Special Sewing Techniques (1)

Sewing Special Seams

When sewing, you may have occasion to use something different from a plain seam. Seams can enclose the seam allowance and create decorative effects. Some seaming techniques are needed to stitch special areas.


Self-finished seams enclose the seam allowances as the seam is stitched. They provide a more attractive appearance and strengthen seams. Self-finished seams include the French seam, flat-felled seam, double-stitched seam, and narrow serged seam.

French Seam

A French seam works well on sheer fabric because no raw edges show through. The seam looks like a plain seam on the garment's outside and a narrow tuck on the wrong side. This seam can be used on straight seams but isn't flexible enough for curved seams. Here's how the seam is created.

1. Pin the wrong sides of the fabric together.

2. Stitch 3/8 inch (9 mm) from the raw edges.

Trim the seam allowances to 1/8 inch (3 mm).

Press the seam allowances open.

3. Fold the fabric along the seam line with right sides together. Press.

4. Stitch 1/4 inch (6 mm) from the folded edge. The two seams, 3/8 inch and 1/4 inch (9 mm and 6 mm), combine to make a 5/8-inch (1.5-cm) seam.

Flat-Felled Seam

You'll find this sturdy and durable seam on shirts, jeans, sportswear, pajamas, and other garments. Two rows of stitching show on the outside of the garment. Contrasting thread can be used as an accent. Follow these steps to make the seam:

1. Pin the wrong sides of the fabric together.

2. Stitch a 5/8-inch (1.5-cm) standard seam.

Press open.

3. Press both seam allowances to one side.

4. Trim the under-seam allowance to 1/8 inch (3mm).

5. Fold in the edge of the upper seam allowance 1/4 inch (6 mm). Place it over the trimmed seam allowance. Press.

6. Stitch close to the folded edge through all thicknesses.

Serging Techniques: Narrow Rolled Seam

A narrow rolled seam is especially good for lingerie fabrics and laces, which are sheer and lightweight.

1. Pin the wrong sides of the fabric together.

2. Adjust the serger for a narrow rolled hem with a 1.5- to 2.5-mm stitch length and a balanced tension.

3. Serge the seam.

Serging Techniques: Reinforced Seam

In areas of stress, combining a serged seam with one sewn conventionally creates a stronger seam.

1. Stitch the seam on a conventional machine, using a straight stitch.

2. Press the seam allowances flat, as they were stitched.

3. Serge the edges together, using the two-thread serger stitch, 1/8 inch (3mm) from the seam line.

Double-Stitched Seam

As described below, this seam works well on curved seams, such as armhole or crotch seams.

1. Stitch a 5/8-inch (1.5-cm) standard seam, with right sides of the fabric together.

2. Stitch again about 1/8 inch (3 mm) from the seam line in the seam allowance. A narrow zigzag stitch can be used for this second row of stitching.

3. Trim the seam allowances close to the stitching.


Decorative seams create special effects with topstitching or cording. They give a sporty, tailored, or contrasting finish to a garment.

Decorative seams include the topstitched seam, welt seam, lapped seam, and piped or corded seam.

Topstitched Seam

Topstitching holds bulky seam allowances flat and emphasizes the seams of a garment.

Topstitching can be done on one or both sides of a seam. Follow these steps:

1. Stitch a 5/8-inch (1.5-cm) standard seam.

Press the seam allowances open.

2. Topstitch along each side of the seam, through both layers of fabric. Keep stitching a straight and equal distance from the seam


As an alternative, you can press both seam allowances to one side as indicated on the pat tern. Topstitch through all three layers of fabric.

---Double Row of Topstitching

--- Single row of Topstitching

Welt Seam

Because it's less bulky than the flat-felled seam, a welt seam gives a tailored finish on heavier fabrics. Follow these steps:

1. Stitch a 5/8-inch (1.5-cm) standard seam, with right sides of the fabric together. Press the seam open.

2. Press both seam allowances to one side.

3. Trim the seam allowance against the garment to 1/4 inch (6 mm).

4. Stitch from the outside through the garment and the wider seam allowance. Keep stitching an even distance from the seam line.

Serging Techniques: Topstitched Seam

A serged seam can be topstitched once or twice for a sporty look. Press the serged seam to one side. Then topstitch on a conventional machine.

Lapped Seam

With this seam, one piece is lapped over the other and topstitched in place. It’s often used with natural or synthetic leather and suede.

Follow these steps to make a lapped seam:

1. Turn the seam allowance under on the section to be lapped. Press. For leather and suede, trim away the seam allowance.

2. Lap the folded or trimmed edge over the other piece at the seam line, wrong side to right side.

3. Edgestitch along the folded or trimmed edge.

4. Topstitch again 1/4 inch (6 mm) from the edge.

Piped or Corded Seam

Piping is a narrow band of fabric stitched into a seam to accent the seam line or outer edge of a garment. As the procedure below describes, piping can be inserted into a seam while it’s stitched.

Cording covered with bias strips of fabric may also be used.

1. Pin the piping or cording to the right side of one fabric section along the seam line. Be sure the piping or cording is facing the garment and the seam allowance is toward the edge of the fabric.

2. Stitch close to the seam line in the seam allowance, using a zipper foot.

3. Pin the second piece of fabric over the piping or cording, with right sides together.

4. Stitch along the seam line through all thick nesses, using a zipper foot.

Serging Techniques: Flatlock Seam

A flatlock seam is a good choice for straight seams on knit fabric.

• The traditional flatlock seam is formed by using the two-thread serger stitch.

• A mock flatlock seam is created with the three-thread serger stitch. Loosen the needle tension almost as much as possible, and tighten the lower looper tension. When the serger is properly adjusted, the needle thread forms a V on the underside of the fabric. The lower looper thread forms a straight line along the fabric edge.

• For both types of flatlock seams, serge the seam. Then gently pull on the layers until the fabric lies flat and the cut edges meet. The stitch will have a ladder-like appearance on one side of the garment and loops on the other.


Making Tucks and Pleats

Tucks and pleats are folds of fabric that control fullness or add design interest.

They are folded and then pressed or stitched in place.


The narrow folds of fabric on tucks may be stitched part way or the entire length. The width of the tucks and the spacing between them varies according to design. The pattern indicates narrow pin tucks by a series of fold lines.

Wide tucks usually have both fold and stitching lines indicated. Follow the pattern guide for stitching directions. The basic steps are as follows:

1. Mark the stitching and fold lines for each tuck. To save time, use clips to mark the ends of stitching lines, and notches to mark the ends of fold lines.

2. Fold the fabric along the fold lines, matching stitching lines.

3. Stitch each tuck from the side that will be seen after the tuck is pressed flat. Keep stitching straight and even.

4. Press each tuck flat, as stitched. Then press each tuck to one side, as shown on the guide sheet.

SEWING TIP: Adding tucks. You can add your own tucks to a garment by tucking the fabric before cutting out the pattern pieces. Be sure to purchase extra fabric to allow for the tucks.


Pleats are folds of fabric that are wider than tucks and stitched or pressed in place. A garment may have one single pleat or a series. Pleats can be pressed sharp along the edges or fall in soft folds.

For a more tailored look, they can also be stitched.

The way pleats are turned creates various effects.

On knife pleats the folds are turned in one direction. Turning two pleats toward each other makes box pleats and inverted pleats.

Follow the guide sheet for specific instructions on folding, pressing, and stitching pleats.

Some basic steps are provided here.

Pleat Styles: Knife; Box; Inverted

Serging Techniques: Tucks

Tucks can be stitched on the serger.

Mark and fold the fabric the same as for conventional tucks.

• For pin tucks, adjust the serger for the narrow rolled hemstitch.

• For wider tucks, use the three-thread or four-thread serger stitch. Disengage the knife, or keep the fold slightly to the left of the knife so the fabric is not cut.

• For decorative tucks, use metallic thread, embroidery floss, pearl cot ton, or narrow ribbon in the upper looper.

Folding Pleats

1. Mark the fold line and placement line for each pleat. If the pleats are to be made from the right side, clip and notch the ends of the lines or mark with a fabric marking pen.

Placement line Folding a Pleat; Fold line

2. Fold the fabric, matching the fold and placement lines, and pin.

An arrow on the pattern piece shows the direction to fold.

3. Stay-stitch the pleats along the upper seam line.

Pressing Pleats

1. Press pleats gently from the inside of the garment. If the pleats leave an impression on the fabric, slip strips of paper under each fold before pressing.

2. Turn the garment to the right side.

3. Press the pleats in place, using a press cloth.

For soft pleats, press lightly. For sharp pleats, use plenty of steam and a damp press cloth.

4. Let the pleats dry on the ironing board.

Stitching Pleats

Pleats may be topstitched or edgestitched for a smoother appearance. Stitching also holds the pleats in place. For pleats that are edgestitched and topstitched, do edgestitching first.

Edgestitching, described here, gives a sharper crease along the outer or inner fold of a pleat.

1. Complete the hem.

2. Stitch from the bottom of the pleat to the top as close to the fold as possible.

3. Repeat on the other fold of the pleat, if desired.

Topstitching is stitched only part way, usually between the waist and hip areas. Use this technique.

1. Topstitch from the right side through all thicknesses.

Begin at the hip; don't backstitch.

Stitch to pleat top.

2. Pull threads to the under side and tie.

Pressing Pleats; Edgestitching Pleats; Topstitching Pleats


Applying Interfacings

Interfacing a layer of fabric that is placed between the facing and the outer fabric of a garment. As part of the inner construction, interfacing provides shape and support for the outer fabric, although it shouldn't show on the outside.

Interfacing gives shape to collars, cuffs, and waistbands. It prevents edges on necklines and front closings from stretching and gives added body to a belt, bag, or hat. Sometimes a separate pattern piece is provided for interfacing. If not, the interfacing is cut from the facing, collar, cuff, or waistband pattern piece.

Special woven, knitted, and nonwoven inter facing fabrics are available in many types and weights. Sew-in interfacings are stitched by machine or by hand to the garment. Fusible inter facings are fused directly to the fabric with an iron, using a combination of heat, steam, and pressure. Always follow the manufacturer's fusing directions carefully.

When choosing interfacing, always drape the garment fabric over the interfacing. How do the two fabrics look and feel together? Check to be sure they are compatible in weight and fiber con tent. Also make sure the fabrics take the same cleaning and pressing methods.

Interfacing adds shape to parts of a garment and keeps fabric from stretching.


Interfacings. Usually the interfacing should be slightly lighter in weight than the outer fabric. Remember that some fusible interfacings are crisper after fusing. Always pretest on a scrap of fabric to be sure you like the results.

Minimizing bulk. To minimize bulk, trim either sew-in or fusible interfacing diagonally at corners. Trim just inside the point where the seam lines meet. Also trim off any hem allowances on the interfacing pieces before stitching or fusing to the garment fabric.



To use sew-in interfacing, cut the interfacing pieces according to the directions on the guide sheet. Lightweight to medium-weight interfacing can be stitched into the seam of a garment.

Follow these steps:

1. Pin the interfacing to the wrong side of the garment or facing.

2. Machine-baste 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) from the fabric edge.

3. Trim the interfacing close to the stitching.

4. Catchstitch the interfacing by hand along a folded edge, such as an extended facing or cuff.

--- Stitching Interfacing


Before applying fusible interfacing to garment sections, test the fusing process on a scrap of fabric. If the interfacing leaves an outline along the edge, then fuse it to the facing rather than the garment. Follow these steps:

1. Trim any corners or hem allowances. For medium-weight interfacings, trim away all seam allowances.

2. Place the adhesive side of interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric, matching the cut edges of the interfacing to the seam lines.

3. Fuse in place, using a press cloth and following the fusing directions.

----Applying Fusible Interfacing


Special Sewing Techniques (2)


Friday, 2012-10-12 9:55