Tutorial: Adding Scallops

Today I’d like to show you how to add scallops to your garment, whether it be at a hem, neckline, or elsewhere. I’m demonstrating on my scalloped Thurlow shorts.

First we start with the piece to which we need to add scallops. In this case, it’s just the hem, so I saved it for last. If you’re working on a neckline, etc, you’ll have to use your best judgment to determine at which stage of construction you need to add the scallops. You need a facing piece that matches the dimensions of the edge which will be scalloped.  With the Thurlow pattern, to create a facing, I simply turned up the bottom which is intended to create the cuff. If your piece doesn’t have this convenient feature, you’ll have to cut a facing from separate fabric. If your facing fabric is separate from the rest of the garment, pin right sides together at this point.



Now we measure the width of the edge. I measured from the inseam all the way around the leg, back to the inseam. I did it this way because the front of the leg and the back are different widths and I didn’t want the front scallops ending up a different size from the back. Consider this difference as well when adding scallops to a skirt hem.

Divide this distance by the number of scallops you want to determine the width of each scallop (the diameter of each half-circle). You may have to guess and check. I thought I wanted 10 scallops but the width of the scallops was smaller than I wanted, so I tried again and ended up with 9.

Now that you know how wide to make each scallop, grab your compass, pencil, and a large sheet of pattern paper (or whatever your preferred pattern making material). Compasses are marked to measure the radius of a circle so you’ll need to divide the scallop diameter by 2 to find the radius. Set your compass to the corresponding radius.

Cut a piece of pattern paper the length of your hem (neckline, etc). Draw a line about a half inch away from and parallel to the lengthwise edge.

Setting the point of the pencil at one end of the paper and the point of the compass on the line, begin drawing half-circle scallops abutting one another like so:


(Please enjoy the compass that I’ve had since 6th grade geometry class.)

Cut out the pattern piece and pin to the facing like so:


Trace around the edges of the scallops. After trying every marking tool in my arsenal I resorted to ball point pen on this denim! Whatever you use, be sure it will either wash/rub out or won’t show through.


Now for the fun part. Carefully – ever so carefully – stitch though the garment and facing along the lines. At the points, take a stitch across the point, rather than creating a sharp V. Sorry I didn’t get a better picture of this part but you can think of it as the very tippy top of a mountain peak that got chopped off. It will turn a better sharp point in the end – trust me.


Bravely trim your fabric now, leaving a tiny allowance. Clip the bejesus out of the curves and be sure to clip as close as humanly possible into the points without cutting your stitches.



Turn and press thoroughly. I had to steam this denim ’til I nearly burned myself on the hot fabric.

Depending on your application, you may need to tack the facings in place at the seam allowances, I simply stitched in the ditch at the inseam and outseam to hold them.

And there you have a scalloped edge. 🙂

Sewaholic Thurlow scalloped shorts

Sewaholic Thurlow scalloped shorts


3 thoughts on “Tutorial: Adding Scallops

  1. great detailed instructions! thanks! Wish I had seen this before I made a toddler dress with scallops on the bodice! I made a V turn, and should have done as you instructed… oh well. I will certainly remember this tip! Thanks!

  2. funny – I use ballpoint pen on denim too – the only thing I’ve found that works that I can actually see. I have a little denim purse lying on the sewing table right now, and guess what’s the marking?? yup.
    I learned something here – didn’t know how to measure for how many scallops to make, nor about that little straight stitch across the point.

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