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How Do You Mark Notches?

How do you mark notches? This question came up when I was cutting fabric for a mock-up at work. I, like I always do, marked the notches by cutting a slit halfway into the seam allowance. My coworker, however, suggested that I cut exterior triangles (the triangle would point away from the pattern) on the perimeter of the pattern that would be trimmed off after sewing. Her reasoning was legit – marking notches her way prevents from cutting too far into the seam allowance and sometimes into the actual garment. Even though it is a better way to work, I have stuck to marking notches with slits for no other reason than habit but maybe I should consider a change. How do you mark your notches? Do you cut exterior or interior triangles or do you cut slits? Maybe you have a completely different method of cutting notches that I’ve never heard of. Please do share…


  1. Reply


    In most cases I mark notches with the chalk/invisible markers. I saw my grandmother doing this when I was little and I unconsciously use it as well. In my sewing school, we are taught to do the same as you – clip the halfway into the seam allowance. But working with silks or other delicate fabrics, I am afraid of cutting too deep into the garment. So chalk works best for me. Another way of marking notches – leaving pins as marking points.

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      Invisible marker is a good idea. I use it for various other things but wouldn’t have thought to use it for marking notches. Thanks!

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    I do the same as you and cut into the seam allowance. Sometimes I just mark them with pins but then when I start sewing they can get in the way.

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      I feel your frustration – pins get in the way.

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    I always cut slits too to mark notches, it’s the most practical way! Sometimes I mark with pins too when I forgot to mark the notches when cutting the pieces. With more fragile fabric, I use washable fabric marker. Pattern pieces for underwear are very small and has lots of notches, so invisible marker is the best way 🙂

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      My next sewing project is lingerie so your tip on using invisible marker for marking notches on these type of patterns/garment is a great tip. Thanks.

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    I’ve clipped into the seam allowance for decades. I’m careful not to clip too far and I’m never had a problem. I use a rotary cutter and I can’t even imagine trying to cut outside Vs with a rotary cutter. Another reason, I trace all my patterns and I’d have to take the time to trace the outside Vs first. Way too much effort.

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      When my coworker suggested making outside/exterior V notches, that’s exactly what I thought – that it would take way too much time and effort. If I’m careful while marking, clipping into the seam allowances is just as effective and so much easier.

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      I actually use the outside V method. I use chalk or disappearing marker to mark my V’s. I also use a rotary cutter and I don’t have an issue cutting them. I find the outside V method easier for me to match the pattern pieces when sewing.

  5. Reply

    Elle C

    I have cut a slit into the seam allowance since I got a rotary cutter and mat, but I recently got a pattern notcher thingy from Nancy`s Notions and I love it. It ain`t cheap, but for me it is worth it. Here is a link for the new toy 8-).


    • Reply


      That thing looks awesome! Thanks for the link.

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    I used to cut out little “v”s into the seam allowance for my notches – or – because I was lazy, chalk mark them. But I recently started cutting my “v”s out, like your coworker suggested. I actually like it much better! I feel like it takes much less time and somehow is more accurate ?

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      How do you cut out the outside V’s? I would do it but it seems likes more work

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    Oh, I just cut slits into the seam allowance. I didn’t really know how to freehand cut notches outside the pattern– it always seemed like it would be inaccurate to me.

    • Reply


      That’s exactly my problem, I don’t know how to go about cutting exterior/outside V notches. Interior/inside V notches I can do, they’re self explanatory, but i hesitate with exterior/outside V notches.

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    I have used slits, but sometimes they blend in too well and I have a hard time locating them. So lately I’ve cut a small v notch into the seam allowance. It’s easy to spot and easy to make even after I’ve cut all the pieces out.

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    I need to take up sewing…

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    I use a pattern notcher to notch my paper patterns, and then I trace, usually using chalk or soap (I prefer soap, it goes away easily when you need it to, plus it’s a nice way to use up that last sliver of the soap bar!). I’ve never had a problem with fragile fabrics fraying, but I guess I’d just snip a very small notch.

    I think outwards triangles would really slow me as I’m cutting – right now I cut, and after each continous line, I go back and make sure I snip the notches on that side. There is a rythm to is I guess!

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      I’ve never heard of using a bar of soap as chalk. What a great idea.

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      I tried using soap, but it didn’t mark clearly. Either the fabric wouldn’t take the color, or I couldn’t get enough of an edge on the soap and the lines were broad and inaccurate.

      I used a chalk/washable pencil (or a real pencil if I don’t care about leaving marks). I was taught to do the outside triangles, but it took too long and, therefore I was inaccurate with it.

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    I’m another chalk marker. I just add some lines where it’s needed. It’s pretty easy, but that hole puncher seam marker sure looks cool.

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    Rochelle New

    I draw the triangles to the inside with chalk. No cutting involved, and it takes the same amount of time to do if you’re tracing your patterns anyways. 🙂

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    I cut little slits, even in tiny seam allowances. (I the outside triangles for years, though, as that’s how older commercial patterns used to look before they were multi-sized, but ha, the less corners I have to cut, the better!) If the sa is small or fabric super ravel-y I’ll mark a chalk dot near the edge. I love those pattern notchers!

    Hope you had a great trip!

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    I draw them outwards as I’m tracing and then cut them that way as well; better safe than sorry 😉

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    Chalk or pins. Usually pins ’cause they’re most likely to be on hand when I’m already pinning pattern pieces to fabric. For some reason I dislike having to clip with scissors. Maybe I’m just too lazy to go find my scissors. I think laziness dictates most of choices when I’m sewing.

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    Sewing Princess

    I never marked notches because they are hardly there in Burda patterns and I was not taught in my sewing course. I find notches are more present in US/UK patterns. So…I can happily do without actually although I find them useful. When there are notches I snip into the seam allowance.
    Ah, and I also use soap instead of chalk…it’s much more flexible.

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    I’m pretty snip-happy when it comes to notches. In school they always taught knits have the outward triangle ones but they’re a PITA to cut around.

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    That is one very overpriced notcher. This place has the same thing for $12 http://www.pgmdressform.com/pattern-making-supplies-pattern-making-tools-c3_75/pattern-notcher-steel-design-801a-p90.html No affliation.

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    I’ve been sewing for about 7 decades. My great-grandfather was a prominent tailor in the city where I was born (but we moved, so I never saw his shop or how he worked — only knew that sewing is in my DNA). My mother taught me to sew and also taught other women in adult evening class for many years. She always clipped actual V-shaped notches into the seam allowance, and I followed suit. In HS home ec classes, I had to change this habit and cut outward as shown in the first example above, but as soon as I was out of home ec, I went back to my mother’s method. As an exhuberant teen-age sewist, I did manage to cut huge notches in the SA of some flannel pajamas — that left holes in the seams after stitching. After that boo-boo, I was always more careful.

    Today I cut very small slits into the SA (tho I might use a marker if I were sewing something like silk brocade, fine chiffon, or similar). Have never had a problem since that first goof when I was in my teens.

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