Finishing Up

What to add before you start sewing

Once you have traced your sloper onto drafting paper and made all the design changes, including drafting a waistband and any other pattern pieces, there are a few elements that should be marked on the paper patterns before you use them to cut out your fabric, including grainline arrows, registration marks, and any special labels, such as the name of the piece and how many pieces to cut.


Seam and hem allowances are left off a pattern until it is a completed designed and ready to go. Once you are finished drafting your pattern, each seamline requires seam allowance.

Commercial patterns typically use ⅝”-wide seam allowances. However, the garment industry tends to uses ½”-wide seam allowances, which reduces bulk inside your garment. The ½”-wide seam allowances also conserve fabric by allowing more pieces to fit across your material, and they are easier to draft with a ruler.

seam allowances

For the skirts in this book, add ½”-wide seam allowance to all seams. However, you might find it easier to install a zipper with slightly wider seam allowances, so consider adding ⅝”-wide seam allowances to any seams that will hold a zipper (this is optional). And, for concealed seams like those inside a waistband, ¼”-wide seam allowances are adequate.

Remember to add seam allowance to all the pattern edges that will be joined to another edge; do not add seam allowances to edges that will be placed on the fabric fold. If there is a center-front or center-back seam, remember to add seam allowance. The grainline arrows will indicate if the fabric is to be cut on the fabric fold.

To add seam allowance, align your ruler with your drafted seamline. Then draw the seam allowance parallel to the seamline.

TIP : Always write the width of the seam allowance you added somewhere on the pattern or indicate it with a notcher as indicated on the next page.

to add seam allowance


Once you have drafted your own patterns, it’s important to mark them correctly so you can remember exactly what you did when you start to sew. A notcher is a tool I use frequently in the sewing room to mark things such as seam allowances and dart legs. The following things should be marked on every pattern piece.

Pattern Name. It is so important to label each pattern piece with the name of the design. There have been many times when I was cleaning my sewing room that I accidentally threw out an important element for a pattern, thinking it was rubbish. Clearly label each pattern piece before cutting it out to avoid an untimely demise in the trash can.

Registration Marks. Commercial patterns, such as those from Simplicity, Butterick, and Vogue, draw triangle marks (notches) on the pattern edges to help with registration so you know where to match pieces to sew them together. You can add similar marks to your patterns to remind you how the pieces should be assembled once they are cut apart. A notcher is the perfect tool for making registration marks.

Be sure to make registration marks on all seamlines, including the center front and center back. Typically the center front is marked with two registration marks, while the center back is indicated with three marks. For instance, in the Block Party Skirt, registration marks were added to each seamline as a reminder of which pieces needed to be sewn together.

Registration Marks

Seam allowances. As a reminder of how much seam allowance you added to a pattern, you can mark the width of a seam allowance by notching the pattern at one end of the seam. You can also use this method to mark hem allowances.


Darts. It’s important to mark the top edge and point of the darts. If you have a notcher, use it to mark the dart legs at the top edge of the skirt or simply cut a notch. You can use an awl to mark the dart point ¼” inside the point and then circle it with a pencil.

Design Elements. Once all the design elements are clearly drawn on your patterns, it helps to add marks for easier matching and sewing. For items like patch pockets and appliqués, use an awl to poke holes in the pattern ¼” inside the cutting lines. Circle the holes so that you can see them clearly later.

For the Pocket Change Skirt, I added two militarystyle pockets on the skirt fronts. To remember where I should place the pockets later, I added placement dots with an awl.

Source :
SKIRT-A-DAY SEWING Create 28 Skirts
For A Unique Look Every Day
Nicole Smith