How to Sew a Fine Seam
Hand Sewn Seams
Hand sewn seams are very good for the finest fabrics. With an upsurge in the popularity of making 'retro' clothing and handmade 'medieval' attire, the art of producing hand sewn seams is once again coming to the fore.
Of course, we sew most seams today by machine and the results are very similar to those in the samplers, so you could follow the general instructions using a sewing-machine and have similar seams on most fabrics in much less time than it takes to make the seams by hand. A fairly thick cotton fabric has been chosen for the samplers as that helps to make it easier to see how it is done.
Seams are made when we want to join two pieces of fabric together. In this article we show how to hand sew three different types of seams:
- French Seam
- Open Seam
- Flat Seam
How to Make a French Seam
A french seam is a useful way of making sure that a fabric that is inclined to fray at the edges will be contained within the seam. The seam is sewn twice and that helps to make it stronger.
- To make a french seam, place the two pieces of fabric together with the right sides facing each other.
- Pin or tack the two pieces together to hold them firm and then sew the length of the join, as close as possible to the edges. With most fabrics this should be less than half a centimetre from the edge. This is sewn by hand with tiny backstitches. Secure the end firmly with three small backstitches.
- Fold the fabric back the other way so that the right sides are now facing outwards. It is a good idea at this stage to press the fabric flat with a warm iron.
- The edges of the fabric are now hidden and there is a double edge along the seam you have sewn. Pin or tack to keep it firm and then backstitch along about half a centimetre from the new edge, making sure that both the cut edges are inside this seam. Fasten securely at the end.
- Press the seam flat, all in the one direction.
How to Make an Open Seam
Open seams are probably the most used. The finished seam is ironed out flat and is suitable for fine fabrics that are not prone to fray very much.
- Place the two edges together with the right sides of the fabric facing each other.
- Pin and then tack to hold it firm.
- Sew tiny backstitches the length of the seam, about one and a half to two centimetres from the edge. Secure firmly with three small back-stiches.
- Press the seam open.
- Unless the edges of the seam are selvedges, they should be sewn to prevent unravelling of the fabric. Two methods are shown in the sampler. The upper edge has been turned under about three millimetres and hemmed close to the edge. The lower edge of the seam allowance has been oversewn with very small stitches. If using a sewing machine, zig-zag edging is useful for a quick finish to prevent fraying and can be done before or after sewing the main seam.
How to Make a Flat Seam
The flat seam is also called the flat felled seam. It is suitable for fabrics that require strong seams that will not fray.
- Place the wrong sides of the fabric together, pin, tack and then sew them together, about one and a half cm from the edges.
- Iron the seam flat, pressing both seam allowances to the same side.
- Trim the underneath seam allowance to about half its width.
- Fold a narrow edge of the top seam allowance under to make a hem. Make sure that it covers the trimmed edge under it and press carefully.
- Pin and tack this in place. Stitch as close as possible to the folded edge.
Embroidery and Needlework
- Wool Embroidery: A Victorian Pincushion
Pincushions were really popular articles to make in Victorian times. Instructions are given here for designing and making a simple Victorian style pincushion that will give years of service to any embroiderer.
- How to Learn Embroidery Stitches
Hand embroidery for the beginner is not difficult, although it does require a little patience. The basic materials needed can be quite inexpensive, too. Instructions for four basic stitches are given with some of their variations.