Hello Sewing Friends! I’m Tamar from Tamar Hope Designs and I’m so excited that you’re here! Today I am thrilled to be able to kick off a year of Learning to Sew with Sunflower Seams!
On the last Tuesday of every month, I’ll be here with a new sewing 101 post. I’ll be taking you through important sewing skills and giving you promo codes for patterns to practice that skill. Each month’s pattern will build off the skills from the previous months’ patterns. After a year of following along with these posts, you will be sewing like a pro! And if you post your makes from each month’s patterns in the Sunflower Seams Facebook Page and/or instagram with the hashtag #learnwithSunflowerSeams, you will be entered to win a free Sunflower Seams pattern of your choice!
Today’s post is all about maintaining even seam allowances. This skill is quite possibly the most important skill to master in sewing. If your seam allowance is inaccurate or uneven, your pieces won’t fit together properly. Your fit will be off. Your finished garment will look crooked. And the seams could even come apart if the seam allowance is too shallow. Accurate and even seam allowances are a key to sewing beautiful garments.
How to maintain even seam allowances is one of the things that new sewists ask me about all the time. It’s challenging when you first start sewing to learn how to guide your fabric straight through your machine without putting any tension on your fabric. It’s also challenging to learn how to evenly control the foot pedal. The challenges of these two new skills put together, makes it difficult to maintain an even seam allowance. I’m going to give you a few tips to make it easier, but the bottom line is it takes practice. However, the flip side of that statement means that with a little practice, maintaining an even seam allowance will become easy! So, let’s get practicing!
Before you do any sewing take a moment to locate your seam allowance guides on your machine. Your machine will have lines with seam allowance markings for various seam allowances from 1/8 inch to 1 inch.
Also pay attention to any markings on your foot that line up with the seam allowance guides. Each foot will be a little different, but the outside edge of most all-purpose feet, lines up with the 3/8 inch seam allowance. I also have a mark on the inside of my foot that lines up with the ¼ inch seam allowance. And I have a groove on the middle of my foot that lines up with the 1/8 inch seam allowance. Look for these on your foot, and use them! It’s easier to line the edge of your fabric up with a point on your foot than with a line on your machine.
Another tip that can make following seam allowances easier when you are starting out is putting a piece of tape along the seam allowance. Butting your fabric edge up to something that is slightly raised can be helpful.
Finally, practice, practice, practice! I recommend practicing on a piece of paper to start. Take a piece of paper and sew without any thread. Try to make lines parallel with the edges of your paper at 5/8 inch, 3/8 inch and ¼ inch away from the edges of your paper.
When you get to the corner, make sure your needle is down, lift your presser foot, pivot the paper 90 degrees, lower your presser foot, and start sewing again. Try to make your corners nice and square.
Paper is a great way to practice your seam allowances without messing up any fabric! You can even use your paper pattern piece to practice before you sew on the fabric. I used the Freesia bow pattern and sewed around the paper piece with a ¼ inch seam allowance.
When you start sewing on fabric, make sure that you are lining your edges up exactly and pinning or clipping them to prevent shifting. If your fabric shifts, you might have a beautiful 3/8 inch seam allowance on the top fabric, but the fabric that shifts underneath will have a wonky seam allowance.
When you are ready to try a project, start with a simple bow pattern. Bows are the perfect starting project because they are small and quick. If you mess up terribly, you can just start over without losing too much time or fabric. And everyone loves bows. You can attach them to clips, headbands, or hats for any little girl in your life. Or you can use them to add a special handmade touch to gift-wrapped packages.
I used the Freesia bow pattern. I like this pattern, because it’s so versatile. You can either make a simple sailor bow or a double bow. It also has a great construction method. Most bows end up with a raw edge on the back. This bow has all finished edges. If you want to practice your seam allowances with this bow pattern from now until the end of February you can get it for 20% off with code SeamAllowance20!!!
Once you have a bow or two under your belt, try a little bigger project like a skirt! The Rosewood skirt is the perfect choice for practicing seam allowances. And you can use code SeamAllowance20 on this pattern too!
If this is your first clothing project, I would recommend doing the simple version without pockets or shorts. It will be a good simple way to practice seam allowances and have a lovely product to show for it! Then after making the simple version, you can dive in and try the pockets, shorts, and tiers. Come back next month for all the tips for gathering that adorable tiered version!
When you finish your project, don’t forget to post it in the Sunflower Seams group or Instagram with the hashtag #learnwithSunflowerSeams to be entered to win a coupon code for a free pattern of choice!
If you’ve never sewn before, and you’d like more information about cutting out your fabric and sewing through the Freesia Bow and Rosewood Skirt, check out this sewing lesson post over at Tamar Hope Designs.
And I’ll see you back here next month with all the gathering tips! Until then, happy sewing!