Adding Variable Seam Allowance Master Digital Pattern Making in Adobe Illustrator with our Free course Adapt basic blocks into finished patterns

How to Add Different Seam Allowances to Basic Blocks

Pattern Making Project in Adobe Illustrator

Adding different seam allowances to your basic blocks is an important skill to have. It allows you to create more dynamic or professional finished patterns. The location and amount of seam allowance added to a basic block depend upon how the garment or sample will be sewn together. A garment that features different types of seams, such as a shirt, will feature a regular seam where the collar stand attaches to the neckline but possibly a French seam for the side seams. Therefore, the shirt pattern will have a variety of seam allowances to cater for the different types of seams.

What is Seam Allowance?

Seam allowance refers to the area between the stitching line and the cut edge of the fabric. This extra fabric is essential for sewing a garment together. The seam allowance, or extra fabric outside of the sewing lines, allows for fit adjustments, provides room to sew the garment together without eating into the sew lines (which would cause the garment to be too small), and ensures that the seams are strong and durable since there is extra fabric to prevent fraying. Typically, seam allowances vary depending on the garment type, fabric, construction method, and whether it is a basic block or finished pattern.

Learn More About Seam Allowance

Inside the Pattern Making Project:

Adding these seam allowances to your finished pattern is a relatively simple process but is a bit more time-consuming than adding a single seam allowance around the entire finished pattern. In this pattern-making project, we explore how to add these seam allowances to your pattern using the Path Outline tool. We then demonstrate, using the direct selection and join tool, how to combine the different seam allowances together to finish the pattern.

New to pattern making in Adobe Illustrator? Learn the fundamental pattern making techniques with our comprehensive online course. Read more…

Essentials for Following Along

Before we dive in, you’ll need a torso basic block to keep up with this pattern-making project. We offer two types of torso basic blocks for your selection. Standardised basic blocks are ready for immediate use, allowing you to start drafting right away, though they might not match your measurements perfectly. On the other hand, a bespoke basic block, tailored to your specific measurements, offers a precise fit but requires time to create, as we’ll need 28 of your body measurements. Choose the one that best suits your needs!

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Standardized Basic Block

Start pattern making immediately

Visit our partner site, DesignLab.London, for a variety of torso basic blocks available in multiple sizes. These serve as an ideal starting point or base pattern for your pattern-making project. Explore the collection, select your preferred style and size, and download it to proceed with your project.


Bespoke Basic Blocks

Craft a personalised basic block designed for your unique measurements

Looking for a tailor-made torso basic block for this project? You’re in the right place. Construct your personalised basic block in the Lab by providing your measurements. Simply create a profile, input your measurements, and utilise this profile to design a range of basic block styles. You’ll need the torso basic block for this project.

What’s Next?

You’re not done there though! If you want to share it online or print it off at home, you’ll need to add seam allowance and transform it into a PDF sewing pattern. Check out the projects below to find out how.

Screenshot of Adobe Illustrator showing the 'Offset Path' function being used to add seam allowance to a basic block of a halter-neck swimsuit pattern.

Learn How to Add Seam Allowance to Your Patterns

Learn how to add seam allowance, to your basic blocks and finished patterns, in Adobe Illustrator, using our simple pattern making tutorial.

Computer screen with a digital pattern making program, Adobe Illustrator open, showing a dress basic block pattern, on a desk with modern design tools.

Master Pattern Making Techniques in Adobe Illustrator

Transform Basic Blocks into Precision Finished Patterns

Learn the fundamental techiques of pattern making with our Free comprehensive pattern making in Adobe Illustrator course

Screenshot of a dress basic block layout in Adobe Illustrator, showcasing the process to create PDF sewing patterns.

Learn How to Create PDF Sewing Patterns

Transform your finished patterns into multi-page PDF sewing patterns in a range of paper sizes. Then save, print from home, or share and sell your PDF sewing patterns online.


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