All About Sewing Seams
Need a refresher on the different types of seams at your disposal? Or maybe you’re starting out and doing research to better acquaint yourself with your machine and your project? This guide is here to help! Below is a list of some of the most commonly used types of seams and how you can use them, so you can get back to your project with the confidence and knowledge you need to make it the best you can!
This type of seam is the most basic in the sewing trade, and it’s the simplest. A Plain Seam is identified as a seam that is stitched between two pieces of fabrics, right sides together. Whether you’re using a straight stitch, zigzag, or something else, so long as the seam consists of two raw edges lined up with the right sides together and are sewn down, you are looking at a Plain Seam.
They can be used in almost any project, and they can be finished in a variety of ways by pressing flat and then trimming with pinking shears, overlocking/serging the raw edges, using zigzag stitching, and more. Plain Seams are best used for thinner fabrics and looser garments, like flowing t-shirts and blouses.
A Double-Stitched Seam is like a Plain Seam, but a second Plain Seam is sewn between the first and the raw edges of the seam allowance in order to provide a stronger seam for the fabrics being sewn together as well as better keep the fabric from fraying. This type of seam is great for giving a little extra hold to those lighter shirts and other flexible pieces, but it can also be used on garments like pants and jackets being made with lighter-weight fabrics.
Top-Stitched Seams are typically straight stitch seams that are visible from the right side of the fabric. These seams are sewn on top of the right side of the fabric and are used for both practical and decorative purposes, but the main function is to reduce bulk from the seam allowance underneath.
Top-stitching might seem intimidating, but lining the presser foot up to the edge that you’re guiding to makes it very easy! You can use top-stitching on any project, from curtains to blankets to pockets on the front of a shirt, and you can take advantage of the thread’s visibility to add in a subtle flash of color with a different colored thread from the rest of the garment!
Like a Top-Stitched Seam, but completed a second time. These types of seams are more secure than a Top-Stitched Seam alone and allow the bulk from the seam allowance to be distributed more evenly, providing an even smoother finish.
Double Top-Stitched Seams are often used for blanket edges and pocket borders, or something similar both to help strengthen the project’s “high-traffic areas” and stabilize shape. It can look really sharp, too!
French Seams are very flattering visually, both on the inside and outside of the garment. This is a seam where the wrong sides of the fabric edges are sewn together and are then tucked between the right sides and sewn down again so that the raw edges are tucked away and smooth (think like a long, thin pocket for the first seam to sit in). This leaves both the right and wrong sides of the seam looking clean and finished.
French seams are often used with thin fabrics, but they can also be used when garments or pieces that will not have a lining, such as a bag or shirt. If you’d like to see more details on how to install A French Seam, follow this link here!
A Mock French Seam is exactly what it sounds like—it’s done a little differently than a French Seam, but the end result looks very similar.
This type of seam is a Plain Seam that is finished by pressing the seam allowance flat and then folding the raw edges in, ironing them again, and finally sewing the seam allowance edges together with another Plain Seam to give the appearance of a French Seam.
Installing a Mock French Seam takes a little more effort and ironing than a regular French Seam, but it saves on thread, which is useful if you’re doing a large garment or using lots of seams! It’s also useful if you don’t have enough seam allowance or fabric to wrap around the first Plain Seam a second time like a French Seam calls for.
Flat Felled Seams are seams where a Plain Seam is first used to sew a right and wrong side together, and then the edges are tucked into each other in a way that locks them in, and is then sewn down again with another Plain Seam along the other side of the seam’s width.
This is another great method for hiding and protecting the raw edges from exposure, and it leaves the seam looking clean and tidy. It is also the strongest type of seam and a method that should be used on heavier fabrics that need more security to hold them together, such as side seams pants or jeans. High-traffic areas and points of stress on garments need a little more strength, so keep Flat Felled Seams in mind!
This type of seam is similar to a Top-Stitched Seam, but it skips the step of straight-stitching.
In this type of seam, the right sides are facing together, the raw edge of one piece of fabric is folded under, and then a Plain Seam is sewn as a Top-Stitch above where the raw edge is tucked under to help lock in the raw edge onto the right side of the other piece of fabric.
This type of stitch is stronger than Plain Seams and is another good choice when working with heavier fabrics and garments like bags and pants.
Similar to a Welt Seam, the Double Welt Seam is a seam where you sew down a Welt Seam and then sew a top-stitch seam onto the folded edge to help reduce the bulk of the seam and keep it from popping back up. This second seam helps to stabilize the first one and it provides an appealing border along the seam’s edge.
Slot Seams are best used for decorative projects like upholstery or crafting due to the fact that it allows for the addition of accenting fabrics and colors.
These seams start with a Plain Seam to baste two pieces of fabric together and is followed by sewing the right side of a contrasting strip of fabric along the right side of the raw edges of the seam allowance from the basting seam on both sides, and then the basting seam is ripped so that the contrasting fabric is visible.
This type of seam is as strong as a Double-Stitched Seam and has a primarily decorative purpose, but if styled smart, it can make a nice contour on a jacket or pair of pants.
Corded Seams have a similar purpose that Slot Seams do, but instead of flashing off a contrasting fabric, Corded Seams highlight corded trim that you use between two layers of fabric in the seam.
It is sewn by layering cording between two layers of a fabric, right sides together, and sewing a Plain Seam underneath the cording so that the cording is visible from the right side of the garment but the stitching and seam are not. This type of seam is great for adding decoration on edges of pillows or different types of bags, or for contouring a garment. Good places for Corded Seams on garments would be places our wat to accentuate, for example, shoulders, necklines, etc.
And lastly, Bias Bound Seams. Bias Bound Seams take a little bit of patience, but so long as you sew right along their shape, they usually come out looking clean and crisp. The design is fairly simple, too; these types of seams are ones where the raw edges of the seam are covered by bias tape to help protect and keep the edges from being damaged or stressed.
A Plain Seam is used to bring the two pieces of fabric together, and then bias tape is used to cover both raw edges together as one or on each of the two raw edges separately. A Plain Seam is used to close the bias tape around the raw edges, and you have the option of pressing the two edges flat and away from each other should you need to cut down on bulk (this is only an option if you use bias tape on the raw edges separately).
Regardless of which you choose to do, this type of seam leaves a clean look on the inside of the fabric and does not affect the outside. This method is often used on dresses and other garments that will go without linings.
Was this guide helpful to you? Did you read about any seams in this article that you hadn’t known about previously? These are just a handful of seam options, but they’re some of the more traditional ones around, so consider using them in your sewing repertoire!