Sewing & Pattern making Terms

Notch / Clip

For seamstresses and pattern makers, understanding various sewing techniques and terminologies is essential for creating well-fitting and professional-looking garments. Two terms that frequently appear in sewing patterns are “notch” and “clip.” In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the purpose and techniques behind notching and clipping, providing you with the knowledge to incorporate these techniques seamlessly into your sewing projects.

Understanding Notches and Clips

Notches and clips are markings on a sewing pattern that indicate specific points on fabric pieces. They help align and match corresponding sections during garment assembly, ensuring accurate and precise construction.

The Purpose of Notches

Notches serve several purposes in sewing:

  1. Alignment and Matching: Notches are used to match corresponding fabric pieces accurately. They indicate where sections should align, such as shoulder seams, armholes, or princess seams. By aligning the notches, you ensure that the fabric pieces fit together seamlessly, resulting in a well-constructed garment.
  2. Differentiating Between Sides: Notches can also be used to differentiate between the right and wrong sides of fabric pieces. By placing notches on specific edges, you can easily identify which side is meant to face outward or be sewn together.
  3. Shape and Draping: Notches provide information about the shape and draping of fabric pieces. For instance, a curved notch on a sleeve indicates the proper alignment and orientation when attaching it to the bodice. Notches guide you in achieving the intended fit and drape of the garment.

The Purpose of Clips

Clips, sometimes referred to as “clipping,” serve a different purpose than notches:

  1. Easing Curves and Corners: Clips are used to facilitate smooth and even sewing of curved or cornered sections. By creating small snips into the seam allowance, you allow the fabric to relax and conform to the desired shape. Clips are commonly used in curved seams, such as armholes, necklines, or princess seams, to ensure a clean and smooth finish.
  2. Reducing Bulk: Clips help reduce bulk in areas where multiple layers of fabric intersect, such as when attaching collars or pockets. By strategically clipping into the seam allowance, you eliminate excess fabric, resulting in smoother and flatter seams.

Notching and Clipping Techniques

Follow these techniques to notch and clip fabric accurately:

  1. Notching:
  • Transfer the notches from the pattern to the fabric using tailor’s chalk, pins, or notching tools.
  • Make small, triangular cuts or slits, approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch in length, from the fabric edge towards the seam allowance.
  • Ensure the notches are visible but not too large that they compromise the structural integrity of the fabric.
  1. Clipping:
  • Mark the points where clips are needed on the fabric using tailor’s chalk or pins.
  • Create small, straight snips, approximately 1/4 to 1/2 inch in length, from the fabric edge towards the seam allowance.
  • Be careful not to cut through the stitching line or beyond the seam allowance.

Best Practices and Considerations:

  • Use sharp sewing tools, such as scissors or rotary cutters, for precise notching and clipping.
  • Test the technique on scrap fabric before working on your final project to ensure proper execution.
  • Avoid over-notching or over-clipping, as this can weaken the fabric or compromise its structure.
  • Take note of any pattern-specific instructions or symbols that indicate specific notching or clipping techniques.


Notching and clipping are fundamental techniques in sewing that aid in accurate alignment, smooth sewing of curved sections, and reduction of bulk. By understanding the purpose and techniques behind these markings, you can confidently navigate sewing patterns and achieve professional results in your garment construction. Remember to approach notching and clipping with precision and care, and let these techniques guide you toward the creation of beautifully tailored garments and clothes.

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Melissa Villegas
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