We’re so excited to bring you today’s tutorial about clips and notches from Sarai Mitnick, owner and designer of our favorite “modern vintage” Colette Patterns. We also can’t wait for the November release of Sarai’s new book, The Colette Sewing Handbook. The book is perfect for beginner through intermediate sewists, and features “five simple fundamentals” to help you create a beautiful wardrobe just right for you. Five gorgeous, exclusive patterns also help you build from Sarai’s sewing fundamentals as you sew. We always learn so much from Sarai through her clear instructions and helpful guidance; we’re so excited to have an entire book full of her support and incredible style to help us learn more. The book is definitely on our holiday wish list!


Sarai will be back after the book’s release to tell us a little more, but today you can enjoy her “Hows and Whys of Clips and Notches” so your seams will look great!

Concave clip, Convex notch

Have you ever wondered why sewing patterns often tell you to clip or notch a seam? You’ll usually come across those instructions when you’re working with a curved seam, but why is that?

The reason is simple. When a seam curves, like the ones shown above, the outer edge of the fabric (where the fabric has been cut) is a different length than the stitching line. When you try to fold the seam allowance under a curved seam, it bulges or strains in unsightly ways.

You can avoid this easily just by using your shears. I cover this in my book, but I thought it would be fun to take a little bit of a closer look.

What you want to do is clip into inward curves (the “canyons”, or concave curves) and notch the outward curves (the “hills”, or convex curves). Be sure to do this at even intervals, and don’t cut through your stitching. Let’s take a look.

Concave Curve

You can see what a mess this concave curve is when we don’t clip the seam allowance. It’s almost impossible to get it to turn neatly to the inside.

To correct the problem, the concave curve has been clipped evenly. Again, when cutting make sure to snip close to the seam allowance but take care not to cut the stitches.

After being turned to the right side and pressed, the curve is just as it should be. You can just see how the clipped seam allowance has spread out, allowing the fabric to bend into shape.

Convex Curve

The convex curve will form its final shape when flipped to the right side. Notice the bulkiness of the seam allowance beneath, how it doesn’t allow the fabric to lie flat even though an iron was used. It looks messy and a bit lumpy.

Notch the curve snipping at angles with the point of the notch just above the stitching line. Creating gaps in the seam allowance removes bulk.

Once turned to the right side, the notches move closer to each other but aren’t quite touching. The curve lies much flatter with the notched seam allowance.

Voila! You’ve mastered the simple art of clipping and notching for neater curves! Just remember that you clip the canyons and notch the hills.

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