Try These Techniques for Perfectly Beautiful Seamscomments (23) February 20th, 2009
When you sew two pieces of fabric together, you create a seam. For many projects that’s all you need to know. But, if you’re making a garment, the type of seam and seam finish you choose can really impact the outcome. Seams should be compatible with the fabric and the style and function of the garment. Finishing a seam with a serger is a good option, if you own one. Many commercially made garments are finished this way. But it’s far from the only choice.
Here are four seam techniques you should know—and you’ll have all the bases covered.
This is the one used on blue jeans and woven shirts so they’re completely finished and smooth on the inside. It’s a sturdy seam and the best choice for garments that are worn and washed a lot. But, I like to use it on my quilted jackets as well because it adds a nice construction detail.
Here’s the traditional method:
On many of my quilted jackets, I do a variation that I call a serged flat fell. I like it because it’s less bulky and, frankly, easier to do. I sew the seams right sides together, trim away the seam allowance on one side, serge the other seam allowance just along the edge, press that seam allowance over the first, turn the garment to the right side, and topstitch 1/4 inch from the seamline, catching in the seam allowance underneath.
Use this seam on sheer fabrics or very lightweight fabrics. This technique completely encases the seam allowances and it is very pretty on see-through garments. Allow a 5/8-inch seam and follow these steps:
The Pinked Seam
I mention this one because it’s a very easy way to finish a seam and, for some fabrics, it’s the best way. Use it with lightweight, stable fabrics and on garments that are not going to be worn or cleaned a lot—like taffeta formalwear, for instance. Pinking prevents the fabric from fraying, and it breaks up the straight cut edge of the seam allowance so there is not a visible ridge on the garment's right side once the seam is pressed. But, pinking needs to be done properly to be effective.
The Hong Kong Finish
This is a couture technique and a beautiful way to finish the seams on an unlined jacket. It requires binding the edges of each seam allowance with a narrow strip of lightweight fabric that’s cut on the bias.
A word of caution: Make sure your garment fits before you trim the seams!