How to Sew Inset Corners

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How to sew inset corners! A really useful skill that a lot of people have trouble with. Mastering this technique will enable you to piece together seams with difficult angles, and also help improve your precision and dexterity overall.

There are probably multiple ways to do this, but here is the method I learned from God Save the Queen Fashions when I was her intern. Click the images to expand.

1. Start by marking the seam allowances on the back of your fabric to find the exact point at which your corners intersect. On the piece which will be the outer corner (blue in my sample) I have marked the entire length of the seam allowance for clarity. I sometimes do this when sewing complex shapes. On the piece which will be inset (pink here), you can just mark the corner itself.

 

2. This is just three different views of how the pieces should be pinned and positioned. With the right sides of the fabric together, push a pin through the exact corner of your outside piece (blue) and then through the exact corner of your inside piece (pink) so that they are brought together face-to-face at this point. Pivot the fabric pieces until edges line up along the first side you will be sewing, then prepare to feed it into your machine. When sewing, it will be easier to keep the outside piece (blue) on top.

 

3. Stitch along the first side, removing the pin before you reach it. On the final stitch, make sure that your needle lands in the exact corner where the pin was. With the needle still engaged in the fabric, lift the presser foot. This is now a pivot point.

 

4. Pivot the fabric around so that you are looking at the inside of your corner. With a pair of very sharp, narrow snips, clip through the top layer as close as you can possibly get to the needle itself.

 

5. Pull the other side of the top piece around until its edges line up with the other side of the bottom piece. This opens up the cut you just made. You should be able to fold down the excess fabric fairly neatly if your corner is clean. Once you are in position to sew the second side, lower the presser foot.

 

6. Stitch along the second side and tie off your thread. Once you remove it from the machine, you should have something like this. The blue fabric is still folded up in my hand in this image so that you can see both sides of the corner.

 

7. Unfold your fabric, lay it flat, and enjoy the excellent corner you have sewn. If yours isn’t as crisp as you’d like it to be, press it flat with an iron or consider top-stitching, as shown in the first image.

Practice will make you better at this. When I first learned, Cathy made me sew like ten in a row until they looked better than the one in this sample (sorry, Cathy). If you’re having trouble, be patient and keep trying and you will end up an expert.

Now show me all of your beautiful inset corners!