Sew, What's Up

Sew What’s Up Presents

The Sew What’s New Archive

This archived content is from Mary Wilkins’ sewing and quilting message board “Sew What’s New,” which was retired in August 2007. It is being provided by “Sew What’s Up,” which serves as the new home for many members of “Sew What’s New.”
From: sheilarenee
Date: 06-26-2006, 03:17 PM (1 of 9)
Hi everyone! I'm new here! My name is Sheila. I've been sewing for a few years now (wow, time flies). I sew mostly children's clothing for my 20 mo son and my nieces. Anyway, I've been working on some projects from my very first Ottobre mag! I finished a pair of shorts for my son that came out really great. And now I'm working on the linen 3/4 length pants and vest along with the oxford style shirt.

My question is about the seam allowances. I know I am supposed to add 1cm for allowances. But how do I make sure that I am getting the shape of the pattern accurate and exact if I'm no longer cutting along the edge of the pattern, especially near corners and curves? I figure there must be a very logical reason why the seam allowances aren't just added in the pattern itself...but what is the reason?LOL If it's giving me too much trouble should I cut one size up and just sew to the right size and trim the extra? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Other than this my experience with Ottobre has been great! Not as scary as I thought it would be. I was worried about the sparse instructions but since I've worked my way up to this, it wasn't a problem! Thank again!
User: sheilarenee
Member since: 02-17-2006
Total posts: 8
From: carman
Date: 06-26-2006, 07:14 PM (2 of 9)
just want to say "welcome" :bg: we have some expert sewers on this board and i know they will be here soon to help you out, glad you found us
User: carman
Member since: 04-17-2000
Total posts: 692
From: esrun3
Date: 06-26-2006, 07:25 PM (3 of 9)
Welcome! I'd love to answer your question but I haven't tried the patterns-get the magazine but haven't found time to read closely and do a pattern from them...If it were me, I'd probably trace the pattern, the with a ruler measure out along the edge of the pattern to add the seam allowance. That should give you the shape fo the pattern instead of "eyeballling" the seam allowance.
User: esrun3
Member since: 12-02-2004
Total posts: 2345
From: blackie
Date: 06-26-2006, 07:49 PM (4 of 9)
Congratulations on your delving into Ottobre! I love their stuff and am working on pieces from the latest issue now.

I'd guess the seam allowances aren't included for printing reasons. Imagine if on that pattern sheet you had all the different sizes and seam lines PLUS the seam allowance lines. Ick! perhaps someone else familiar with Euro patterns knows of another answer.

Do not make the next size up, sew to size, and trim the extra. This will not work for anything even slightly complicated and will be more of a headache than adding seam allowances. Ask me how I know this!

At first I was lazy with Ottobre and didn't want to add allowances. So for my first Ottobre patterns I would trace and cut out the "finished" measurements, put the pattern on the fabric, and then add my seam allowances by eyeball as I cut (so, leaving 1/2" difference between the pattern piece and the cut fabric). This works OK actually (because I cut with rotary equipment and I am very accurate with it), but ultimately has its drawbacks. So now I've decided to do it less half-arsed:

Since the tracing, adding of seam allowances, ironing, cutting and labeling of pattern pieces is kind of laborious, I usually do that in one sitting at night. The night before I'm going to start sewing something, I trace all the pieces size and features, cut them out, label them, and then add the seam allowance in a separate color. I add seam allowances by the use of a plain gauge ruler, and I use 1/2" S.A. Around curves, you just have to make more dots at your S.A. distance from the stitching line edge. I have never used a French curve for this. The trick is to make sure the gauge ruler's hashmarks are tangential to the piece of the curve you are cloning.

After my seam allowances are included and my pieces are labeled, I cut out the pieces, iron them, and set them aside in numerical order. Then when I'm ready to sew I have a beautiful pattern made. One advantage few discuss about pattern tracing, is you are very familiar with the pieces when you finally start laying them out, etc. It helps me make fewer mistakes and inspires me as well.

Having the stitching line on the pattern in one color helps when lining up patterns, etc. But having the seam allowances (as opposed to "guesstimating" them) works better than my previous "eyeball" method for accuracy, and avoids the extra thinking that guesstimating requires during pattern layout on uncut fabric.

Additionally, I highly reccommend a "fabric" type tracing medium, as opposed to paper. It's sturdy and "glues" itself to fabric - I rarely need to pin down. The best I've found is Folkwear's tracing medium (


see the mundane life of a housewife.
User: blackie
Member since: 03-31-2004
Total posts: 594
From: sheilarenee
Date: 06-26-2006, 08:34 PM (5 of 9)
Thanks Ladies! Very useful info!

Kelly, I've also cut out the pattern to size and marked an xtra cm on the fabric and then cut. But your solution of adding them on the tracing paper is so much better! AND SO SIMPLE! DUH! The easiest solutions are often right under my nose!

I totally agree with tracing letting you become familiar with the pattern. So many times I've figured out how the garment is supposed to be constructed just from the pattern. And great tip about making the SA in a different color. I probably would not have done that either.

I also use fabric tracing "stuff". I get it by the role, I think 10 yds per role at the fabric shop near me. We don't have too many shops around here and I've been too lazy to search online, so I will definitely check out your link!
User: sheilarenee
Member since: 02-17-2006
Total posts: 8
From: blackie
Date: 06-26-2006, 09:42 PM (6 of 9)
sheilarenee - FWIW, sometimes the stuff off the bolt at the fabric store has this gross fuzzy, tacky feeling to it. The Folkwear stuff does not.
see the mundane life of a housewife.
User: blackie
Member since: 03-31-2004
Total posts: 594
From: MrsSnuggly
Date: 06-29-2006, 11:43 AM (7 of 9)
Just got my first Ottobre and am desperately not looking forward to transating all the cm into inches....but am terribly excited about the sewing part and can't make up my mind what to start with.....typical.

it's like whenyou'r ein the fabric store and you can o nly get one...... :wink:
Very excited for you - make sure and share pics!!!!

User: MrsSnuggly
Member since: 05-21-2006
Total posts: 104
From: sheilarenee
Date: 06-29-2006, 10:44 PM (8 of 9)
In the Fabric Store and only get just One?!?!? That never happens! LOL I will try to share pics soon. I am almost done with the boys 3/4 length linen pants/vest set with the blue gingham shirt. Good luck to you too! And I know what you mean about deciding what to make first! I just want to make everything! LOL
User: sheilarenee
Member since: 02-17-2006
Total posts: 8
From: bridesmom
Date: 07-03-2006, 06:55 PM (9 of 9)
OK, I must be a total ditz because I thought the 1/4" seam allowances were included on the patterns. When I get home I'll have to go check my books out again. I've never added the seam allowance to any of the outfits I've made and everything has always turned out just fine.
Tickled pink with my Innovis 4000D
User: bridesmom
Member since: 01-21-2004
Total posts: 2026
Sew, What's Up
Search the “Sew What’s New” Archive:
Visit Sew What’s Up for the latest sewing and quilting tips and discussions.
This page was originally located on Sew What’s New ( at