad at fractions that I revert to metric even when I'm using Big 4 patterns (Vogue, Simplicity etc.) because it would make my head exploded, otherwise.

In my reviews, I write the measurements (usually alteration increments) in both systems as a courtesy to (and an acknowledgement of) the majority of US/imperial system using members of this website.

However, when I'm sewing, I use metric throughout.

As for Burda, I never considered this aspect but it is true that not giving seam allowances gives you the freedom to add whatever you wish.

It's the same for most of the magazine patterns I've used: La Mia Boutique (IT), Modellina (ES), KnipMode (NL), Manequim (BR) and possibly My Image and Ottobre.

@PattiAnnJ...there seems to be a contradiction inherent to what you are saying re:1776...
-- Edited on 5/10/12 2:19 PM --

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Fashion Maté, where I blog about what I (eventually) sew : http://fashionmate.blogspot.com
Addicted to Pinterest? Me too! : http://pinterest.com/lakaribane/

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