Monday, April 21, 2014

Tool Review: Seam Allowance Guide

Hey, did you know it's really hard to cut and take a photo at the same time?
Seam Allowance Guide 

I recently discovered this neat sewing tool thanks to Pinterest.  It's a little plastic cylinder that attaches to your scissors with a magnet and measures your seam allowance so you don't have to add seam allowance to your patterns or measure and mark them on your fabric.  I ordered a pair immediately and I've now had a chance to test them out. (They come in a set of two: one for scissors with a flat blade and one for slant-bladed scissors.)

First, why is this tool needed?  Well if you only sew from commercial patterns and don't draft your own, or use patterns without seam allowance, you probably don't have much use for this.  But I find myself working more and more on patterns without seam allowance.  Modifying patterns is much more accurate if done without seam allowance.  Especially with corset patterns, it's important to finalize your pattern without SA for accuracy.

But then you have the problem of how to add SA back when you are cutting.  You can copy your pattern to another paper and add SA in on the paper, but then you have two copies of the same pattern, and it's very time consuming.  With corset patterns especially, I like to mark the stitching line for accuracy, so I trace around the pattern with chalk and then add SA on the fabric.  I've tried a few different ways of marking out the SA and none of them have been ideal.  So this sounded perfect to me.  No measuring or marking necessary!

So I tried it out on the jacket pattern I developed for my Femme Steampunk Darkwing Duck costume.  Because I created the pattern by draping and inventing and adjusting, I had my final pattern pieces with no SA.  I'm not overly concerned about exact stitching lines, so I just pinned my pattern to the fabric and used the Guide to cut the seam allowance.

The guide has two rubber rings that you can move to mark different thicknesses of SA.  I used 5/8" here.  You place the guide on the blade of your scissors and cut by keeping the correct ring along the line of your pattern piece.  It takes a little practice to keep your cutting accurate, since there's nothing keeping you from wobbling all over the place.  You also have to cut with your scissors on the left side of the pattern piece because the guide has to be on the blade above the fabric.

Overall, I'm happy with this, and it saved me a lot of time on this project with HUGE pattern pieces that would have taken forever to mark out the SA on.  My only real complaint is that I wish the magnet was a bit stronger because it is possible for the guide to slip up the blade as you cut, which leads to less accuracy in cutting.
My finished pattern piece.

The Seam Allowance Guide can be ordered from the maker here.  It's $15 for the pair, including shipping from Australia.  It arrived pretty quickly for me, in about a week.

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