trick: anchoring seam-allowances

Remember my printed dress that I fixed up? It’s only been a few days, so I’m assuming yes. I mentioned that I anchored the seam-allowances together, and I wanted to expand on that!


This is a technique I’m finding myself using more and more – most recently in this printed friday-fixed dress, and also the gathered sundress from before Christmas. Basically, it is sewing the seam-allowances together at strategic points to keep the lining (or some other layer, like an inner structural bodice for example) in place.

I find I use this trick when the lining is hanging free, sewn together to the outside fabric only at the neckline (and sometimes at the sleeve hems). This construction method means that the lining moves pretty independently of the outside fabric at many points, and that’s not always something I want. For example, I really like the waist-seams to be attached to each other and move as one, and not start bunching or twisting!

Ok, let’s do some visuals:


This is the side-seam of the skirt, where I attached the seam-allowances of the skirt and the lining together. It’s a good idea to make sure the seam allowances are facing the same direction (usually towards the back) on both layers. Hang the dress up, or lay it out as it would normally hand, and then reach in and pinch the seam-allowance where you’re sewing it together before turning it inside out.


This is the side-seam of the skirt again, just a larger view. After pinching the seam-allowance together, you’ll have the lining to one side and the outside fabric to the other. It might look a little strange, but as long as you did the pinching while the garment was hanging like normal, it’ll be fine. Do keep an eye out for draglines  – I like to sew the one side, pin the other, then hang it up to see if something weird is going on. Fix, and proceed.


I didn’t sew the seam-allowances together all the way down, since I want the hem to be moving on its own. Also, notice how I stitched pretty much in the middle of the seam-allowance (which is a lot narrower for the lining that I just overlocked, but same principle!).


I also did the waist-seam. In this picture we’re looking at the skirt lining at the top, and the inside of the self-faced bodice closest to us. I made sure all the waist seam- allowances faced down, then stitched for a few centimeters right at the middle, center front and center back. The lining layer was slightly smaller than the outside, so I only did a small section so they wouldn’t pull and make draglines. In a sturdier fabric where the lining matches perfectly, I’d go ahead and sew a larger section.


I made a little illustration to further show where I’d use this technique (at least on a dress – a tailored jacket uses this many places, but that’s a post of its own!). I used it two places on this dress; at the side seam and the waist seam. If the lining layer had sleeves attached to it, like a fully lined jacket for example would have, I would also want to attach the seam-allowances at the top of the shoulders. With this particular printed dress I actually sandwiched the sleeves between the outer fabric and the lining layer, so they were all anchored and secured by that.

I hope this made sense, and can be helpful – feel free to ask any questions!