This is a tutorial about working seams,finishing seams, and sewing straight seams
A Jaycotts.co.uk blog post
Recently I have had people tell me that it is years since they last used a sewing machine and could not sew in a straight line.
What is a seam?
- Pin the seam together right sides of the fabric together normally, but there are exceptions which we will come to later
- Pin the seam edges together matching the ends, notches and any other markings
- Hand tack the seam. You can omit this if your fabric is easy to handle and if you are experienced at sewing.
- Stitch the seam with thread which exactly matches your fabric and buy the best quality thread you can afford
- Finish the seam edge appropriately
- Trim loose threads
- Press every seam every time. Pressing gives a crisp edge and makes the thread sink into the fabric making the stitches invisible.
How to sew a straight seam - some tips
Measuring the seam allowance
Most sewing machines now come with a seam guide which is place onto your normal sewing foot or walking foot.
- To give durability and strength to the seam
- To prevent fraying
- To ensure that the inside of the garment looks just as good as the outside.
The pinked seam
I do not recommend pinking your seams now however, after a couple of washes your seam will start to look very untidy and will start to fray. Save your pinking shears for crafting and for a decorative edge on leather and fabrics like it
The zigzag seam
The self bound seam
The flat felled seam
The Channel seam
Stitch your seam with the longest stitch you have on your machine and do not fasten off the ends as it will be removed later. Press open.
Pin a strip of the same or a contrast fabric, right side up, to the back of the fabric .
Working from the right side tack along both sides of the seam.
Then stitch between 1/4" and 1/2" from the seam center making sure that both sides are equal. Pull the basting threads out leaving a gap in the centre
This is what the seam looks like from the outside. I love this seam and use it on medium to heavy weight fabrics as a design feature, sometimes with a contrast backing, sometimes not.
The Hemmed (Edgestitched) seam
The Hong Kong or Bound seam
This is a beautiful finish to any seam. It is used a lot in couture garments because it does look lovely.
You can use a contrast binding as I have done or if your fabric is very fine you could use hand made binding made from tulle or net. It looks fabulous inside an unlined jacket or coat.
Stitch your binding to the seam allowance matching the edges as above.
Fold and pin the binding behind the seam allowance. "Stitch in the ditch" making sure that the binding underneath is stitched down.
Using a 1/2" seam allowance stitch the seam WRONG sides together.
Trim the seam back so that it is less than 1/4" from the stitching. Press the seam flat.
Then fold the fabric the other way so that the right sides are together and press again.
What you have on the inside is a very neat seam with no raw edges showing at all
Quick, easy, robust this is a very good choice for everyday garments. You can overlock each side individually or both together as I did
Overlock feet for your regular sewing machine are available here Overlock foot This is the Brother overlock foot but do contact jaycotts for different makes . These are also available with a side cutter.
The Curved SeamWe sew curved seams just about every time we make a garment, the neck facing, armhole facings and princess seams are all curved. How do we deal with them so that they always lie flat?
Sew your regular 5/8" regular seam and then trim black to 1/2"
The curve will not turn to the inside unless you release the fabric, so to do that you must make slits at regular intervals right up to , but not cutting through, the seam line. If your fabric is bulky you have to get rid of some of the bulk by cutting V shapes out of the fabric, again at regular intervals up to but not cutting into the stitches.
To press the curve it is best to do it over a tailors ham or sleeve roll. Gradually press the seam open all the way along. You will need to keep repositioning the fabric as it will not be possible to press the whole seam in one go.
Turn the facing to the inside - it should turn in smoothly and neatly if you have snipped into the fabric enough - and then press. Make sure that the seam Is exactly along the top edge for a dress or blouse and slightly to the inside for a tailored garment in a heavier fabric
Open it up again as we are going to "staystitch" the facing to stop it from moving out of place. To do this, on the WRONG side, stitch the seam allowance to the facing.
Turn it the right way out again and press. This is what the inside will look like - of course you're will be invisible almost because you will be using a matching thread.
Stretch fabricsI hope that you find this post interesting. There are one of two more seams I can think of but I think that these are the most useful. Just a note about stretch fabrics . If you stitch a stretch fabric with an ordinary straight stitch, when you pull the garment even gently, the thread will snap and your garment will fall apart. Therefore you need to use a stitch with some give. I find that a narrow zigzag is perfect for this, followed by an overlocker to tidy the seams. Some people just use an overlocker without stitching the seam first, it is entirely up to you. A lot of sewing machines have various stretch stitches so do try them all out, however if your machine does not have any there is no need to worry because I find a very narrow zigzag just as efficient.
if you want any more information about products then do contact Jaycotts , the details are here, Contact Jaycotts
If you would like any help with your sewing please let me know.
Thank you again for reading this