Tips and Tricks to Sew Corners

chloe and olive pillows

A corner can seem like something difficult to sew. It isn't as long as you know when to stop by placing a seam guide in front of the needle just like you do for your seam allowance. When the edge of the fabric you are sewing reaches the seam guide in front of the needle, put the needle down, raise the presser foot, and pivot the fabric so the new edge is lined up with your seam guide.

  • 01 of 04

    Creating Perfect Points

    Collar and cuff tips and corners
    The Spruce / Debbie Colgrove

    Corners on collars and cuffs may have multiple layers. Those multiple layers of fabric can stop you from having sharp corners, but there are ways to work around the bulk and have a corner that is what you want it to look like.

    • Trim: Trimming away excess bulk is always a great way to help the fabric lay smoothly. Grading the seam will disrupt a sharp under layer edge.
    • Sew across the corner: The layers of the seam allowance need to fit into the inside of the corner. The smaller the corner the less room there is for the seam allowance. Rather than pivoting at the corner, sew across the corner for a couple of stitches. This makes "room" for the seam allowance.

    The thicker the fabric, the more stitching across the corner that may be needed. Experiment with scraps of fabric to find what will work best for your fabric and interfacing combination.

  • 02 of 04

    Avoiding Pillow Ears or Poking Corners

    Corners sewn into fabric
    The Spruce / Debbie Colgrove

    A nice plump pillow can end up with corners that stick out like a bunny ear just because a pillow is so plump in the middle that nothing is filling in the corners. Using a pillow form is the best way to change pillows but is a prime culprit in creating pillow ears.

    • Taper the corners: By tapering the seam line to take in the fabric at the corners you will create a more fitted cover and avoid the ears. Putting the cover on the pillow form inside out, allows you to mark the wrong side of the fabric as to where to start tapering the seam. A very gradual and slight taper is all that is usually needed to maintain a "normal" pillow shape.
    • Sew across the corners: Just as when you sew a collar or cuff corner, stitching a few stitches across the corner allows room for the seam allowance and allows for a sharp corner.
  • 03 of 04

    Trimming, Clipping, and Notching

    Fabric trimmed and sewn into corners
    The Spruce / Debbie Colgrove

    Problems with corners usually happen because of the seam allowance that is filling up the corner. Trimming, clipping, and notching are all ways to control the seam allowance. Controlling the seam allowance allows for nicely laying smooth seams.

    Notching and clipping on inner and outer curved seams control the way the seam allowance overlaps and lays inside the item. Notching removes pieces of the seam allowance to prevent it from doubling up, laying on itself, or creating unwanted bulk. Clipping allows the seam allowance to spread and lay smoothly.

    Loosely woven fabric may require you to stagger the clipping and notching so that the seam is not weakened in one spot. Simply notch or clip one layer at a time and move over so that the layers of the seam allowance are not treated in the same spot.

    Clipping and notching in conjunction with grading the seam will help eliminate the abruptness of the seam allowance edge inside the garment.

  • 04 of 04

    Tools to Push Corners

    Sewing tools
    The Spruce / Debbie Colgrove

    Scissors are always handy in a sewing room but they are not the tool to push out a corner. If the scissors have nice sharp points that would poke out the corner, odds are those sharp points will poke right through the fabric leaving ripped corners.

    There are notions made specifically for turning out corners but a favorite is a "stuffing tool" that came in a bag of Polyfill many years ago. If that "tool" gets lost or broken, various sized dowels which are sharpened with a pencil sharpener work as well. Do not sharpen the dowels to a pencil-point sharpness; a dull pencil point on the end of the dowel works perfectly for turning out a corner.

    Having a variety of dowel sizes on hand is convenient for working with different weaves and weights of fabric as well as dealing with the variety of angles that make up corners on garments and home decorating items. Plain dowels are inexpensive, and since half the length of a dowel is more than sufficient for a turning tool, consider sharing the other half with a sewing friend. A bamboo skewer has a very sharp point but can be used by filing the point flat with an emery board or nail file.