Seam Allowance Guide Review

As you know, three lucky people are going to win a Seam Allowance Guide on Saturday. The lovely lady who provided this offer asked me to do a quick review – so here you are.

The simplest ideas are often the best, as Handmade Jane commented about The Pyjama Party. She ain’t wrong, people! She’s right! (Handmade Jane is always right.)

The Seam Allowance Guide is one of those fabulously simple but successful ideas that makes you slap your head and scream, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ I have only one issue with The Seam Allowance Guide – it doesn’t have a snappy name. You know, the kind of thing that enters common parlance with the shake of a lamb’s tail. Hoover, Tupperware, Aspirin … The Seam Allowance Guide. Nah, it’s not tripping off the tongue. What should it be?

  • The Seamolator!
  • Seams Simple (Step away from the alliteration, Karen.)

For the purposes of this blog post, I’ll call it the Dooda. Let me know if you have any great ideas for names! (Assuming you’re happy for the producer to run off and use your genius idea gratis, should she choose to do so.)

Okay, so in your package come two Doodas. One green; one yellow. The yellow one is ever so slightly angled for a blade that has a slope; the green one is for a straight blade. My shears are straight:

Now, I’m left handed. The Dooda’s website suggests you place the magnetic Dooda on the left blade and cut fabric in an anti-clockwise movement. Nah, mate. That way, my Dooda disappears beneath the fabric as I cut and I can’t see what I’m doing. I’ll do what left handers have been doing since the dawn of time: adapting myself to a right handed world as all left handers have learnt to do since birth BECAUSE WE ARE BRILLIANT GENIUSES IN A CRUEL RIGHT-HANDED WORLD AND DOESN’T EVERYONE KNOW LEFT HANDERS ARE CREATIVE TYPES! Discuss.

Moving on! It doesn’t really matter one way or another, because both my blades are pretty much the same size. I attach my Dooda to the right hand blade.

Next, pin your Burda pattern to your fabric and chalk a mark 15mm from the edge. This is the only chalk mark you’ll need to make. Oh, the relief!

Then take your scissors and place the cutting edge above the chalk mark. Your Dooda will have a small, malleable black ring around it. Adjust the ring to sit in a ridge that lines up with the edge of your pattern.

Start cutting! It’s that simple. You will automatically create a 15mm seam allowance. Isn’t that clever? One point I should make about tricky cutting out details:

Simply slip your Dooda down your blade to the tip, to keep cutting accurately around fiddly bits like these.

If I was cutting out something that needed extreme accuracy, I probably wouldn’t use my Dooda – simply because I wouldn’t use scissors, I’d use a rotary blade.

But the Dooda couldn’t be more simple or more effective. I think this is my excuse to make a third Burda sleeveless blouse, don’t you?

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33 Responses to Seam Allowance Guide Review

  1. wow! that looks like a great tool, I hope to be the lucky winner on Saturday 🙂 It must be great to eliminate long sessions of chalk marking!

  2. makeitgiveit says:

    fab I do hope I win one. what a simple but clever idea – saves me doing it by eye which is NEVER accurate!

  3. Miriana says:

    I love your blog because of your wonderful writing style that always puts a smile on my face – thanks Karen!

  4. Anne W says:

    I add my seam allowances to the pattern straight away. I never use chalk. But a nifty gadget for those who do, nonetheless.

  5. Roobeedoo says:

    Well who knew eh? What a clever Dooda!
    And a third Burda blouse? Is it about to overtake the Sorbetto or the Pendrell in the Karen-endorsement stakes?

  6. Pipany says:

    Oh I love it!! What a fantastic gadget. Thanks for sharing x

  7. Alice says:

    Love this little dooda. I tend to add seam allowances to the pattern first (to avoid cutting my precious fabric wrong) but that still involves A LOT of time with a ruler and a pencil and who wants that? Not me. So if I win (and let’s be honest, even if I don’t I will be buying one) I shall be sticking it on my paper scissors. Sorry ruler. 🙂

  8. Pipany (thank you Pipany) just wrote to me and told me about this – what a wonderful idea! I’d seen it a few months ago on an American blog, but at that time, from memory, the supplier looked like it was associated with a television programme QVC style, which put me off and made me wonder whether it really worked – so it’s lovely to read your review and find that in reality it’s completely wonderful! Thank you, Karen – what a cheerful thing to find out on a rainy Thursday morning!

    Florence x

  9. Wendy says:

    This looks super handy for all those European magazine patterns without the seam allowances in them.
    I am also left-handed, and always cut clockwise. It’s just the superior way of doing it, obviously!! Creative indeed?!

  10. It certainly does look like a great gadget. And of course I like the bright colours.

  11. Robin says:

    I can use all the help I can get! this looks like a very handy seaminator. I watch Phineas and Ferb with my grandson….everything gadget ends in -inator.

  12. auntychacha says:

    Simple but effective. Surely a winner gadget?!

  13. Lynn says:

    I’ve seen this on another blog but sadly I didn’t win one! So good to have another chance! They are a great idea.

  14. LinB says:

    That doodad looks a lot safer than my usual method of placing my fingertip on the pattern edge, then cutting to my first knuckle, to add about 1″ seam allowance. Your left-handedness explains a lot about your blog: left-handers just think differently about things. My boss and one of my co-workers are left-handed. This realization helped me immensely to decipher their at-first-odd-seeming instructions to me when assigning tasks. Once I grasped that they were not ill at me, just using unexpected words and order of tasks, I could cope. They are both excellent writers, but sometimes I have to step in and fix their syntax so that right-handers can understand them.

  15. MrsC says:

    Karen that is very clever! I must try and locate some for my shop. I am excited about another gadget I spotted in the Clover catalogue but have never seen for sale – a marking wheel with two parallel, adjustable-distance wheels, which you can use to add seam allowance to a pattern. How cool is that?! But where it cannot help, as in a pattern already cut without a seam allowance, the Dooda is the thing. Handled!
    BTW, I agree about us southpaws entirely. I get so excited when I meet others, even though we are not THAT rare really. Sometimes I wonder if that creativity comes from the contortions of creativity required to deal with a writing system designed for right handers, and working out how to make every damned gadget work for us. Can openers, scissors, peelers, cups, the list goes on and on……… :)…

    • Oh yes, the list goes on. Bicycle bells that are on the right handle bar. What?! Are left handers not allowed to ring their bell to avoid accidents? (Not that I feel strongly on this issue, you understand. Of course, I am perfectly capable of swapping the bell to the left handle bar!) I was well into my life before I realised that right handers have a much easier time with scissors because they’re not cutting with blunt edges!!!!

      • MrsC says:

        For some reason I will never understand, I use my right hand with scissors. It’s just as well. Left handed scissors are a great theory, but I’ve found that those lefties who use right handed scissors in their left hand find them hopeless after years of pushing the blades the wrong way. You can’t win! Still, at least I can usually cut down both sides of a pattern not just one way! 🙂

    • Molly says:

      I have that Clover double wheel tracer (from UK ebay). Its a nifty little thing and since I cut most of my patterns without seams, I use it to trace a cutting line onto my fabric at the same time as tracing my stitching line. You could use it to trace off a multi-pattern on pattern paper and mark your seam allowances at the same time too. While I am most happy with it, I have found that the cutting line often skips or is feint compared to the stitching line, I guess its uneven hand pressure, but it is an irritation that I often end up having to trace that line several times over.

  16. Susan says:

    I was dreaming of a left handed sewing machine the other day. I’ve been struggling with righthanded machinery all my life, and if only it was made for lefties, people wouldn’t have thought I was so clumsy! I don’t know where the creative part of my brain went to, anything I try to design someone else comes along and alters.

  17. Very nice review, it’s good to see some action shots.
    My mom is left handed. I think sometimes I put things in my house the wrong way because it looks correct (ie. set up for Mom) to my eye but doesn’t really function as well as it should.

  18. grenouille78 says:

    I’m glad you showed how these worked because I had no idea what they were for!
    I think I’m left-hander in disguise. I’m right-hand dominate, but do everything in a left-handed way (hook my arm to write, ironing board faces left, etc). Best of both worlds. 😉

  19. Oh my gosh, San Francisco, pier 39 – LEFTYS.

    You will thank me, trust me!

  20. Elle C says:

    My mom was left handed, and of the generation that was forced to use their right hand, so she did things in the most convoluted way imaginable. For instance, she wrote with her right hand, but erased with her left. She tried a couple of times to teach me to knit or crochet, but there was no way I could follow what she was doing. No doubt about it, you lefties have a rough time of it, Imagine a left handed sewing machine, wouldn’t that be awesome.

  21. Molly says:

    I like to see reviews of this gadget, I remember it being released in Australia and I’ve been interested to read more about it ever since – especially positive reviews – before deciding whether to invest or not. I *think* it looks like the price has come down since I first looked at it, and free postage now… I’m very tempted…

  22. ooh tempted by this – i read about it on another blog and couldn’t quite get my head around it, but it does look useful! thanks (and it does need another name – like the Dooda!). my nearly 4 year old is a lefty and i didn’t realise how annoying it was. fight sinistromanualism (this is the word for the oppression of left handed people as emblazoned on a t-shirt by my left handed friend at university!)

  23. I’m utterly enchanted by the way the comments have wandered off into different territory! I’m one of those terrible right-handed folk whose preferences dominate the world. But I do a few things left-handed. I shuffle and deal playing cards left-handed (can’t explain that one and cannot do it right-handed), can sweep either way (not to say I do because I don’t sweep much), I shoot left-handed (yeah, yeah, I know, but I grew up on a farm; it’s part of the gig) and, most critically, I thread needles left-handed. I can do it right-handed but not easily or well.

    The shooting and needle-threading are easily explained by my poor eyesight. I squint my right eye because I see better out of my left one. If you’ve ever done any shooting (and probably even if you haven’t but you’re possessed of a good imagination) you’ll understand why trying to shoot right-handed with your right eye closed means you end up just about trying to stand on your head. The same holds true for trying to thread your sewing machine right-handed. Though you might not expect sympathy from a right-hander, that’s one awkwardness I understand absolutely.

    • LinB says:

      Same goes for shooting with a camera! Your dominant eye may not be on the same side as your dominant hand. Explains why, when I “aim” with my right eye, I invariably cut off someone from the edge of a group photo. Or cut off people’s heads … awkward to position a camera across nose to use left eye, but photos come out better. Easier with most new digital cameras, though, where you look on a screen instead of through a view port. And some runners have a dominant foot, which may not be the same as dominant hand.

      • It really is fascinating stuff and, in case you didn’t know, handedness is not confined to humans. Animals are sometimes left-pawed or clawed or taloned, too. I hadn’t thought about cameras, but I actually own a left-handed one: my first ever SLR, an old Pentina.

    • Molly says:

      I’m also finding this fascinating reading, a lot of interesting comments. I’m dominant right hand but do a lot of stuff left-handed, including eating, board writing,left-handed set-up for my iron but use mainly my right hand and someone once pointed out I hand sew in a left handed direction despite holding the needle in my right (I thread needles with either hand). Reading other comments makes me realise I am probably subconsciously doing this because my mother was left-handed and a lot of these things I have learned from observing her (and I grew up using left-handed equipment). What I couldn’t learn from her, as Elle C mentioned, is knitting and having since learned without difficulty, I’ve wondered if it was her left-hand method. She herself did a lot of stuff in an awkward right-hand manner, not just because of tools being geared to right-handers (how she longed for a left-handed pencil sharpener!) but because she was of a generation who were made to sit on their left hand or have it tied behind their back to prevent using it. Seems incredible now, this was only the ’50s.

  24. Apparently, evolutionarily, there is a lot of selection pressure on left handers because they’ve historically had an edge (literally) over right handers in combat. It’s kinda hard to estimate what the sword’s gonna do next when its coming at you from a totally unexpected (and probably un-trained for) direction 😉

  25. Phillippa says:

    Both my 4 year old daughter and I are left-handed, so my husband in the right-handed minority in our house. It’s nice to redress the balance for a change!

    But it will be a lot easier teaching her to sew and knit than my Mum found teaching me.

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