What is a Seam Allowance?

SEAM ALLOWANCE (SA) - the space between the stitched seam and the raw edge of the fabric. 

What is a Seam Allowance?

There are general guidelines for seam allowances; they vary a bit depending on the project or type of sewing you are doing. Below are some suggested seam allowances. Note: you can adjust the seam allowance as you find necessary for your project but quilting stays true to the 1/4" SA.

  • quilting, 1/4 inch SA
  • craft sewing, 3/8 inch SA
  • home decor & craft sewing, 1/2 inch SA
  • garment sewing, 5/8 inch SA 

Quilting requires a lot of precise sewing. Your seam allowance should be consistent in order to piece together beautiful blocks. It is helpful to use a 1/4 inch presser foot to maintain consistency.

Some sewers believe that 5/8 inch seam allowance is too big for garment sewing and they may adjust the size to 3/8 inch or 1/2 inch. If you choose to reduce the seam allowance, take care to understand how the change may alter the size of your finished garment.

Sew Giving May: Teaching Moms to Sew at Hope House of Colorado

The Sew Giving project for May was teaching young moms how to sew. I was asked by a Regis University student if I would collaborate with her on a school assignment for her intercultural communications class. She was to reach out to a specific demographic of her choice and plan a community service project.

Sewing lesson for young moms at Hope House Colorado

She selected teen moms and wanted them to learn a life skill. I was contacted and we made arrangements to teach teen moms how to sew. I took my sewing machines, notions, and tools to the Hope House of Colorado and taught my Intro to Sewing class to very enthusiastic teen moms. We had fun learning how to operate the sewing machine, how to sew seams, and how to make a drawstring bag. The moms did a super job and were excited about the possibilities of what they could sew next!

Drawstring bags completed in a Sew Giving lesson

If I haven't said this before, I thoroughly enjoy the Sew Giving program I offer at Sew You Studio. Everyone who participates benefits and it just reinforces the goodness of giving!

A Fab Pattern Sale and a Giveaway

There's a great pattern sale going on at The Southern Institute.com! It's called The Sew Fab Pattern Sale: Spring 2014 and it's a great deal for a bundle of 19 different sewing patterns. There's a good mix of projects that will keep you busy sewing for yourself, your kids, or someone you love! Hurry, though! This sale ends on May 13th!

The other exciting part of this pattern bundle sale is the giveaway! There are 2 prize packages to be given away; each filled with great goodies! I have made a cute zip pouch and some pretty bias trim (3 yards of each!) that are included in one of the prize packages. 

Zip Pouch and Handmade Bias Tape by Claudia

For the chance to win 1 of 2 prize packages, go to the Sew Fab Pattern Sale post on The Southern Institute.com and enter! You can enter the giveaway as many times as you want using the Rafflecopter widget and there is no purchase required to win! Best wishes and happy sewing!

Sew Giving April: Baby Bibs

The Sew Giving project for April was baby bibs for a local crisis pregnancy organization: The Gabriel ProjectThis center is committed to supporting pregnant mothers by offering emotional, spiritual, and material assistance. These bibs were lovingly made by my students and we hope they bring smiles to their recipients.


Sewing bibs was a fun project! The girls who participated were able to practice stitching skills along with construction skills. They worked hard and with each completed bib it was very apparent that their skills were developing and improving.

Making a bib at Sew Giving

Sew Giving is open to all Sew You Studio students, past and present! i hope you can join us in May--date and project to be announced soon. 

What's the Most Practical Thread Color When Sewing?

QUESTION: Do you have to match the color of the thread to the fabric?

ANSWER: No, not necessarily. (See below)

neutral thread color gray

In my opinion, colored thread is best used when you want to accent a seam, be artistic or camouflage the stitching. I don't think it's always necessary to match the thread to your fabric. In fact, it's usually more practical to have a good supply of neutral-colored threads on hand because they'll get you through most projects--off-white, black, tan, and gray. 

My favorite color of thread is gray; it's subtle and pretty all at the same time and seems to be a chameleon color as well. Don't get me wrong, I love color! But when it comes to sewing with colorful thread, I reserve it's use for topstitching or any visible stitching. I especially like colored thread if I want to add an accent to my work but most often I use neutral colors. 

So, if you're looking for practicality, go with gray!

You can now purchase classes directly on the Sew You Studio site!

I've been working on updating the Sew You Studio website. You'll find a few new changes, like the class options categorized into Classes for Kids and Classes for Adults. There's also a section for Special Events offered by Sew You Studio. Go check it out!

The most exciting change is that you can now securely purchase your class selection directly from the site! Just visit the class you're interested in and select "ADD TO CART"! I look forward to sewing with you!

Tutorial: How to Make Small Bean Bags

Bean bags have many uses. They can be used as weights, for playing games, as markers on a sports field, and even for therapeutic purposes*. Not all bean bags are filled with beans; there are many things that can be used as filling. Some examples include rice, feed corn, sand, dried lavender, beads. Let's learn how to make bean bags!


Sewing Bean Bags - tutorial

Finished size is about 3" x 3".

1. Gather your materials.



2. Cut the fabric to the desired finished size and add 1 inch to each side for a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Example: to get 3" x 3" finished bean bags, cut fabric 4" x 4". You will need 2 squares for each bean bag.


3. Place 2 squares of fabric right side to right side (RS:RS) and sew all the way around leaving a 1.5 inch section open. This opening will be used for turning the bean bag right-side-out and also for filling the bag.



4. Clip the corners to reduce bulk. Turn right-side-out.



5. Using the funnel, fill the bag with the filling. How much? That depends on how you choose to close the bean bag. If you want to sew the hole closed with the sewing machine, then leave enough space to flatten the edge and get it under the presser foot. If you choose to close by hand sewing, you can fill the bean bag completely leaving no flat sections and sew it closed using the slip stitch.



6. When sewing by machine, use a straight stitch to sew the whole edge that has the opening--make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end. Optional: After sewing the straight stitch, sew a zigzag stitch along the edge to reinforce it and give it some character.


The bean bag is finished!

*These bean bags were the project in March for our donation program Sew Giving. They will be used by the therapists at the Mount Saint Vincent Home.


Here are some ways for using bean bags in the sewing room:

  • as weights to hold down patterns or to hold open a book
  • as markers on top of a pile of fabric or paper patterns to help organize a project
  • as air fresheners when filled with dried lavender flowers (also know as sachets)
  • as neck warmers to sooth a stiff neck after working on a sewing project (if filled with rice, warm the bean bags in the microwave)

Sew Giving March: Bean Bags

The Sew Giving project for March was bean bags for the Mount Saint Vincent Home. This is the same organization that we donated to in February. I found out that they could use bean bags for their therapy services so we made that our project for the month of March! I am glad that we could donate a practical gift. 

The bean bags that we made were not filled with beans but with rice. I'll be posting about the simple process for making bean bags in my next blog post.

Bean Bags

Basic Tips for Sewing a Valentine's Day Card

We made Valentine's Day cards to give to a special organization during our February session of Sew Giving. Here are some basic steps for making your own Valentine's Day cards or cards for any other special occasion. I have included some helpful tips as well.


Sewing Valentine's Day Cards - variety

1. GATHER MATERIALS: card stock (measuring 4" x 5.5"), glue stick, fabric scraps, fabric scissors

Sewing Valentine's Day Cards - Gather Card Making Materials

2. CUT: cut out heart shapes (or desired shapes).

Sewing Valentine's Day Cards - Cut Out Fabric Shapes

3. GLUE: add glue to the wrong side of the fabric shapes and glue them to the card.

Sewing Valentine's Day Cards - Glue Fabric To Card

4. SEW: set your sewing machine to straight stitch or zigzag and sew the fabric shapes to the card stock to secure them. Try to begin and end the sewing on an edge of the paper so that you can tie the threads or easily cut them. If you begin or end sewing in the center of the paper, leave the threads long and bring the top thread to the back and knot.

  • Straight Stitch - I like to increase the stitch length when sewing on paper. Set the stitch length to 3mm-4mm.
  • Zigzag - choose your favorite size zigzag. The stitch width determines how wide side-to-side and stitch length determines how open or closed the zigzags will be.
Sewing Valentine's Day Cards

5. BE CREATIVE: sewing the fabric shapes to the card stock is both decorative and functional. Continue to add stitching to your card as you please. 

Sewing Valentine's Day Cards

6. OPTIONAL: if you want to cover up the stitching on the inside of the card, cut out a piece of card stock, scrapbook paper, or copy paper and glue or sew it to the card.

Sewing Valentine's Day Cards - Finishing Inside of Card

Your card is finished! 

Sew Giving February: Valentine's Day Cards

The Sew Giving project for February was sewing Valentine's Day cards for a local organization. The Valentine's will be given to the children who are part of the residential program at Mount Saint Vincent Home. This organization offers a variety of programs to help children who have been abused, neglected, or traumatized. Children who are part of the residential program, attend school at Mount Saint Vincent Home and receive therapy treatments. They are also offered a variety of fun and enriching opportunities after school and on the weekends. We are happy to get to share our sewn Valentine's Day cards with them and hope that this small gesture of friendship and love is received with smiles.