Why Clipping Your Seam Allowance Is Important Pt 1: How close to clip.

In this series I am looking at clipping seam allowance, and why it’s an important step in achieving a neat finish.

To get started, lets first look at how to ‘clip’ your seam allowance.

There are two basic ways to ‘clip’.  The quickest and most commonly used method is to simply cut in a straight line from the edge of the fabric towards the stitching. The second method is to cut a ‘notch’ or ‘V’ out of the seam allowance.  This method is more time consuming, but very good for convex curves, especially in bulky fabrics such as fleece, denim and wool.


Now, lets have a look at how close you can cut to your stitching.  First, ‘clipping’ …


Clipping is very good on concave curves as it allows the fabric to ‘stretch’ apart. Cutting so close to the stitching can be a bit nerve racking, but the stitching will stop the fabric from tearing any further, provided you have not cut through the stitching.  It’s especially important to cut as close to the stitching on very tight curves.

Now a notch …


Again, I’ve cut this very close to the stitching line.  Notching the seam allowance is good for removing bulk.

Clipping and notching are generally only used on curved seams, but there is one straight seam where it is necessary …


In fashion sewing, this style of seam is used in ‘Welt’ pockets [think – the pocket on a suit].  In soft toy and doll making, you sometimes see it between the legs, especially when the legs and body are cut as one piece like this free doll pattern I found on Pinterest.


This particular one is curved, so the designer has put three clip marks on the pattern, but the concept is the same.


For a more squared off seam where you separate the legs by cutting the fabric between the stitching, stop approximately 1 cm before the end, then cut on a diagonal to both corners.  There is no need to cut away the triangular piece at the end.  To help strengthen this  style of seam, it’s a good idea to do a double row of stitching just in this section.

For this particular seam, cutting as close as possible to the stitching is a must.  If you don’t, your corners will not turn out right.


And this is how it looks turned out.  You can just see the stitching poking through in the corners.

If you have any questions, leave a comment below. If there is a particular technique you would like to see let me know 🙂

Happy sewing …





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