Taming Bulky Seam Allowances - Part 1

Here's a sneak peek at some of the new wool fabrics for fall. The picture is black and white because I don't want to give everything away just yet! New fabrics will begin to appear in the shop in just a few more weeks. I'm very excited!

Not too long ago when I designing knits specifically for fashion designers, late summer was the time to finish up Fall/Winter fabric designs, even though the new fabrics (and fashions) wouldn't be seen in public for at least another year. Creating designs for my own small line is very different. I work on designs that will be "revealed" in the not to distant future. I love the immediacy of it.

This fall I'm introducing a couple of weights of sweater knits. There'll be medium weight sweater knits, similar in gauge to the color grown cotton fabrics. I'm also excited to introduce something a bit heavier, closer in weight to the fisherman knits and honeycomb cotton I had in the shop for a little while. The new fabrics will be wool -- super warm, lovely wool.

From past posts and from some of my custom knits last winter, you may have figured out that I really enjoy bulky sweater knits. Yes, bulky knits can be successfully sewn on a standard sewing machine with very good results. Here's one technique I've found useful in taming bulky seam allowances. I'll present more in future posts. If you have a special technique you use for heavy fabrics, I'd love to hear it.

Clipping and zigzagging corners

When there's an intersection of bulky seams, such as under the arms of a heavy jacket, it can be difficult to sew. The worst part is that the thick seam allowance will show on the right side, spoiling the look of the garment. Clipping corners helps tremendously. You've probably clipped corners on numerous projects, but it's so very important with a heavy sweater knit.
Top of diagram is the back of a cardigan.
The yellow corners are clipped before sewing the sleeve and side seams. Now here's the important part. In order to prevent fraying of the sweater knit and to help keep the seam allowance in place, I do one more thing. I zigzag the clipped corner.

The zigzag is sewn in what eventually becomes the seam allowance of the side seam, so it makes the side seam easier to sew, too. More importantly, no more bulky underarms!

Last update 08May2016 to remove expired info


  1. Great tip. I'm sewing a crazy bulky scuba-esque double cotton Japanese knit at the moment - it's a learning curve!

    1. Sometimes cotton does squish down for sewing as easily as wool. Good luck with that fabric! I know you'll make something fabulous!


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