How to match up seams

Matching seams

Obvious when you know how! When matching a straight edge to a straight edge (like a square cushion shape) it’s easy.  But if you are joining four points together or two different angles you need to remember that it is the seam allowance line that you are matching NOT the edge of the fabric.

I have drawn the seam allowance on the two pieces of fabric I am joining to demonstrate what I mean. When you are doing this yourself you can just measure and mark with a pin if necessary. I am working with 1cm seam allowance and a plain seam (match right sides of your pieces together as you would normally do).

Piece 1
Piece 2










The following picture is the incorrect way to lay piece 1 on piece 2. Although the fabric matches along the right hand side, if you sewed this the top right hand corner edge would not match up. Piece one would be shorter than piece 2 (underneath).

Incorrect seam allowance matching









The right way:

  • Place a pin at the point where the two seam allowance meet on your first piece of fabric (the top piece).
Pin at seam allowances meeting point








  • Next lay the first piece with the pin in it over piece 2. Match up the pin with the meeting point of the seam allowances on pieces 2 (i.e. where the seam lines cross)



  • This next picture is piece 1 on top of piece 2. The pin is going through the seam lines cross point on piece 1 and going through into piece 2 seam lines cross point.
  • The seam allowance line on piece 1 meets the farbic edge of piece 2 (underneath).
  • Pin your fabrics together in this positioin.








  • Sew the seam together. Start at the very top where the two fabric edges meet.
  • I have sewn the sample with black thread so you can see the stitching.
  • Now when you turn your piece out the right way you will see that the top edges of the two pieces line up perfectly.
  • Use this technique for beautifully matched up edges everytime!

It could be a Jersey nightmare

Jersey fabric can be a great fabric to work with or an absolute bitch.


  • If you have access to an Overlocker I would highly recommend using one to sew jersey with. Prior to sewing your actual garment you will need to do a lot of test samples to make sure the Overlocker tension is correct for your jersey.
  • Domestic Overlockers have come a long way and if you want to add a great finish inside your woven garments and you stitch a lot of jersey then they are worth splashin the cash.
  • Coverstitch machines provide the finish that you will find on the bottom of your t-shirts and jersey dresses. For a home sewer or student this is perhaps a step too far money wise because like the Overlocker it only does one type of stitch (and you will use it less than an Overlocker.
  • To finish off your garments without a Coverstitch machine you could get creative with your regular sewing machine and zig zag the edge, turn up and use its stretch straight stitch to finish it off. Another idea could be to bind or cuff the edge with a strip of fabric.

Laying and Cutting

  • Use lay paper underneath the fabric to stop it slipping around. Use the right paper so your blade isn’t ruined when cutting.
  • Use a large table space to lay out the fabric. You don’t want to move the fabric or allow it to drape, pull or drag off of or across the table.
  • When laying the fabric make sure the fabric is not held taut (stretched). It needs to be relaxed but not rippled or bumpy.
  • Don’t pin the pattern – use weights (you could use anything as a weight; fill empty water bottles with sand, dumbbells or big cellotape holders).
  • To avoid disturbing the fabric cut with a rotary blade not scissors.
  • Do not cut patterns on the fold. Trace the pattern so you have the whole piece.
  • Lay your pattern so that the main stretch of the fabric goes across (round) your body (not down it).


  • Gently feed/direct the fabric with your left hand and use your right hand to keep seam allowances together.
  • Also use your right hand and the table top to  stop the fabric from dragging whilst your sewing.
  • Never pull or stretch the jersey fabric as you sew as this will cause your seam to rumple (not very attractive down the side of a dress).
  • If your fabric is particularly slippery tack some tricky or important parts together before hand.
  • You could try sewing with tear away paper in the seams if you are having particular problems with stretching out of shape.

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