Clipping and Notching Curved Seam Allowances
You just finished sewing a project with Curved Seam Allowances, pressed and turned them right sides out….BUT seams aren’t laying smooth and flat, what do you do? Clip or Notch, that is the question!
Why should you clip/notch a curved seam? To reduce bulk or give fabric edge a bit of flexibility, in a curved seam allowance.
This technique is used on woven fabrics that aren’t able to stretch. Clipping helps the fabric to ‘relax’ and loose tension when sewing project is turned right side out, helping to keep seams flat and not wrinkled and bulky. Notching helps to eliminate extra fabric to reduce fullness along the seam line. Keep reading to see some helpful images….
There are two different types of curves
Inside Curves aka Concave Curves
This type of inside curve is like a DIP in the road or like the inside curve of a food bowl. Clipping is done on an inside curve.
Outside Curves aka Convex Curves
This type of curve sticks out like a speed bump on the road, or a pile of something. Notching is done on this outside curve.
How To Clip Inside Curved Seams
The inside curve will get a single clip, about every 1/2″, from the edge of the fabric towards the seam allowance. These clips will give the fabric a bit of flexibility to ‘fan out’ when turning fabric right side out.
After clipping the seam allowance fabric, the fabric stretches out from where you’ve clipped. This clipping after effect may look like notches were cut but only straight snips were cut.
The image above shows what the clipped seam looks like on the inside of the project in which fabric is turned wrong sides together.
How To Notch Outside Curved Seams
The outside curve will need notches cut out of the seam allowance, about every 1/2″, to get rid of fabric fullness. If the fabric is turned right side out and seam allowances aren’t notched, you will see a wavy seam allowance.
TIP-When you have an angled corner at either side of a curve, you will want to cut a skinny notch into the inside corner. After pressing, the inner angles will have flat laying fabric.
The Dressmaker’s Ham comes in different shapes, one actually looks like a ham and another one is a long cylinder shape to help with pressing sleeve seams. These are also know as pressing tools and are helpful in several different pressing/shaping situations.
Fabric Weight Determines How Clipping or Notching Is Completed.
When you are sewing with light to medium weight fabrics, you will clip or notch both front and back seam allowances together as shown in the above images. When you are sewing with heavy weight fabrics you will work with each seam allowance separately and staggering the clips or notches between each seam allowance layer.
Instances in which you would clip or notch fabric:
If you are sewing a garment and have a collar, upper flap of a pocket or any circular sewing such as sleeve caps; you will most likely see directions to clip or notch the curves.
If you are attaching a curved edge to a straight edge, you’ll do some clipping or notching.
You might also attach a convex curve to a concave curve in which case you apply appropriate clipping or notching. Just make sure if you are working with a garment, make sure fitting is complete before clipping or notching.
Finishing Steps Following the Clipping or Notching of Curved Seam Allowances
Depending on your project, you most likely will ‘grade’ the seams and then do some topstitching. Grading further eliminates fabric bulk and Topstitching is a way to give the curved seams extra strength. Both of these techniques will be discussed in a different post.
Practice sewing & notching curved seam edges while making a fun sewing project- Drink Coasters
Thanks for reading and Happy Simple Sewing to You!
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