What Is Notches In Sewing

Notches are a crucial element in sewing patterns and play a significant role in ensuring that your garment pieces align correctly during the sewing process. They are small, triangular or diamond-shaped markings placed on the edges of paper sewing patterns and fabric pieces. Understanding how to use notches effectively can greatly improve the accuracy and fit of your finished garment. In this article, we will explore what notches are, why they are important, and how to work with them in your sewing projects.

Importance of Notches


One of the primary functions of notches is to help you match seams accurately. Sewing patterns typically have notches at key points where different pattern pieces are meant to be sewn together. By aligning these notches, you ensure that seams and edges meet precisely, resulting in a well-fitted garment.

2. Identifying Front and Back

Notches also help distinguish between the front and back sides of a garment piece. For example, a single notch may indicate the front, while a double notch signifies the back. This prevents you from accidentally sewing pieces together in the wrong orientation.

3. Aligning Pattern Pieces

When you cut out fabric pieces from your pattern, notches guide you in placing and pinning the pieces correctly. This ensures that the pieces maintain their intended shape and proportions.

Types of Notches

Notches come in various forms, each serving a specific purpose:

1. Single Notch

A single notch typically indicates the front of a garment piece. For example, it may be placed on the neckline of a bodice pattern.

2. Double Notch

Double notches are commonly used to mark the back of a garment piece. You’ll often find them on the back neckline or armholes.

3. Triple Notch

Triple notches are less common but may be used to mark other specific points, such as the center back of a skirt.

4. Matching Notches

These are found on different pattern pieces that need to align precisely when sewn together. For example, a sleeve may have notches that should match up with notches on the bodice armhole.

Working with Notches

To make the most of notches in sewing:

1. Transfer Notches

After cutting your pattern pieces, transfer the notches onto the fabric by making small snips or marks at the notch points. Be careful not to cut too deep, as this can weaken the fabric.

2. Use Notches as Reference Points

When sewing, align the notches on your fabric pieces as indicated in the pattern instructions. Pin or clip them together before sewing to ensure accurate seam matching.

3. Pay Attention to Notch Types

Remember the significance of different notch types. Single notches typically indicate the front of a piece, while double notches signify the back. Use this knowledge to assemble your garment correctly.

4. Test Fit

Always perform a test fit of your garment pieces before sewing the final seams. This allows you to verify that the notches align as they should and make any necessary adjustments.

5. Pattern Matching

Notches are like puzzle pieces that ensure your sewing pattern aligns perfectly. Whether you’re joining the front and back pieces of a shirt or attaching sleeves to a bodice, notches guide you in connecting the right parts.

6. Seam Allowance Control

Notches often mark the beginning or end of seam allowances. This helps you know exactly where to start and stop sewing, preventing you from accidentally sewing beyond the intended seam line.

7. Pattern Piece Orientation

In complex patterns with multiple pieces, notches help you maintain the proper orientation of each piece. This is especially crucial when working with asymmetrical designs or patterns with similar-looking but different sections.

Additional Notch Types

Understanding the various notch types is crucial for interpreting sewing patterns accurately:

8. Square Notches

While less common, square notches serve the same purpose as triangular or diamond-shaped notches. They help match pattern pieces but might be used to signify specific points, like the corners of pockets or pleats.

9. Placement Notches

Some notches indicate the placement of elements like buttons, zippers, or other embellishments. These notches ensure that your finishing details are precisely positioned.

Working with Notches Effectively

Mastering the art of using notches in sewing requires attention to detail and practice:

10. Mark Notches Accurately

When transferring notches from your pattern to the fabric, use fabric chalk, pins, or small snips, depending on your preference and the fabric type. Precision is key to ensure a perfect match during assembly.

11. Notch Alignment

Take your time to align notches correctly. Before sewing, pin or clip the pieces together at the notches, then check to see if the fabric lays smoothly between them. Adjust if necessary to avoid any puckering or misalignment.

12. Notch Reinforcement

Especially with delicate fabrics, consider reinforcing notches with a small stitch or a piece of lightweight interfacing. This can prevent the notches from stretching or tearing during handling.

13. Record Notch Information

If you frequently work with certain sewing patterns, it’s helpful to make notes on the pattern itself regarding the significance of specific notches. This can save time and reduce confusion in future projects.

14. Pattern Adjustments

Occasionally, you may need to adjust the position of notches if you’ve made alterations to your pattern or if you’re working with non-standard fabrics. Always double-check that your notches still align correctly.

In conclusion, notches are an essential part of sewing patterns that contribute to the accuracy and success of your sewing projects. Their role in guiding fabric alignment, marking seam allowances, and orienting pattern pieces should not be underestimated. By understanding the types of notches, transferring them accurately, and paying attention to their significance, you can take your sewing skills to the next level and achieve professional-grade results.

Notches Types

Notch TypeDescriptionPurposeLocationShape
Single NotchA single V-shaped mark or cut in the patternMatch pattern piecesEdgesV-shaped
Double NotchTwo V-shaped marks or cuts close togetherAlign seams accuratelySeam allowanceV-shaped
Triangle NotchA triangle-shaped markMatch specific pointsCornersTriangle
Square NotchA square-shaped markMatch specific pointsSeam linesSquare
Slit NotchA straight cut or slitMatch pattern curvesCurved areasStraight

Notches Usage

AlignmentEnsure pattern pieces fit together precisely
MatchingIdentify corresponding points on fabric
Curved SeamsEase fabric into curves and shapes
CornersEnsure sharp corners in finished product
Dart PlacementPosition darts accurately

Notch Symbols

Single NotchA single, small V-shaped symbol
Double NotchTwo small V-shaped symbols close together
Triangle NotchA small triangle symbol
Square NotchA small square symbol
Slit NotchA small straight line symbol

Notch Placement Tips

Use notches sparinglyAvoid cluttering the pattern with too many notches
Mark on the fabricTransfer notches to the fabric for alignment
Color-coded notchesUse different colors to distinguish notch types
Clip or mark inwardCut or mark notches inside seam allowances
Use notch guidesTemplates or tools for consistent notch placement

What Is Notches In Sewing

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