How to add seam allowance

The seam allowance is the area between the stitching and raw, cut edge of the fabric. None of the patterns on or in burda style magazine have seam allowance included – the line shown on the pattern is the stitching line. So you will need to add it before cutting your fabric.

The most common seam allowances are 1/4in (6mm), 1/2in (1.3cm) and the most common 1.5cm (5/8in). Your pattern should say which seam allowance you are to use.

There are various ways to do this – from methods by conventional couturiers, to DIY fixes to special gadgets for the job. Here are our top five picks:

5. The couture method

This great in-depth video from Fashion Sewing Blog shows you how to add seam allowance to burda style magazine patterns. While the download patterns on this site are simpler to work from as you only have one pattern on the sheet, the principles of adding the seam allowance are the same. The video is long at 9 minutes, but well worth your time!

4. The lo-fi fix

For a 6mm (1/4in) seam allowance, we love this ingenious lo-fi tutorial from Five Green Acres using simply two pencils taped together!

How to add seam allowance

3. The tape technique

For a 1.5cm (5/8in) seam allowance, check out this great tip from Linda74Sews over on the community, who says “The easiest way I know how to add seam allowance is to use the width of a measuring tape. Most (not all so measure) measuring tapes are 5/8″ in width, so using the metal end of the tape I go around the pattern and in 1–2″ increments, mark the position for the seam allowance. It’s a bit time consuming but it works well and is very easy.” Thanks Linda!

2. The perforation trick

How about this fabulous idea for adding a seam allowance to traced patterns from Off the Cuff Sewing Style. With a little coloured tape stuck to the sewing machine bed to mark the seam allowance width, sew round the pattern with a large wing needle and NO THREAD along the seam allowance line. The needle will perforate the paper meaning that you can just peel off the excess paper and there is no need to cut it out afterwards! Clever!

How to add seam allowance

How to add seam allowance

1. The great little gadget

Finally, top of the class comes the final idea. We think the fastest and most groundbreaking method we’ve found is using this awesome little gadget from Who doesn’t like the idea of add seam allowances as you cut with no need for tracing?! This great little video shows you how it works – which, frankly, is a treat!

What method do you use? Have you tried any of these techniques or do you have your own tips on how to add seam allowance? Share all in the comments below!

8 thoughts on “How to add seam allowance

  1. Silvia

    Help! Do I need to add sew allowance also on the fold? My good sense says no, but I am not sure….
    Let me know Asap! Please!!!!

    1. Rosie Johns

      Hi Silvia, no you’re completely right – you don’t usually need to add seam allowance to the fold!
      Good luck with whichever project it is that you’re sewing.

  2. Maureen

    Hello – I have not used this gadget ( double tracing wheel) yet but it looks like it would also be helpful to add the seam allowance to patterns (they are available on most sewing websites)

    1. Rosie Johns

      Hi Maureen, thank you for your suggestion! Yes the double tracing wheel is a very handy tool as the seam edge and cutting line are marked simultaneously, it’s a real time saver

  3. Adele.

    Hello, thank you for this information, I’ve just purchased my first pdf Burda pattern and printed & tiled the pattern pieces together. In regards to adding on the seam allowance, should I add it to every edge of all the pattern pieces? (except for when it’s “on the fold”) Thank you for your advice! 🙂

    1. BurdaStyleUK Post author

      Hi Adele, yes as a general rule that’s correct, but always read the pattern instructions a couple of times before you cut any fabric. Good luck!

  4. Yasuko

    I have just been thinking about this tied two pencil ideas!
    And I have never thought to use ‘off the cut style’! This is so fabulous idea!
    I love burdastyle managine and buying every month however all patterns are not including seam allowance and adding seam allowance is a double work.. I will definitely try it!
    Thanks a lots! 😀


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