Clever tips and tricks using a sewing gauge

titleSewing gauge is a fantastic multi use tool every sewists should own. Not only you can use it to measure and mark hem allowances, button placement, button sizes, tucks and pleats you can use it as a point turner, a button shank creator, or to draw a circle.


Use chalk to mark on the wrong side the depth of the hem allowance. That ‘invisible’ line from connecting the chalk marks is where you will fold and press your fabric before hemming. *I always finish my hem first. This is just for illustration purpose.


Pleats: Mark the placement line with one colour and the folding line using another alternating placement lines and fold lines leaving a gap in between pleats or tucks if necessary.


Buttonholes:Determine where and how long you would like your buttonholes to be. This time use an air erasable pen as we are marking on the right side of the fabric (do a test swatch first. Always!)  Do keep a distance of half inch between each buttonhole. If you find yourself getting confused between the start and end of each buttonhole you can use different colours pens for reference. Just make sure you are marking on a straight line all the way.


Button shank: Buttons should have an accurate shank width to accommodate thickness of fabric. The gauge tool has three options.


Place it on top of the fabric where the button is being placed. Stitch your button from the back. To create the shank after attaching the button bring the needle back to the right side of the garment between fabric and button and  wrap the thread around the loose threads 3-4 times. To secure the shank stitch back down thought to the underside and secure the thread.

gauge6Point turner: Use the pointed end to poke the corner right side out when turning corners. The rounded, beveled end smoothes out curves and seams.gauge9

Circle: You need to anchor the pivoting point by putting a pin (where is the arrow) and your marking pen or pencil through the hole near the pointed end. Rotate around the pin to draw a perfect circle.

  • DeeCee

    What a great tool. Years ago I used the older version of this. It only measured – no shank, no way to draw circles and no pointed end, but I still use it occasionally. Will be looking for this on my next trip to the fabric store. Thanks.

  • That is one nice seam gauge! The one I’ve seen are all so flimsy looking so I’ve not been tempted to buy one. What brand is yours?

  • Lis Hjort

    I have one of those, so fare only to messer and mark the hemline. To this work its faboules. Thanks for learning me the other tips.


  • Thank you for this article, Rachel! I didn’t know about this tool before, but this looks soooo handy!

  • I haven’t used one of those before, thanks for the tips!

  • Angie B

    Great tips.

  • Alethia

    Greatly illustrated!

  • Bluenoser Donna

    I have one of the flimsy ones…I don’t sew but I do quilt and it is perfect for checking my seam allowance when I need it….I have used that flimsy one for almost 10 years but I may have to get the one you have hahahahahaha!! Your work is beautiful!!

  • annie_on_the_trail

    I collect similar gauges with straight edges like yours (unfortunately without the neat tools at each end) – modern versions have notches at each inch mark and always pull my serged hem finish when measuring hems! aarrgh

  • Thanx for sharing the button spacer info. Couldn’t find this seam gauge version in US so ordered from UK–Amazon had FREE shipping; big bonus.
    Button spacer is a big improvement on the toothpick 😎

  • ANN

    Thank you I do have one ,but I didn’t know what it was for. I DO NOW !!!!!!!

  • Lisa Doyle-Greenhall

    thank you for that useful information!

  • Sharon

    Where can I buy this sewing gauge?