Does the image above look familiar?
You’ve sewn plenty before- you’ve made tons of things and you love sewing. But for some reason, the above image keeps happening. One thing leads to another, and none of the pieces are lining up and you end up just cutting off a corner of your fabric just so it looks “right.” A friend suggests learning how to walk a sewing pattern but…
Why do you need to “walk” a sewing pattern and what does that even mean?
Learning how to walk a pattern is actually extremely important in the garment sewing process, especially if you’re like me and have to do quite a lot of changes to a sewing pattern. Unfortunately, its not a skill that normally gets discussed and is often overlooked by beginners.
True facts: I didn’t learn about this until I’d been sewing for YEARS and had just learned to ignore it.
The concept of how to walk a sewing pattern is pretty simple:
Each pattern piece has a seam line (the actual stitch line)- and that seam line must match the seam line of the pattern piece next to it.
Practically speaking, after editing your sewing pattern pieces, you have to determine how they match up against the pattern pieces around it for a clean finish. Every seam must match.
Neglecting this step can mean that you’ll have edges that don’t line up, notches that don’t line up, and your garment may end up pulling and skewing from a mismatched seam.
How to Walk a Sewing Pattern
- Draw in seam allowances
- Match up corner of seam allowances with a pencil
- “Follow the line” down the stitch line
- Match up notches
- If notches don’t match determine what sort of notch they are:
- Sewing notches (these notches can be moved around at will, redraw so they match up with corresponding piece)
- Placement/Construction notches ( these notches cannot be moved and must be kept in place. Determine how this notch became skewed and work backward)
- Identification notches (these notches are used to identify front versus back, etc. These can generally be moved)
Walking a Sewing pattern on a Curved Seam
- Measure the seam/stitch line (use a plastic ruler or tape ruler)
- Note the difference of the seam measurements
- Walk the seam
- Address notches as above
The whole pattern walking process is actually fairly quick, but it can make a difference in so many ways. Taking the time to walk a sewing pattern and make sure your changes are accurate can make the difference between a perfectly fitted seam and one that looks like garbage. The difference of 1/4 of an inch here and there snowball- so definitely take the time to practice this and diagnose when a seam doesn’t match!