What Are Notches In Sewing: Types And Uses

Last Updated on 6 months by Susan Mayrich

The answer to what are notches in sewing is that they refer to the wedges you cut on the seam allowance. To further help you understand these cuts, we will also discuss their different kinds. 

what are notches in sewing

This article even includes where you put notches and how to use them. They are often found in garments, so those looking to sew clothing often must know what notches are. 

We recommend browsing our blog if you’re new to sewing as you’ll learn not just notches but even other practices. For example, read about what is understitching in sewing, which is also often used in garments. 


What Are Notches In Sewing Of Garments?

Notches refer to the wedges you cut into the garment’s seam allowance. This allows the sewer to match and sew the seams accordingly when constructing the clothing. 

Without the notches, it can be hard to determine which parts go together to form the seam of the garment. 


Why notches are used in sewing

Notches are used in sewing to mark the components of the project, typically garments, and ensure that you can construct each seam after removing the patterns. Remember that you will remove the pattern once you cut the pieces for it, so constructing the project together can become trickier.

Therefore, the sewer should transfer the notches from the pattern onto the material to avoid the hassle of mismatched front and back pieces. There is also nothing to worry about the notches’ effect on the finished clothing since they will be hidden inside. 


Front notches vs back notches

Front notches are those placed on front pieces and are marked with a single notch. On the contrary, back notches are what you’ll use on the back pieces of the garment, and you mark them with double notches.  


Clipping vs notching

Clipping refers to making small cuts on the seam allowance perpendicular to the fabric edge. Clips are used to relieve strain on the seams, typically on projects with a concave turn that you will turn right side out. 

On the other hand, notching will have you cut out the fabric and not just snip it like clipping. It is also commonly used on convex curves, marking garments, and even reducing bulk. 

One can say that clipping is more common in industrial sewing. 


What Are The Different Types Of Notches?


Pattern notches

Pattern notches are the notches printed on the edges of the pattern. They can either be single or double notches and are used to help the sewer determine which are the center front and center back pieces of the pattern. 

Having pattern notches is especially helpful if you’re constructing a garment with multiple pieces that look alike. Putting notches on the cutting edges of the pattern will also allow stretching much easier because you are cutting off wedges from the fabric. 


Center notches

Center notches, from the name itself, are notches cut in the centers of the garment. You can also cut these V-shaped wedges on the project’s folds to help you determine the center and grain. 

You can match the center notches to ensure that the clothing will be on the grain perfectly. Therefore, you commonly make them on the center of the facing, collar, neckline, or hem. 

Please read what is grainline in sewing because it’s essential when cutting fabrics, especially for garments. 


Where Are Notches Used?

  • To match and align the garment seams
  • For aligning clothing sleeves
  • For transferring the seam allowance from the pattern into the fabric
  • For corners to serve as a guide when constructing the pieces after they are cut
  • As a guide for the sewing machine needle to ensure that you’re sewing at the correct distance from the fabric edge
  • To differentiate front and back pieces, especially when working with numerous ones
  • For marking tucks, pleats, and gathers, and keep them distributed perfectly 


Do You Cut Notches In Sewing Patterns?

You cut notches in sewing patterns, which is different from clipping where you only snip the material. You will cut off the wedges inward or outward, depending on what you’re comfortable with. 


How to cut sewing notches

Cutting the notches outward is the preferred method as the user is at a lower risk of cutting too far into the seam. Furthermore, beginners can easily spot outward notches, and they will overlap perfectly once you finish your seam. 

However, you can also choose to cut the notches inward if you want to save time. Just be extra careful not to cut too far into the seam allowance and risk fabric fraying


How Do You Use Pattern Notches?

Make notches at each corner of the pattern, then use them as your guide to know the seam allowance on each fabric piece edge. You can also use a pattern notcher that cuts a channel over the notches to mark them on your fabric much more quickly. 



And that’s it! To recap what are notches in sewing, they refer to the wedges you cut inward or outward to help align the seams, typically after cutting the pieces of a garment. 

This way, you can still match the seams perfectly even after removing the pattern. There is also a so-called center notch, which sewers use for determining the center or grain.

We hope this was an informative read. Leave us a comment if you have any questions. 

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