Mastering Seam Allowances on Your Sewing Machine: 5 Top Tips and the Magic of Washi Tap

Posted by Freya Gilbert
on May 07, 2023

Sewists know that achieving professional-looking garments hinges on precision and attention to detail.

One crucial aspect of sewing is the seam allowance—the distance between the stitching line and the raw edge of the fabric. While it may seem like a small detail, mastering seam allowances can make a world of difference in the final outcome of your projects. In this blog post, we'll explore five top tips to help you perfect your seam allowances, and we'll also introduce a handy tool, washi tape, to make it even easier.


close up of a sewing machine with fabric on it


  1. Understand the Purpose of Seam Allowances: Seam allowances provide room for adjustments, finishing techniques, and ensure that the fabric doesn't fray or unravel. Most patterns suggest a standard seam allowance of 5/8" (1.6 cm), but it's always crucial to check the instructions for the specific pattern you're working on, as they may vary.

  2. Invest in a Seam Guide: To maintain consistent seam allowances, consider investing in a seam guide. Seam guides attach to your sewing machine and act as a visual reference point, helping you sew accurate lines without having to constantly measure and mark the fabric. Some machines come with built-in guides, while others allow you to purchase additional accessories. Explore the options available and find the one that suits your machine and sewing style best.

  3. Take Advantage of Markings on Your Machine: Many sewing machines have markings on the throat plate or presser foot that indicate common seam allowances. These markings can be incredibly useful, especially if you're just starting or working with multiple seam allowances in a single project. Familiarize yourself with these markings and use them as a guide while stitching. However, keep in mind that not all machines have these markings, so don't rely solely on them.

  4. Employ the Power of Washi Tape: Washi tape, a decorative adhesive tape made from Japanese rice paper, can be a game-changer when it comes to sewing precise seam allowances. Simply apply the tape to your machine's throat plate, aligning it with the desired seam allowance. The tape provides a visible and tactile guide for your fabric, making it easier to maintain consistent seam widths. Washi tape is easily removable and leaves no residue, so you can switch between different seam allowances as needed.

  5. Test and Adjust: Before sewing your actual project, it's always a good idea to test your seam allowance settings. Take a scrap piece of fabric and stitch a seam using the chosen allowance. Measure the seam width to ensure it matches your desired specifications. If necessary, make adjustments to your machine settings or the position of the seam guide or washi tape. This simple practice will save you from potential frustration and rework later on.


Mastering seam allowances is a fundamental skill for any sewist striving for professional-looking garments. By understanding the purpose of seam allowances and employing these top tips, you'll be well on your way to sewing precise and beautiful seams. The addition of washi tape to your sewing toolbox will enhance your accuracy and make it easier to achieve consistent results. So, grab your fabric, thread your machine, and let your newfound seam allowance mastery shine through your sewing projects!

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