Many times I get an email from someone asking me “Do I really need to clip seams?” or How do I “Clip Seams”…..YES! If you want a professional finish, you DO ….BUT never fear…the process is so simply! It makes a HUGE difference to the way your finished project will look…..and that is wether you are making a BAG or some other sewing project!

So just HOW and WHERE do you need to Clip?

In any typical project you might have what are often referred to as hills and valleys. Like in this bag I am currently working on:

How to Clip Your Hills and Valleys!

Hills and Valleys!

So do you need to treat the hills and valleys differently? YES…you do! The hills, so to speak, need to be notched….i.e. you need to cut little triangles out of the seam allowance to remove the bulk of the fabric so that once these hills are turned, your seam will lay nice and flat by giving the extra fabric somewhere to go:

Notching Hills in your seams


This isn’t the best photo in the world…LOL…But hopefully you can see that the once turned, the notches are closing up so you don’t get excess fabric bunching up:

Hills Closing the notches

Notches Closing!

A Nifty trick for your hills is to use Pinking Shears, like this:

Pink your hills!

Use Pinking Shears to remove excess bulk!

Pinking is GREAT where you have a tight hill like the one shown! There is a LOT of bulk in such a hill and the pinking shears does a great job of removing it for a super flat finish! 🙂

The valleys however, need to be clipped, i.e. take your sissors and simply snip in towards the seam allowance….. so that once turned, the seam allowance can spread apart a little and will be able to lay flat and not pucker up!

Clipping your Valleys


In the photo you can see (Hopefully! LOL) that the notches are opening up as the fabric stretches, avoiding puckering:

Cliiping your seams!

Valleys! See How The Clips Open Up!

Always make sure you do NOT cut into your seams stitches! You can always stitch over your seam a second time after notching and clipping if you suspect you have clipped or notched your seam by accident or if you just want to be sure you won’t have any problems!

Simple BUT the results are well worth the effort so next time you think you will take a shortcut and skip this step, don’t! You will be glad you made the extra effort! 🙂

results of clipping and notching your seams!

See how everything sits nice and flat?

Happy sewing!

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  1. Thanks for this tip Christine. I normally just clip, hills and valleys. Didn’t realize it made that much difference. This post came just in time seeing as I’ll be making a bag soon. LOLL

  2. Once you start notching, you will wonder how you ever managed before! LOLL Yes I thought it was time to clarify…..I myself am in the habit of referring to both clipping and notching as ‘clipping’! me BAD! LOLL

  3. I have to admit, that I tend to just clip the hills and leave the valleys if it’s a gentle curve. You’ve reminded me to do it correctly. Well explained…

  4. hi! i’m new to sewing and i’m curious about why your photos show two sets of stitching 🙂 great article by the way, it’s saving my senior thesis!

  5. I’ve been too lazy to clip/notch when I make my own bags, but I definitely think it is time to start if (when) I make bags with anything but a straight seam. Thanks for reminding me of such an important step and how much of a difference it makes in the final product.

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