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How to Clip Curves on a Seam Allowance

    When sewing a garment, it is important to know how to do simple things like clip curves.  Major pattern brands often show a wedge being cut out of the seam allowance, but this is not always necessary.  Here we show a depiction similar to those used in store bought pattern instructions.  Many beginners believe, after looking at the photo, that it is important to cut the wedge.

v clipped curves image

   However, you only need to slice through the seam allowance to get the desired effect. Be sure though to grade your seams if you have very thick seam allowances. (Grading seams is simply to cut each layer a little shorter than the one below it so they “graduate” and thus reduce bulk in the overall seam allowance.)

straight clipped curves image

Clip a “V” in inside curves to reduce bulk. Outside curves do not need a “V” cut in them. Clip a straight line perpendicular to the seam, being careful to cut close but not through the seam.

clipping curves image

What should I do if I cut through the seam?

    If you cut through your seam just a little bit, like a millimeter or two, you can stitch a new seam around it, probably without it being noticeable. If you cut really far past the seam, you might have to recut that piece out and start over.

What if I have to let the seam out?

    If you clip your curves really close to the seam, you will not be able to let that part of the garment out. However, not clipping sufficiently enough (for the sake of being able to let it out later) may cause your garment's curves to pucker. If it's possible, it might be better to clip the curves a little bit and try the garment on inside out before clipping the curves really close to the seam, to ensure that the fit is proper, and then clip the rest of the curves.

Can I serge or finish off clipped curves?

    You can serge the curves before or after you clip them, but make sure if you do it afterwards, that you don't undo what you just did by clipping the curves in the first place. The point of clipping curves after sewing a seam is to give the seam some ease.

Check out our video demonstrating how to clip curves on a seam allowance:

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