Tutorial: How to get a sharp square corner.

The eternal question for sewists – or at least one of them – is this:  How do you get a nice sharp corner on collars and cuffs.  Include waistbands, lined pockets and jacket revers with notched collars.  Here’s the method I use, it involves no cutting of angles at the corner, which just makes a weaker point.  I learnt this technique at a tailoring course, many years ago, and it’s worked for me!  I’m going to demonstrate by using one of the cuffs made for the Olya Shirt.  Please excuse my fluffy ironing board, and un-edited photos!

  1. Once your seams are sewn, layer them by trimming the un-interfaced seam allowance down by half.
    step 1
  2. Using the point of the iron, press the seam allowance onto the interfaced piece, nudging and pushing but be careful not to stretch anything.  Give it a good press.  You should be able to see that you have some “bulging” on the interfaced side.
    step 2
  3. Now – you want to start with the side seams of the cuff, fold the seam allowance onto the interfaced side of the piece so that you just see the stitching line.  It just needs to roll slightly up.  Now press that, well.
    step 3
  4. Once both sides are done, fold about 3-5cm of the long edge in the same way, ensuring that you get the seam allowance of the already folded side tucked sharply into the fold.  Press well again, especially on the corner where you’ll have more bulk.  On really bulky fabrics like denim or coating, you will want to get the clapper (or hammer) out and reduce bulk.  You could also shave some of the pile off fluffy coating fabrics, or cut the seam allowance at an angle, bevelling the edge.
    step 4
  5. Now, put your thumb into the cuff/collar, etc and place your forefinger on the outside, on the folded over corners, and pinch tightly.
    step 5
  6. Turn the fabric over the corner with your other hand, pushing with your forefinger into that corner to ensure as much of the fabric goes over as possible.
    step 6
  7. It’ll look something like this at this point, a bit rounded, not 100% sharp. Using a timber or plastic point turner, insert it into the cuff and gently push the corner, while pulling the fabric down to get the rest of the corner to pop out.  BE GENTLE!  And whatever you do, DON’T USE YOUR SCISSORS FOR THIS JOB!  Seriously, unless you want to be redoing the entire thing because you’ve gone and poked a hole in the fabric, leave the scissors on the table!  You might find the back of a seam ripper handy to encourage more reluctant fabrics to turn better, from the outside!
    step 7
  8. Now you can press the corner and edges again, using your fingers to manipulate the fabric.
    step 8
  9. I roll the under side slightly under so there’s no seam line showing.
    step 9
completed cuff, this is the underside of the corner.

And that’s a 90 degree corner done!  Believe it or not, the same method can be used for collars where the angle is more acute, but this time it will involve cutting some seam allowance away.  So here’s the same thing, but for the collar of the Olya Shirt.

  1. Same as above, sew seam, layer seam and press allowances onto the interfaced piece.
    step 1
  2. Press the side seams onto the interfaced side, then the long side, approx 3-4cm worth.  This time you’ll see there’s folded seam allowance sticking out beyond the folded lines.  Left like this there’s no way to get a sharp point.
    step 2
  3. We have to cut it off, but before you do, flip the piece over and check where the stitching line is, you do not want to be cutting “blind” and end up snipping the stitching!  Cut just enough of the seam allowances so none extend past the pressed fold.
    step 3
  4. Turn in the same way as for the cuff and press well.
    step 4
Completed collar corner!

 

And that’s it!!  Your first few might be a little wobbly, but persevere with the technique, it really does work and is so much better than chopping a 45 degree angle off the corner.  I’ve seen so many corners ruined with that technique as with wearing and washing the remaining tiny bit of fabric is weakened and turns to fluffy  shreds.  Good luck with your corners and edges!

P.S. if you’re using this for a pocket flap where you have a fold and a stitched side seam, just press the stitched seam onto the flap and hold it while you turn the corner.  Works well for waistbands too!

Please click on the collage photos to see them much bigger and get more detail.

Author: Anne W

I love fabric, and sewing. And I could do nothing else but sew, all day, every day, if I could!

5 thoughts on “Tutorial: How to get a sharp square corner.”

  1. Great tutorial, thanks! I often thought my corners didn’t work that well snipping fabric away.

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