What Are Notches & How They Are Used In Sewing

There are many different techniques to know in sewing which can be used on many different projects. One of the most popular hobbies in sewing is sewing clothing and with that comes some unique techniques and terms that may be a little confusing to learn at first.

Within this article, I am going to talk about notches, what they are and what they are used for in sewing.

What are Notches?

Notches are wedges or clips that are cut into a seam allowance on a piece of fabric to allow easy matching and joining of two pieces of fabric when making a cloth.

They are usually triangle-shaped cuts or little markings put on the fabric being worked on which might seem unnecessary at first but is always worth it in the end.

Components of fabrics must be pieced together such that their patterns match so notches come in handy. Each seam of the fabric has to be easy to put together and this only happens when the fabric patterns are marked.

While sewing, fabric pieces would be cut, and if there are no notches on them, putting the right pieces in the right places could be tough, especially for people with little sewing experience.

What Are Notches Used For?

Notches have different uses when sewing but, in a nutshell, they are used to take note of some exact spots on a piece of fabric so they can be correctly attached to another part of the cloth. Some common uses of notches are to;

Match complicated style lines and differentiate between the front and back pieces of fabric.

If the fabric one is working with is complicated, it goes without saying that there would a need for some sort of guide to help the person ensure the pieces of clothing join at the right place and a notch would help achieve that.

Also, it would be good to indicate what pieces of clothing would be used for the front and the ones that would be used for the back. One can place single notches on the fabric pieces meant for the front, and double notches on the fabric pieces meant for the back.

Align and correctly sew sleeves

When making sleeved shirts, the sleeves have to be attached to the body in a way that makes them match correctly with the pattern of the fabric. If not, the finished work would end up looking awkward or slightly “off”.

Notches help tailors or seamstresses achieve great sewing results and make work easier for them.

Mark pleats, tucks, and gathers

If one wants pleats on a skirt or dress to be even then notches have to be used. Marking notches at the beginning of every fold line would bring about fast and accurate pleat alignment.

The process for tucks is similar to that of pleats. For gathers, one has to use spaced notches so the gathers can be distributed evenly.

What Do Notches Look Like?

There are two main types of notches, some are triangular-shaped and some are “T”-shaped. The triangular-shaped notches are mostly used on commercial-patterned clothes and are commonly used by non-professional tailors or seamstresses.

Novices preferred this type of notch because they are easy to see when it is time to use pins of the fabric. These triangle notches have to be cut in a V-shaped wedge to get the desired outcome.

They take more time to cut and one has to be extra careful to make sure not to cut into the seam line. The two ways to cut triangle notches; both inward and outward.

T-shaped notches are two criss-cross lines, where one extends from the edge of the fabric to the seam allowance and the other intersects it and reaches some distance into the seam allowance to mark how far into the fabric one can cut.

T-shaped notches are easy to draw and are used mostly during the large-scale production of clothes.

How Are Notches Used in Sewing?

Notches are made by cutting them into the fabric with help of a paper pattern that is already designed and marked for that purpose or cardboard.

Pin the cloth to the cardboard or paper pattern such that the edges align, locate the place you need the notch to be on the fabric, and mark out the triangle shape on the corresponding place on the cardboard or paper pattern.

Carefully cut out that shape with a pair of scissors to give the notch you need.

The process is the same for a double-notch or a T-shaped notch. Use small sharp scissors for this because large scissors can make you make mistakes and overcut the fabric.