Review: Seam Allowance Guide

Truth be told, I’m not a gadget person. When I was in culinary school, I had a lovely chef who would always tells us, “if you don’t have it, you don’t need it.” I’ve carried this bit of wisdom throughout my life. It’s amazing how little you really need and what you can do without.  Having said that, I’m not against looking for tools that will aid me. For my school projects, I am constantly adding seam allowances to my working patterns and it can get pretty tiresome. So when Hollie contacted me to review her seam allowance guide, I was pretty jazzed about the idea of a small gadget that could streamline this process. A week later, a package arrived with Hollie’s invention. This product was given to me for free but I want to be clear that it won’t color my review.

For $15 AUS you get two guides, a little instruction card and free international shipping. The guides are about an inch and half long and the circumference of a crayon. They feel really sturdy and have a strong magnet. The guides are different from one another, although you can’t tell straightaway. The yellow guide is for blades with a slope and the green is for blades that are straight (it would be perfect for a rotary cutter. I must emphasize that the yellow only works with blades with a gentle slope. Unfortunately my favorite scissors have a very steep slope and the yellow guide will never lie parallel to the table. See how it tilts down?

So my only option with my Kai’s is to position the green guide way back at the pivot. This is fine for long, straight seams but wouldn’t work for curves like a neckline.

In order to get the most use from the seam allowance guide, I need to switch to my backup scissors. This pair has a gentler slope and you just stick the guide on the blade and twist until it’s flush with the table. Once on, you just follow a few easy steps to align the black band to your desired seam allowance and cut away! I’d recommend watching Hollie’s video the first time as it helps to clarify the process. Something to keep in mind (this may be a deal breaker for some of you), is that you must cut in one direction – clockwise for you right handers and counterclockwise for the lefties. If you don’t have a table that you can easily walk around, this may cause some problems.

Sadly, I don’t see myself pulling out the seam allowance guide for its traditional use because of my scissors. My backups are from Mundial and are beasts! More than a few minutes cutting with these and my wrists begin to ache. Since I overuse my wrists at my day job, I try to be careful the rest of the time so that I don’t end up with serious problems later on.

Having said that, these little guides are useful in other ways! I find that the more uses I have for a tool, the more likely I am to keep it around. Something that I absolutely abhor is trimming seams. I can never maintain a consistent trim and I’ve started to use these guides during this process. It took a little dexterity but once I got the hang of it, I was really pleased with the result.

I’ve also been experimenting with adding it to pencils and other marking devices. So far, I haven’t found anything that has enough magnetic pull but I’m sure it’s out there. Do you have these seam allowance guides? If so, have you come up with any alternative uses?

If you’d like to pick up your own pair, you can order directly from Hollie at seamallowanceguide.com!

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17 Responses to “Review: Seam Allowance Guide”

  1. Oh good review! I never thought about the curve of the blades- you’ve saved me some frustration.

  2. Thanks for that review. I’ve been seeing these around and wondered about them. I think having to cut in one direction would be a deal breaker for me, so thanks for saving me the $$ and frustration of trying them out for myself!

  3. I think this is the best method I’ve tried yet:

    http://off-the-cuff-style.blogspot.com/2009/11/how-to-add-seam-allowances-to-traced.html

    It’s a little trick to get corners right, so I draw those in. Still, so much faster than tracing the entire garment.

    PS: When were you in culinary school? You’re a woman of many talents. 🙂 I used to live in SF and always dreamed about taking those Apparel Arts courses, but now I’m in OR getting an MFA.

    • My parents encouraged me to go to a trade school after high school. I chose culinary on a whim. I have a wonderful habit of being attracted to enthusiasm and passion and sometimes it can be hard to distinguish whether I’m passionate about the subject or just caught up in the joy. Culinary school was just that. I had such a wonderful time while in school but when it came to the career I just didn’t have the real passion to sustain me.
      I’ve seen that technique but haven’t tried it yet. After drafting, I don’t always have the paper space around the pattern so I would need to retrace it before.

  4. I haven’t used the seam allowance guides but I might pick up a pair for trimming seam allowance. I, like you, can never seem to cut straight when cutting only one seam allowance. This may solve that problem and prevent horrid looking sesames.

  5. Thanks for the review! I’m not much of a gadget person either – but I’m always curious about whats out there.

  6. nice gadget. I don’t own many gadgets but this could be very useful.

  7. I purchased them and the green one works fine with my scissors (no slant). I find them very helpful for Burda Magazine patterns – which constitue most of my pattern collection.
    I’m pretty pleased with them but I could see how it would be disapointing if your scissors don’t work with them. The clockwise cutting hasn’t bothered me too much, I’d be curious to see if they could be adapted to rotary cutters…

  8. Interesting review. I think this is a clever little invention. I like putting the right SAs on the pattern rather than the fabric, although I know a lot of people learned to add them in on the fabric from Burda magazines. But I love those Kai scissors! I bought some last year and oh my, they are so much easier on my hands. I got a mild case of carpal tunnel from my previous scissors. (Do you ever need to oil yours? For some reason mine have been making this squeaky noise lately, which doesn’t go away when I loosen the bolt.)

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