How many notches are too many?

too_many_notches_smA recent question in the forum inspires this entry:

Is it okay to make a notches on a pattern to identify seam allowances or is that information only supposed to go on the spec sheet of the product? I was at the workshop of the designer who helps me with my production and I saw that one of his patterns had them, so I asked him about it and he told me I should do it because the seamstresses wouldn’t know the seam allowance size.

Members resolved the question so that’s not what this entry is about (yes, you notch allowances -sometimes; I’ll include useful links at close). However, it gave me the idea to post a photo of an old pattern I got from a customer 15 years ago (shown at right). The singular reason I have kept this pattern  is because it has too many notches and I use it as an educational tool of what not to do.

Perhaps now is a good time to open with this quote from On reviewing pattern books:

Some things -like notches- amount to pet peeves in the workplace. Beginning pattern makers put too many notches on things, breeding them like some kind of a communicable disease or something. Or maybe warts. Armstrong loves notches. If your pieces are made correctly, they don’t need that many notches. If the patterns are crappy, sure, you’ll need to ease them in from notch to notch.

I suppose the thing that stands out is the practice of double notching at each corner, this is shown in the red circles at left, below:


In the right side of the pane, there are green circles showing the remaining notches after that princess line is sewn. Problem is, those remaining notches are now useless. I completely understand these were intended to indicate seam allowance at the bottom of the piece but those notches are out of the running once that center seam is formed.

I suppose it is easier said that one should think a bit about sewing order before marking notches. Why place a notch that serves no purpose?

The same could be said of the notches that point down into the neckline and armhole. Reason being, the shoulder seam must be sewn before the collar and sleeve can be added so the superfluous notches will also “disappear”.  Am I mucking this up terribly? Perhaps this image will help: this is the maximum allowable notches one can use to get the intended effect of using them:


I suppose it would help to know there is a peplum sort of piece that joins to the bottom of the bodice.

This explanation isn’t as clear as I would like it. I think that tomorrow I will post photos of a sewn sample so you can see how the superfluous notches get lost once the primary seams are joined. Until then, I hope this will suffice. Also, it must be said that these are the maximum allowable notches. I would actually use less.


The rules on seam allowances
The rules on seam allowances pt.2
Designers must know seam allowances and specifications (HT Alison)
Notch maps: Suit sleeve & armhole
Notch maps: Suit sleeve & armhole pt.2
Pop Quiz: notching challenge pt.2 (very good to test yourself)
How do you cut notches?

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