Do sewing patterns include seam allowance

Do Sewing Patterns Include Seam Allowance?

If you want to keep your fabric evenly stretched, you should have seam allowances. Measure your seam allowances on one side of your fabric, or check it with a ruler. You have to cut the layout perfectly to line up the seams accurately. If your fabrics are not equal, cut any excess fabric. When you are measuring for seam allowance, do not count over 1/8 inch (3 mm ) as a seam allowance. Seam allowances will let you create well-fitted garments.

If you want to save time before you begin sewing your garment, it is important to cut layouts, this will save you from making any mistakes. When you know how to sew, it will make hemming and other mending much easier. Measure your pattern first, before you cut your fabric, which will save you from lots of adjustments. In this article, we have discussed, different kinds of patterns with seam allowances, different lengths for seam allowances, etc.

Key Takeaways

  • We have discussed here that different sewing patterns have different symbols which indicate where to start cutting.
  • Seam allowances have different lengths and widths for different area.
  • Few tips and guides on how to preserve sewing patterns.

Do Sewing Patterns Include Seam Allowance?

Do sewing patterns include seam allowance
Do sewing patterns include seam allowance

Some of the sewing patterns will include seam allowance, and some sewing patterns do not include seam allowance, here in this section, we will try to find out the reason behind this. It is because if you want to join the different parts of the clothing together, you will need to have seam allowances.

What are the seam allowances? Seam allowances are the area that you will find between the pattern edge and the stitching line. If you are reading the sewing pattern for the first time, you will have to look for the seam allowances. You will find them in the sewing instructions or they will be written on the pattern. According to some experienced sewists, the McCalls, Vogue, Butterick, and Simplicity- the big four sewing pattern makers include a 5/8 inches allowance, surprisingly, other pattern maker companies do not include the seam allowances, and for that, you need to add them before you cut.

Seam Allowances: Definition and Types

Seam allowances: Definition and types
Seam allowances: Definition and types

Seam allowances are the areas between the rough edges of your fabric and the stitching line. Seam allowances vary and they depend on the project that you are sewing. They have a range between ¼ inch to 5/8 inch. Some big companies that make patterns include seam allowances on their sewing patterns. Before you start cutting them, you will be able to measure them and write. If you are looking at sewing patterns, you will find that it is intimidating by the myriad of information and details that you could find on them. Additionally, you will find information and writings other than seam allowances that are unfamiliar. So, here we will discuss some basic rules of thumb that will help you to figure out the information that you find on sewing patterns. You need to note that, they will vary depending on the company, so you should always keep the manufacturer’s instructions.

1. Symbol key

You will find a key that will serve as your guide to understanding the symbols on your pattern pieces. Most symbols are universal. The symbol key varies by company. You can stick to the symbol key when you are not sure what it is written on your pattern pieces.

2. Grain lines

If you have a double-pointed arrow, this will represent the grain line in a sewing pattern. It is there to tell you where to align your pattern pieces on the fabric.

3. Fold line

You should place the pattern piece on the fabric fold which you will know by fold line. The broken lines on the edge of the pattern pieces will show to not cut on edges. Do not cut on the edge, because then, there will be no seam allowance for the pieces to join together. This way, you are changing the pattern fits.

4. Cutting lines

Different companies have different patterns depending on their cutting lines in sewing patterns. The two most popular pictures are a solid line with an image with a pair of scissors and a dotted line with breaks. When you recognize the cutting line, then only cut through the line.

5. Stitching lines

Stitching lines are generally thin, broken lines. The stitching lines are there where you sew. The stitching lines have symbols which may include an image of sewing feet and arrows along the line. Sew along the stitching line and follow through the direction of the arrow.

6. Seam allowance marking

There is a distance between the cutting line and the stitching line, this distance is known as seam allowance. If you have a squiggly bracket that will tell you the marking of the seam allowance with a fraction. This is usually 5/8 inches. You will know from which distance to the edge, you should be stitching. The seam allowance markings are there for you. Not every pattern has this seam allowance marking.

7. Adjustment lines

If you have to shorten or lengthen your pattern piece, the adjustment line will tell you that. The adjustment lines are two bold parallel lines. You can adjust between the lines and change the pattern.

8. Notches

If you have to line up more than one piece of fabric by joining them, you will see notches. There are matching symbols that will indicate where to join them. The symbols are drawn diamond-shaped or triangular. If you can line up the bases of the triangles, you will have the best use of these symbols.

9. Dots

You will find dots on your sewing patterns which will tell you where is the placement of the pockets, where to join the collar and darts. If there is no dot, you will find squares or other shapes.

10. Button and buttonhole markings

As the name indicates, the bottom and bottom hole markings will tell you where you should have your button and buttonhole marking. The markings will have the same length as your buttons. The buttonhole marking is shown as an X. These are usually short lines with adjoining lines at the end.

11. Zipper marking

If you need a zipper somewhere, you will see a solid line with an arrow that is pointing inwards on the front and back sides of the clothing. The arrow will show at the beginning and end of the zipper. The length of the symbol will be the same as the length of the zipper.

Measurements: Adding Seam Allowance To The Pattern

Measurements Adding seam allowance to the pattern
Measurements Adding seam allowance to the pattern

If you do not have seam allowance on your pattern, draw it by yourself. If you have commercial patterns with you, you will notice, they are using the same seam allowance for every seam. If you want to change the seam allowance for any particular area, you can do that. Make sure where you want your seam which will create better seams and your garment will not look baggy. The method you are following and the kind of fabric you are using will measure the seam allowance. Below we have given a common list of seams and seam allowances.

  1. Shoulder Seam (½ in – 5/8 in) – the seam allowance is big which will give strength to the area to make it more stable.
  2. Side Seam (½ in – 5/8 in) – if you need adjustments, the seam allowance is big, so you can loosen your garment in the future and you can add strength to the seam.
  3. Arm Hole (3/8 in – 5/8 in) – the armhole has very strong curves, so to get a nice fit, it is the best choice to make a narrow seam allowance.
  4. Sleeve Cap (3/8 in – 5/8 in) – sleeve cap and armhole should have the same seam allowance, since, they will be sewn together.
  5. Neck Line (¼ in – ½ in) – the collar seam will have size depending on the neckline of the garment. The seam allowance will depend on shape, design, and collar. If you have a circular neckline, it will be difficult to make a nice shape, for this, a narrow seam is made. You can not make large seam allowances as they will make your garment bulky.
  6. Hem (3/8 in – 6 In) – hems have a huge range of seam allowances. Various factors, such as the fabric, the shape of the garment, etc. will determine the seam allowance. For example, if you have a sheer blouse, it will need a small hem and if you have a heavy wool skirt, this will need a wider seam allowance for more stability to the hemline.
  7. Waistband (3/8 in – 5/8 in) – if you want to make it wider, you can, as it is hidden. When the seal allowance is big, it will also make a strong seam.
  8. Crotch Seam (½ in – 7/8in) – this is where tension is placed on the seams. A big seam allowance will make the seam strong.

Cutting A Sewing Pattern

Cutting a sewing pattern
Cutting a sewing pattern

Sewists cut their patterns in their style. They are different from each other. Pattern companies have their ways of writing their pattern. So, the method of cutting patterns may not apply to other manufacturers.

If you are a beginner, here below we can give some tips and guides to cut sewing patterns.

If your sewing pattern has seam allowances, cut it as it is, and read the instructions thoroughly before you start cutting.

In some circumstances, you will not be able to cut your pattern from the original sewing pattern. in this situation, you need to trace your pattern.

  1. If the seam allowances are not included: Trace your pattern on a different pair and then add seam allowance. Trace the pattern directly onto the fabric and then draw seam allowances.
  2. If you want to preserve your pattern: Trace your original pattern on separate paper and cut your pattern for later use, this way, you will be able to preserve your original pattern.
  3. If the pattern pieces overlap or if they are printed on both sides: Sometimes, the marking of the pattern pieces will overlap. In this situation, it is difficult to cut the original pattern because they are faulty. If you have patterns from books and magazines, they usually are printed on both sides of the book, so, you may end up ruining the other pattern. so, trace one pattern on one paper and then trace another pattern on a different paper before you start working on them.
  4. If your pattern has different sizes: If you have different garment sizes, you should preserve your original sewing pattern, then trace the pattern on different papers and different garment sizes. if you do this, you will be able to preserve your original pattern for future projects.


What is included in a sewing pattern?

A sewing pattern is an instructional guide that tells you how you can assemble your fabric into a dress or other clothing design. It is usually a template that is made of paper that should be laid onto the fabric, it should be traced and the fabric should be cut out.

What is the seam allowance for patterns?

The standard seam allowance is 5/8’’ (1.5 cm), although, your projects may have different seam allowances. This provides extra fabric between the seam line and the cut edge to ensure all the layers are stitched when they are joining.

How do I know if my pattern has a seam allowance?

You can add notches on each corner of the pattern pieces when you don’t want to add any physical lines. These notches will tell you where each seam line is and then they will be transferred onto the fabric once the pattern pieces have been cut.

Final Thoughts

As we have discussed, sewing patterns include seam allowance which will give you some space to sew along the line. We have also discussed different sewing patterns with different symbols which indicate where to cut the fabric. We have given here some length for seam allowance which you can add to your sewing patterns. If you want to preserve your original pattern, you can do that, too. To do so, you have to trace your original pattern to different papers and then, onto your fabric before cutting. This way, you will be able to make nice clothing.


Hey I’m Sherry Howes an expert in sewing, knitting, crocheting, and embroidery. With a passion for fiber arts and a talent for crafting, I Have spent years improving my skills and sharing knowledge with others. Whether teaching a class or creating a new project, I’m always excited to share my love of crafting with the world. I like researching new techniques and trends in the crafting arts community.

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