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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sewing 101: Clipping Corners and Curves

When we do something with repetitive skills such as sewing, I think we all tend to have our favorite parts and least favorite parts of a project. You might love picking out fabric but despise having to cut out the pieces. Another person might like sewing on buttons but grumbles when it's time to gather ruffles. Well, one of *my* favorite parts of sewing is clipping the curves!  I know that may sound funny, but when I make those tiny cuts I feel like I'm doing a little magic trick that will make everything lay perfectly. And that's what we're going to talk about today: clipping corners and curves! Whether you're new to sewing or just want to learn a little more about the proper way to clip curves, this post is for you! (And for me too, just because it's so much fun.)  Here we go!

First we will start with clipping corners. Any time we sew a corner on the outside of our pieces (such as a sash or strap), we will be left with a corner of seam allowances. It looks good on the wrong side of the fabric -- but after we turn the sash/strap right side out, those seams will all be squished into a lump in the corner. Not pretty. Instead, we want our corners to be neat and crisp and flat. So before turning the sash/strap, simply cut off that little corner, close to the stitching, to reduce bulk. 

See? After turning and top stitching, even this fluffy fleece robe belt can have neat corners that aren't bulky or lumpy. 

The corner clipping technique is handy for other shapes and angles too - not just square corners. Here we clipped the triangular tips of our Charles' coat tails. 

It gives a really neat finish to the points, don't you think? We recommend ironing and top stitching as well, for a professional look. 

Now moving on to curves!  When a pattern tells you to clip the curves, it simply means that you do as shown in the photo above. This is the curved neckline of a bodice. If we were to try and turn the bodice right side out without clipping the curves first, the fabric would not allow the seam to spread out to the proper shape. Instead it would look all bunched up and not neat at all; and it wouldn't feel very good to wear either! So every time we sew a curved bodice, we will want to use sharp scissors to make small clips (cuts) that go close to the stitching. Be careful not to cut the stitches though! How far apart you make the clips will depend on how sharp the curve is. In my photo, I clipped approximately 1/4" apart. If the curve had been more gradual, however, I might have clipped every 1/2".  If we can pull the curve into a straight line, the clips should be sufficient. 

That is how we handle a curve, such as a neckline, that curves inward.  But what about one that curves outward, such as these scallops below?

For this type of curved seam, we don't need to give it more stretch by clipping. Instead, we need to reduce bulk by clipping, just as we did with the corners earlier.  So we need to go along the curves and clip out little triangles:

The photo above is what you want a clipped scallop edge to look like before turning. Then as you turn it out, those little triangles will close up and there won't be any bulky fabric to bunch up in the seam. Your curve will lay nice and flat! 

That's how to handle both types of curves.  Now we are on to the second type of corner!  How do you think we might handle this type of corner? Does it need to stretch or to reduce bulk? 

If you said that it needs to stretch, you are right! A nice, precise cut to the corner is all it needs. It's important to get it right into the very corner without clipping the thread. If you turn the bodice to the right side and you didn't clip well enough, you will know! It will be bunchy and awkward at the corners. But if we clip carefully, it will turn out really clean: 

Isn't that a neat finish? I often see store-bought clothes that could have been clipped a little more carefully. 

 I just love a precise neckline! I used several clipping techniques on my daughter's Tween Melody's dress, and I'm so happy with how it turned out.  Now that you have seen the basic technique of clipping corners and curves, you're all set to create some amazing new outfits. 

Let's Create! ~ Kristen   

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