Let me show you how I did the scallops on my Scallop Skirt – this way is quicker, easier, and gets better results than the methods I’ve seen in sewing books.
First of all you cut a straight hem, not a scalloped one! Cut your hem and hem facing about 1cm longer than the finished edge of the lowermost part of the scallop:
It might pay to apply some lightweight fusing to the hem and/or facing to reinforce. Some fabrics (eg loosely woven ones) will need this and some may not, and make sure the fusing does not cause unwanted stiffness.
Now chalk the outline of your scallop directly onto the wrong side of your cloth, using sharp chalk for an accurate line:
My pattern is made of card so this was easy, but if you have a tissue pattern you could make a card template from it. Or use another transfer method like a tracing wheel and Simplicity tracing paper – do they still make that stuff? What we are interested in is the stitching line, not the cutting line:
With your hem and hem facing right sides together, stitch along the chalk line – or more accurately, stitch on the inner edge of the chalk line right where the edge of the pattern was. Check your stitching is accurate and that your scallops are all the same size and shape, now is the time to adjust them if they are a bit wonky!
Once your scallops are stitched the seam allowance can then be cut down to 6mm (1/4″) around each scallop.
Clip into the point between each scallop with sharp scissors. Clip to within 1mm of the stitching, or further away if your fabric is loosely woven and fraying is a concern. You need to clip close enough for the point to turn properly though:
Now – most books will tell you to notch into the seam allowance of each scallop several times, just like I’ve done above – but that takes forever. Which is OK if you have forever, but when you are impatient like me it is not. I tried that technique to compare with my method – I found that I needed to cut tons of notches to prevent the scallop looking angular, and even then it was fiddly to turn and press to maintain the curve between the notches, and to avoid steam burning your fingers. If I did my skirt hem that way it could take a couple of hours!
|Trying again with tons of notches…|
Instead I chose to do what we usually do in RTW production for convex curves – I trimmed the seam allowance down to around 3mm (1/8″) at the height of the curve, it takes 2 seconds:
|The quick and easy way!|
I only trimmed where necessary, leaving the full seam allowance intact near the clip. As you trim hold the shears at an angle to automatically bevel the edges.
When you turn the scallop through, the curve practically forms itself and is smooth and angle-free. The raw edges of the smaller seam allowance mould themselves evenly into position. Pressing is quicker and less hazardous. Time taken was ten minutes.
|The two scallops on the left had their seam allowances notched, and are angular in appearance. The two on the right had their seam allowances trimmed, and are smooth.|
Try it next time you do scallops, or any convex curve for that matter – collars, cuffs, jacket front hem curves – and hopefully you’ll have better results like I did!
Fraying isn’t usually a problem on enclosed seams like this, but the risk can be reduced by understitching or topstitching. Understitching by machine isn’t really possible on small scallops, but can be done by hand. I chose to topstitch instead!
Some readers asked for topstitching hints – but I don’t really have many! My main tip would be to sew at a speed where you have good control. For these scallops I sewed slowly and used the handwheel a lot! For 5-6mm topstitching like this I line the edge of the fabric up with the edge of my presser foot, and watch the fabric edge rather than the needle. It helps with straight feeding and speed if I place a finger up next to the foot/fabric edge and hold it there while sewing, a bit like a compensating foot.
Maybe some readers have topstitching tips that would help me – if so, be sure to leave them in the comments below!
And happy scallop sewing from now on!
By the way, Mother Nature has got back at me after I noted we were having a warm winter in a recent post – we awoke this morning to a chilly 6C and most skifields now have enough snow to open for the season, plus I’m now wearing my ski socks around the house…
And have you entered the Seam Allowance Guide giveaway yet?