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Seam allowance guide tool (and giveaway!)

13 March 2012, 14:50

Have you seen there’s a new gadget out to help in adding seam allowances to patterns as you cut the fabric? I’d seen mentions of these a few places online, but I finally had a chance to try mine out last night as I cut out a quick knit top for myself.

You get two guides in the pack – green is for scissors with straight sides, and yellow is for scissors with angled blades, like my favourite vintage tailor’s shears. You just stick the guide onto the side of your scissors and adjust if necessary. They got the magnet exactly right on this – it’s strong enough that it doesn’t shift around when you’re using it, but weak enough that it’s easy to adjust or pull off when you’re done.

You also get two black rubber rings per guide, so you can set up two guide distances at the same time (or, err, just store the extra one on the end so you don’t lose it!!). I’ve got mine here at 5/8” for regular seam allowances, and 1” for hem allowances (though it’s also handy for cutting strips for bias binding or my new Coverpro binder attachment!)

I made the mistake first off by sticking the guide in the centre of the blades, but you actually want it quite close to the tip as I’ve done here, otherwise you’re “flying blind” until your cutting catches up with the guide! Once I got the hang of where to place it, it really was a piece of cake to use.

I’m often asked how I add seam allowances onto patterns, and the truth is, I usually just eyeball them when I cut out my fabric. When you’ve been working with magazine patterns for as long as I have, you can see 5/8” in your sleep, but for me the big win here with using the guide was accuracy! If you’re someone who tediously adds seam allowances onto your paper pattern with a ruler or double tracing wheel, or chalks out the allowances on fabric before you cut, this tool is going to be a major time saver.

It’s one of those great, simple inventions where you can’t help but say “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Oh, and if you’re confused by the oddly shaped pattern piece in the above photo, here’s a sneak preview in advance of this weekend’s photoshoot:


The makers of the seam allowance guide very kindly sent me extra sets, so I’ve got one THREE! to giveaway to lucky FehrTrade readers! To be in the competition, please leave a comment below stating your favourite “no seam allowance included” pattern company! I’ll pick the winner this weekend (18 March), and I’ll ship anywhere in the world (it’s nice and lightweight to ship!).

UPDATE: This competition has been so popular, the makers have said there will be THREE sets to win now!! You’ve all just tripled your chances!

These seam allowance guides are available to buy at seamallowanceguide.com for AUS$15 each (that’s about £10 or US$15) with free worldwide shipping.

Full disclosure – I got my review copy sent for free, but my opinions are genuine. Believe me, I get offered a lot of free stuff for giveaways, but I only pass on the stuff I genuinely think my readers will enjoy and use, rather than just being advertised to! COUGHvintagedressshopspamCOUGH



  1. Melissa, I love your sewing blog – you are such an inspiration to me. By the way, my favouriet ‘no seam allowance included’ pattern company is Burda. I have subscribed to the Burda magazine for about 12 years now.

    — Lene    Mar 13, 03:07 PM    #
  2. Oh, I’d love to try such a thing for sure! Thanks for sharing this.

    Victoria Callas    Mar 13, 03:10 PM    #
  3. My favorite “no seam allowance included” pattern company is Neue Mode. And I agree with Lene above – you are such an inspiration!! Thank you!!

    — Theresa Hill    Mar 13, 03:26 PM    #
  4. When i first saw these i thought wh t a brilliant idea. Why cant i think up things like this.

    — Pat Beadle    Mar 13, 03:35 PM    #
  5. My favorite no seam allowance company is Burda. This is a great giveaway—Thanks.

    Rachel    Mar 13, 03:36 PM    #
  6. Burda (magazine) is my favorite. What a nifty little time saver.

    — Susan Dryer    Mar 13, 03:40 PM    #
  7. well I just purchased my first Burda Feb. issue for the great dresses, so I will have to say Burda. Had to laugh, I also see 5/8 in my sleep. Would love to try these gadgets.

    Beth (Sunnygal Studio)    Mar 13, 03:41 PM    #
  8. Very cool gadget, it would also work great for me.
    I would have to say Burdastyle patterns are my fav.

    Trice    Mar 13, 03:44 PM    #
  9. Burda and my own when i make sth from scratch! Thamks for this

    Sewing princess    Mar 13, 03:57 PM    #
  10. My favourite no seam allowance included pattern company is Burda. I love it when their new magazine comes out -so exciting!

    Can’t wait to see the new project looks like it will be fun.

    Jane    Mar 13, 04:02 PM    #
  11. I really enjoy Burda WOF or BurdaStyle patterns – crazy overlays and all! It’s an adventure every time… and it would be even more fun with such a handy gadget! Great idea. Thanks!

    — M Kate    Mar 13, 04:12 PM    #
  12. My favorite no seam allowance company is Ottobre!

    — Andreva    Mar 13, 04:13 PM    #
  13. The only patterns I tried without seam allowances are Burda. I add the seam allowances on my traced copy but it takes so looong :(
    I would love to have this gadget.

    Litchi    Mar 13, 04:26 PM    #
  14. My favourite no seam allowance included pattern company is Burda. This gadget looks like a time saver.

    — Andrea    Mar 13, 04:31 PM    #
  15. I would love to try the seam allowance tool – such a clever idea. My favourite seam allowance free patterns are Ottobre.

    — Terri    Mar 13, 04:34 PM    #
  16. I use mostly Burda magazine patterns. This little gadget seems very useful, I would love to join a giveaway too.

    Maria    Mar 13, 04:51 PM    #
  17. The only ‘no seam allowance company’ I’ve used is Burda. So it is my favourite!

    — maggie    Mar 13, 04:59 PM    #
  18. Please don’t include me in the give-away. I mostly make my own patterns and add seam allowance on paper, which works well for me. Better to let it go to someone who will use and enjoy it.
    I just wanted to say I already thought I recognised the Pattern Magic flip turn top before you showed the picture of the finished garment. It looks very nice though. I’m looking forward to its big reveal in a later post!

    lauriana    Mar 13, 05:04 PM    #
  19. Ahhh! So cool + I can never resist a good sewing gadget :) My fav ‘no seam allowance’ company is BurdaStyle.

    Claire (aka Seemane)    Mar 13, 05:12 PM    #
  20. Burda by far. I’ve seen this guide before but wasn’t sure. Glad to know that it’s legit!

    Dei    Mar 13, 05:15 PM    #
  21. What a great give away! I love Burda patterns but HATE having to add the seam allowance!

    Thanks for the giveaway!


    — Jill    Mar 13, 05:19 PM    #
  22. Favourite has to be Burda Magazine, I used them all the time when I started sewing but have gotten lazy over the last few years. This toll would make using them so much easier.

    — Bridget    Mar 13, 05:34 PM    #
  23. I am brand new to companies that do not use seam allowances. In the past have just used Vogue, Butterick etc. From your blog I am in the process of my 1st Burda pattern and using your tracing tips. I did not have any brown paper so used the back of a roll of wrapping paper.

    — SHEREE    Mar 13, 05:44 PM    #
  24. What a great idea! My favorite is Ottobre or Burda depending on who I’m sewing for.

    — MelissaB    Mar 13, 05:48 PM    #
  25. I like the look of the neckline on your top. This looks like such a nifty gadget- simple but effective .Overall my favourite company has to be Burda world of fashion magazine.

    Lisa Penrice    Mar 13, 06:01 PM    #
  26. Burda, no question! I really like the detail of your top, and I look forward to seing more of it!

    peaudane    Mar 13, 06:25 PM    #
  27. I just used a Ottobre Pattern. Can’t say figuring out the puzzle of the pattern pieces was fun, but I loved the fit.

    kathyh    Mar 13, 07:11 PM    #
  28. I use Knipmode for everyday clothes, Burda for more dressed up stuff and occasionally Ottobre or My Image. This looks like a great timesaving gadget!

    — Rebecca    Mar 13, 07:18 PM    #
  29. I mostly sew with Burda, Ottobre and Knipmode, and have just only started one dress with included seam allowance (from McCalls).

    — Ute    Mar 13, 07:24 PM    #
  30. It would have to be Burda although i have to work myself up to tracing anything from the crazy pattern sheets these days!

    Betty    Mar 13, 07:49 PM    #
  31. Burda WOF, although I keep meaning to try Ottobre Woman…

    And yes, I am one of those people who draws on the seamlines!

    Lucy    Mar 13, 08:15 PM    #
  32. What a nifty device! Burda magazine is actually the only pattern I’ve tried without SA, but it’s what I mostly sew from.

    — Christine    Mar 13, 08:18 PM    #
  33. I’ve been eyeing these things up for a while but was a bit sceptical. Your review has changed my mind :) My favourite “no seam allowance included” pattern company at the moment is Manequim. Personally I prefer no seam allowances so that I can alter fit and make other changes without the confusion of that extra 5/8” added into the equation.

    kaitui_kiwi    Mar 13, 08:19 PM    #
  34. That looks like a handy tool! It would help to speed up sewing from my KNIPMODE magazines.

    — Hen    Mar 13, 08:21 PM    #
  35. I’d love to win one of the seam allowance guides! It would make using Burda Magazine patterns so much easier.

    — Sherry Roche'    Mar 13, 08:25 PM    #
  36. I would love that gadget.I don’t know what it does & I haven’t used a pattern yet, but mommy & grandma help me. I LOVE SEWING. I know Megan is not eligable but this little girl can sew. You will be so proud

    — cris rush    Mar 13, 08:35 PM    #
  37. Oooh, I’ve been wanting one of these gadgets. I love Burda. I’m too new at this, so I have been hesitant to spend money on the other no SA pattern mags not in English, but I do love the patterns I’ve seen shared from Knipmode.

    — Crystal    Mar 13, 08:51 PM    #
  38. I’ve been using the seam allowance for few months, it is handy! But also a bit dangerous for people like me who tend to think that few millimeters more or less doesn’t make too much difference…

    Kalinchen    Mar 13, 09:01 PM    #
  39. I saw this little gadget some time ago and was wondering if it was as good as I thought… Well, seems it is! Thanks for the chance to win and the review.
    My favourite always was Burda but recently I fell in love with Ottobre for their clear pics and fitting!

    Baking Soda    Mar 13, 09:04 PM    #
  40. Thanks, Melissa and the gadget folks! My fav is still Knipmode, even with its recent disappointments – their patterns just fit me so well, and no lengthening needed!

    Laura    Mar 13, 09:13 PM    #
  41. Hi Melissa – gosh, had I known such a handy tool existed I would have bought one pronto! My favourite no-seam allowance pattern co is Marfy :)

    poppykettle    Mar 13, 09:34 PM    #
  42. I’d like to be entered in your contest please. My favorite no seam allowance pattern company is Burda. Thanks.

    Faye Lewis    Mar 13, 09:37 PM    #
    My no seam allowance included pattern company is Burda, of course, and I don’t see any another company that can compete with it!

    MySummerTouch    Mar 13, 10:45 PM    #
  44. I usually use BWOF as my no seam allowance patterns (what I can get easily here in the hinterlands of Alberta Canada). I’d love your snazzy little tool! Thanks for doing this

    — Jodie    Mar 13, 11:39 PM    #
  45. Melissa, don’t count me in the giveaway as I already have one of these wonderful gadgets. It certainly is a great time saver when working on Burda patterns!

    — BeccaA    Mar 14, 12:23 AM    #
  46. I have a stack of ottobre magazines that I’ve been scared to sew from because I’ve never added seam allowances before.

    — Rebekah Stockton    Mar 14, 01:07 AM    #
  47. What a great giveaway! My favourite is Burda, much as I love looking at the Patrones and Knipmode patterns you sew we don’t have them here in New Zealand.

    — Lisa    Mar 14, 02:43 AM    #
  48. I am still quite new to patterns without seam allowances. I have only tried the Burda Co., but I look forward to some new, possibly independent, patterns.

    Anna Christina    Mar 14, 02:54 AM    #
  49. I’m fairly new to sewing for real (I’ve dabbled all my life) so the only pattern company that I know of that does not include seam allowances is Burda.

    Awesome give away!

    Tina C.    Mar 14, 02:54 AM    #
  50. I love Burda, but I have recently discovered that I really like Lekala patterns. I normally use a rotary cutter with the seam arm, but this looks easier and more accurate.

    Erin    Mar 14, 04:01 AM    #
  51. I love Ottobre

    Leah    Mar 14, 05:32 AM    #
  52. That looks like a useful gadget. I’m still experimenting with ways of dealing with seam allowance on Burda mag patterns, which are the only seam allowance free ones I’ve used.

    Catherine Daze    Mar 14, 07:29 AM    #
  53. Hi. Right now, I’m hesitating between Burdastyle and My Image Magazine. By the way, have you checked the new patterns from My Image?

    Andrea    Mar 14, 09:46 AM    #
  54. Very cool gadget, I even tried to make my own, but the magnet wasn’t strong enough! I generally only have access to Burda, although some of the Lekala patterns I’ve used didn’t have seam allowances included. But it’s Burda all the way for me.

    — Frances    Mar 14, 10:03 AM    #
  55. My favourite no seam allowance patterns are from Burda Style and Patrones magazines. I’d love to win your giveaway to rescue me from my three pencils and a rubber band solution!

    Gail    Mar 14, 10:31 AM    #
  56. I’ve been wanting one of these since I saw them on Patternreview.com. My favorite no seam allowance company is Burda.

    — Karen M.    Mar 14, 11:57 AM    #
  57. Have resisted buying a double tracing wheel and this is obviously why! My most recent no-seam allowance make was a Fabenmix pattern and I love their quirky patterns. I have a Fabenmix child’s coat pattern waiting to be used for my grand-daughter.

    — Lynn    Mar 14, 01:13 PM    #
  58. U usually join two colored pencils together with a rubber band and trace around the pattern piece, that way I get an even seam allowance, of course this is much more fun. I sew with free patterns from a UK magazine called Prima.

    — Njeri    Mar 14, 01:16 PM    #
  59. I’d love to enter the competition! The only no seam allowance pattern maker I know are Burda, so may I nominate them as my favourite?

    Did You Make That?    Mar 14, 02:06 PM    #
  60. I hope this isn’t regarded as a cheat, but the only ones I have used have been the old Burda envelope patterns from many years ago. However, I’ve downloaded several of the free Lekala patterns to try, so they may become my favourite.

    Sara    Mar 14, 02:43 PM    #
  61. I am a Burda girl too – if only for the unavailability of the others in this neck of the woods.

    erinnb    Mar 14, 02:58 PM    #
  62. Their instructions are maddening. Tracing the patterns makes my eyes cross, but I love my Burda Patterns.

    — Eva    Mar 14, 03:19 PM    #
  63. Very cool. This would be super useful for burda patterns. And I can’t wait to see the top you’re wearing. That neckline looks fab!

    — Katelyn    Mar 14, 03:39 PM    #
  64. Like many others here, I like Burda – it all went a bit rubbish for a while, but they’re back on form!

    — Ruth    Mar 14, 05:27 PM    #
  65. My favorites – Burda and Ottobre magazines! I can’t pick just one, but I’ve sewn far more Burdas than I have the other. Thanks for hosting the give away!

    — Rosanne    Mar 14, 05:49 PM    #
  66. Just converted to Burda since I was able to get a copy of the October 2009 issue w/ a great coat pattern. Btw, they don’t sell those gadgets in the
    States yet that I know of.

    — annie    Mar 14, 06:10 PM    #
  67. I’d love to win one of these! My favourite is Burda, as that is the only one I can get hold of. I would love to try Knip Mode, but I think it is a bit too pricey to have it sent to Sweden!!

    — Maria    Mar 14, 06:38 PM    #
  68. Wow, I would kill for one of these. Have seen the rotary cutter ones but not these ones for scissors! Adding seam allowances drives me insane when tracing Burda patterns.

    Kathryn    Mar 14, 07:30 PM    #
  69. I’m a beginner sewer, and have chosen to use a Burda pattern as my first project, but having to add in seam allowances is a chore. This tool will be really useful.

    — Jenma    Mar 14, 08:00 PM    #
  70. I’ve only really gotten my feet wet with Burda patterns, but something like this would give me one less excuse not to use them more!!

    Alicia    Mar 14, 08:14 PM    #
  71. I sew for my little boy from Ottobre magazines. No seam allowances.

    — Ann    Mar 14, 08:21 PM    #
  72. I’d really love this! Most of the time i do have to add seam allowances, this would be great.

    — Suus    Mar 14, 08:50 PM    #
  73. I love this idea! I make clothes for my gram
    Nds and for me using Ottobre Design patterns. Cute, unique and well drafted, but all require tracing and adding seam allowances ;-)

    Lynda in LV    Mar 14, 08:51 PM    #
  74. Oh wow. What a brilliant idea! If I don’t win, I think I may have to try and make one for myself.

    LornaJay    Mar 14, 10:51 PM    #
  75. I’ve seen these (on PR) but haven’t purchased one yet. I usually just ‘guesstimate’ the seam allowance (yeah! I see 5/8 SA in my dreams or maybe nightmares?)needless to say, I would like to try this seam gauge notion.

    Kemish    Mar 14, 10:58 PM    #
  76. Wow, I just started sewing and this is so cool. This would be useful.

    — Stephanie O    Mar 15, 03:36 AM    #
  77. My favorite no seam allowance pattern is Burda

    — Giselle    Mar 15, 04:24 AM    #
  78. These were only my Christmas list but I never received them. A timely reminder!

    — ChaCha    Mar 15, 05:44 AM    #
  79. I have to say, that in my 20 years sewing time this is one gadget that could have been soooo handy, as I am a Burdaholic and they have never included seam allowances in their pattern. Funnily enough, I am now sewing a Simplicity New Look 6067 – my first proper Simplicity experience – and I am amazed how easy it is to work with the seam allowance in place on the pattern, but surely enough my Burda addiction will take over again soon. I NEED THIS GADGET MELISSA! I REALLY DO, I DESERVE IT! HELP! SOS! GIVE IT TO ME! (….. my preshhhiiious…..) :))))))

    Juliette    Mar 15, 06:58 AM    #
  80. Burda!
    I had seen this gadget in the latest ‘Threads’ magazine and immediately put it on my shopping list. Would love to get one for free. ;)

    — Prachi    Mar 15, 07:10 AM    #
  81. My favorite is Ottobre, but honestly I hate to add seam allowances. Anything that makes it easier is a welcome notion!

    — Cathi    Mar 15, 12:38 PM    #
  82. I have just discovered Ottobre patterns, and your blog. I have already made two items for my granddaughter, and have some cut out for my two grandsons expected soon. That seam allowance guide would be very helpful!

    — Vicky    Mar 15, 01:18 PM    #
  83. Now that there are two extra gadgets it would be rude not to join in! I have only tried Burda magazine patterns, and am not very good at freehand seam allowances.

    — Margaret    Mar 15, 07:46 PM    #
  84. Burda is the one, and actually anything that would make adding seam allowances easier, would be welcome!

    — Piret    Mar 15, 07:50 PM    #
  85. This looks like a great gizmo! My favourite ‘no seam allowances’ patterns would be Patrones. And the ones I draft myself.

    Kim Hood    Mar 15, 09:25 PM    #
  86. I will definitely be using more patterns without seam allowances, if I have a tool like this. My favorite ones are Ottobre

    — Annie    Mar 16, 09:19 AM    #
  87. I love sewing from Burda Style mag patterns, would love to try a different method when sewing their patterns

    Lisette    Mar 16, 11:46 AM    #
  88. Gosh, a favorite would be hard! I love BurdaStyle and Ottobre…and thanks to you I’ve just ordered the whole packet of My Image magazines! I’ve sewn from Ottobre the most though so I guess that would make qualify it as the ‘favorite’. LOVE browsing through Burda every month though…that’s my special treat and why I won’t end my subscription! Thanks for giving me the chance to win this tool as my goal is to start using my TONS of magazines more instead of just starting at them.

    — Levone    Mar 16, 03:42 PM    #
  89. Oh yeah, another Burda lover here. My dad lives in Germany so I get the original magazines a lot; it would be sooo helpful to have a nifty little tool like this!

    Kat    Mar 16, 04:40 PM    #
  90. I sew for my kids a lot—so I will say Ottobre. (But I subscribe to Burda and do a lot of sewing from Japanese sewing books too! I will use these a lot!)

    Bonnie    Mar 16, 08:53 PM    #
  91. I’d love one of these! So far I have only used MyImage and Burda, but I have made a MyImage top twice now, so will sat that is my favourite.

    Tamsin W-P    Mar 16, 09:01 PM    #
  92. The only patterns I’ve used without seam allowances would be Burda, so I guess Burda would have to be my favourite. Although I recently purchased a Japanese pattern book without seam allowances and I’m eager to try some of those patterns out and this little tool would definitely come in handy.

    — Josephine    Mar 17, 10:30 AM    #
  93. Being new to sewing, I’ve only sewn one Burda pattern so far, but I have another printed and ready to be assembled. Would love this tool.

    Ngoc    Mar 19, 03:21 AM    #

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