Thursday, September 25, 2008

A few words about seam allowances...

Well, as anyone who has been to one of my bag-making classes knows, I really have a LOT of words to say on the subject.

I bang on endlessly about the importance of snipping and clipping seam allowances and "giving that wadding a little haircut...", and I use the term "reduce the bulk in the seam allowances" more than anyone else I know.

I leave interfacing and wadding on seam allowances when I want to create a structured edge on a topstitched bag flap - or to make a flat-stitched side-seam stand upright - but yesterday I didn't want to topstitch the Clutch flap. I was going for a clean-line look. I treated the seam allowances as I would on a seam that I wanted to press open and flat, and not topstitch.

HOW TO REDUCE BULKY SEAM ALLOWANCES

1. Pull the wadding and interfacing away from the seam allowance. 2. Trim off the interfacing as close to the stitching line as possible. ("You could use your duckbills for that", as my wee girl would advise. Nothing like a two-year-old who knows her sewing tools, huh?).

BTW - I love my duckbill scissors. They hold back and protect the seam allowances as you snip with the pointy upper blade. 3. Trim the interfacing AND wadding off the other side and clip the corners of the seam allowances.
4. Press the seams open (oops- forgot to take a photo)

5. Turn the flap through to the right side (I can show you a good "pointy corner" trick, but you'll have to come to a class for that because it's an ACTION demonstration!!).

6. Give it a good steamy press!

Of course you can always cut your seam allowances off your interfacing before you fuse it, but I find that I can be more accurate with the trimming if I leave it on until it's sewn. I also do a lot of block-fusing of fabric and interfacing before I cut out small bags and purses - that's more accurate, too.

Copyright Nicole Mallalieu 2008

Edited to add: Duckbill scissors are now available here!

14 comments:

Hoppo Bumpo said...

I like your few words (and pictures) about seam allowances. And now I think I absolutely have to find myself some duckbill scissors!

méri said...

Thanks!
I didn' know those duckbill scissors...

Michelle said...

i love all your handy hints...they make life so much easier for us poor sobs...can you give another demo of zippers? i'm still hopeless...

Nikki said...

If you download my pyramid purse tutorial from Living Creatively (link on my tutorials page on the website) there are a few hints on zips.

mayaluna said...

I love when you share your knowledge...so much to learn from you! Thanks for being so generous...it takes time and energy to explain the details :)

amandajean said...

what great tips....I'll have to try trimming my seams, especially when I quilt the pieces, because they get SO bulky.

little red hen said...

I've never used duckbill scissors before. They look nifty!

Gillian aka Silly Gilly said...

Oooooh, ahhhhh, (raised eyebrows due to being impressed), very crisp, sharp corner!
Never seen duckbill scissors, my assistant should have advised me of them long ago! Should I dock her pay??.....

thornberry said...

Oh yes, trimming back the bulk from those allowances makes all the difference! And duckbill scissors, hmmmm, you have definitely got me on a serious gadget/tool addiction I think. Will it rival my craft book addiction? My fabric addiction? My yarn addiction? My wishlists are growing longer by the second!

Kathleen Fasanella said...

Duckbill...interesting. In the states, these are better known as applique scissors. I've been using them for years, least of which for applique. The points of these are exceedingly sharp; useful for clipping corners on welt pockets.

Re: reducing interfacing bulk in seams. I can't speak how it's done in Australia but it's typical in RTW here to cut a separate pattern for fusibles that is 1/8th smaller all around which is much faster than having to trim after the fact.

Nikki said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nikki said...

Kathleen - For clothing that's a good method but I've never been a fan of it for bag-making.. With bags you often have very stiff interfacing and bulky wadding (fleece). It's important that it's achored to the fabric with stitches but not causing ANY bulk on the seam allowance, so it's trimmed back to the seamline.

Maria said...

I'm always having problems with turning corners out. Sometime they look great, most times...not so much. Since your technique is a demo, would you be willing to make a video for it? I would really, really love to know. :)

Season Laurel said...

The discovery of Duckbilled scissors might totally change my life!! Or at least my sewing :)