GRADING SEAMS – Sewing Bulky Seams Tutorial

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Grading seams involve cutting the seam allowance at different widths so that when your project is pressed to the right side it eliminates bulk and results in a flat seam that sits nicely.

Grading seams, grade seamsPinGrading Seams


Grading Seams That are BulkyGrading Seams InstructionsGrading Seams with IntersectionsGrading Seams – In ConclusionMore Sewing for Beginners

Grading Seams That are Bulky

Are you having problems sewing bulky seams? Grading Seams is especially important when you are sewing thicker fabrics in your Winter sewing patterns and it will make your sewing projects look more professional.

When sewing, grading seams only needs to be done where you will be pressing the seam to one side or in an area such as a collar, that will be turned right side out. It is not necessary for straight seams that will be pressed open.

Grading Seams Instructions

Start by sewing your seam as per the instructions in your sewing pattern.  This seam had a seam allowance of ½ inch (12mm).

Grade the seam by trimming one of the layers of seam ⅛ inch (3mm) narrower than the other.

In this example, I had 2 layers so I left the outside seam allowance at ½ inch (12mm) and trimmed the other at ⅜ inch (1cm).

grading seamsgrading seamsPinGrading Seams with 2 layers

When grading seams where you have more than 2 layers, grade the seams to 3 different layers.

You may need to grade a couple of layers to the same width so you are not cutting right back to the seam allowance.

Grading seamsGrading seamsPinGrading Seams with 3 Layers

Once you have graded the seam you can press it to one side. I always like to press so that the wider layer is on top and covers the narrower layers underneath.

Grading Seams with Intersections

Where you have 2 seams that intersect such as the underarms area, trim the ends of the seam into a point to reduce bulk.

This way when you press the seam open, there is not 4 layers at the intersection of the 2 seams.

Grading intersecting seamsGrading intersecting seamsPinGrading Intersecting Seams

Here you can see how it looks when the seam is graded at an intersection. This will sit much flatter in your final product.

grading seams that intersectgrading seams that intersectPinGrading Intersecting Seams

Grading Seams – In Conclusion

So next time you need so sew a thick seam or intersecting seam, take a little extra time to trim and grade the seam for a professional result that will also be much more comfortable to wear.

What are you planning on sewing this season? Do you have any extra tips for sewing bulky seams?

More Sewing for Beginners

If you are a beginner, here are some more popular articles to get you sewing.

Clipping Corners and CurvesHow to Use a Sewing MachineSewing CornersSewing CurvesSewing 101 for Beginners

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