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.
I remember when I was learning to sew my seams were never straight either. Like everything else it only comes with practice. Luckily there are now lots of gadgets to help.
A spot of hand sewing
What is a seam?
A seam is much more than joining two pieces of fabric together. A seam can provide subtle shaping to a garment and when correctly made can be almost invisible. Decorative seams add design and interest to a garment.
So what are the rules in sewing 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.
NB Please note that in order to show you the different seam finishes more clearly I am using a contrast thread. The only time you should sew a seam with a contrast thread is when it is a design feature for example top stitching.
How to sew a straight seam - some tips
Seam allowances are usually 5/8" wide, there are occasions when 1/4" or 1/2" seams are used so do check your pattern.
Why is this important?
Quite simply if your seam is too wide or to narrow, your garment will not fit.
There are lots of ways to ensure your seam is the correct width and straight(ish) The simplest method of all and is what I do is to quite simply attach a piece of tape ,masking tape will do, positioned 5/8" away from the needle. Then when you are sewing align the edge of your fabric with the side of the tape nearest your machine. And there you have it! Straight seams at exactly 5/8" from the edge.