Sewing doesn’t have to be overwhelming, even when techniques look daunting. Below are some sewing techniques that seem hard to master but will totally up your sewing credentials.
Seams and Special Finishes:
1. Piping: used around waistlines, collarless necks, or to emphasize specific design elements in a garment.
Essentially piping is made by folding a strip of bias tape and sewing it into a seam which can seem a little tricky, so let’s break it down to make it easier.
- Cut a strip of fabric on the bias as long and wide as needed
- Fold bias strip lengthwise in half with the wrong sides together
- Measure the desired distance from the fold and baste the raw edges together
- Match the seam lines up with the bias side of the strip, then pin it in place
- Stitch it to the garment as close to the width of the piping as possible
- Once one layer is attached, add the other seam of the garment
- Pin the right sides of the garment together, then stitch in place the piping layer placed on top for easy stitching
- Trim and grade as needed
2. Bias Binding: Similar to bias tape, bias binding is a great way to finish off garments and give them a professional finish. Unfortunately, sewing binding on some fabrics like stretch knits is a little tricky. Check out these tips to bind with ease.
- Cut fabric strip to the desired length and width on the bias
- Fold strip on either side to meet in the middle, then press in place
- Take both folds to overlap in the middle and press again
- Lay bias binding flat with the wrong side of the binding facing the fabric
- Sew in the first fold line (like a stitch in the ditch)
- On the outside of the fabric fold the remaining fold, then edge stitch on the edge of the bias binding to see the stitch on the outside of the garment
3. Flat-felled Seams: this seam is perfect for working with thicker fabrics or potentially bulky seams like the side seams you’d find in a pair of jeans or sportswear. It creates a clean look without exposed seams by encasing the raw edge of the seam allowance.
- Sew wrong sides together on the desired side with a 5/8th seam allowance
- Finger press the seam open
- Trim one side of the seam allowance, leaving about 1/8th or 1/4th in.
- Hide raw edges by folding larger seam allowance under then folding the entire thing over
- Pin in place, move up the seam, or measure the fold to make sure it’s even
- When the seam is in place, stitch close to the edge
Note: Use the edge of the presser foot or the notches on the side of the presser foot as a reference guide)
4. Princess Seams: For a flattering fit at the bustline, the princess seam is a must-know. It takes the fabric from flat to a perfectly contoured fit for the body.
- Once your pattern pieces have been cut, begin sewing by placing the bodice middle pieces with the wrong sides facing each other
- Place the shorter piece on top then, begin sewing carefully with a 1/2 in. seam allowance
- Stretch the top piece, and adjust it as you reach the curves to perfectly match the upper edges of the bottom layer
- Sew slowly and readjust as needed
- Notch the seams, especially the curves, without cutting the seam line
- Press the seam open to finish and repeat as needed
5. Scalloped Hem: This dome-shaped hem is a finish found at the bottom of a garment that adds a fun touch.
- Measure hemline, then divide by the number of scallops you desire to get the width of each scallop to determine the scallop size and make adjustments as needed
- Use a circular shape like a cup, lid, or protractor to make your shape then, make marks to determine the right scallop size
- Measure scallops to make sure its the right size, then transfer to paper to make sure it looks the right way
- Add scallops to fabric using a marking pen
- Sew across the scallops following then line leaving space at the edge
- Trim the edges, then notch at the curved points
- Flip the scallops right side out and then press
- Use webbing or an invisible stitch to attach the raw edges if you’re using an existing hemline
Breaking down daunting finishes makes them much easier to tackle, so these tips are sure to help take away some of the intimidation factors.
Which difficult sewing techniques would you like to see in a future post?