seam flat fell 5

Tutorial: 3 killer seams

Erk! It’s another tutorial and this time it’s about seams, three of them to be exact. Put simply, they’re where different pieces of fabric join together, whether it’s with machine sewing or hand stitching (backstitch is best for this). Yeah, I’m spelling it out but this is all about making sewing accessible so stick with me. Anyway, yes, three seams: plain seams, French seams and flat fell seams. Gird yourselves…

Plain seams

These are, pardon the technical term, piss easy. In fact you’ll use these seams waaaaay more than any other for that very reason. Start by laying two pieces of fabric right sides together (the sides where the patterns are brightest need to be hidden from view). Line up the raw edges. Handsew or machine stitch in a straight line approx 5mm(ish) in from the raw edge.



Open out the seam and turn it so that you can see the right sides. See how they’re not completely flat? Well iron that seam by opening out the raw edges at the back and running the iron along it.



I know, I know, ironing is grim but trust me when I tell you that it transforms the finish of your sewing. I never iron my own clothes but everything I make gets ironed into submission. It’s worth every second and will make your work look bogglingly crisp. DO IT! *puts on stern face*



French seams

Bugger me, I love these seams. They’re stupidly easy but they look utterly professional when you do them. They enclose the raw edges of seams so are cracking for kids’ clothes or fabrics that are more delicate where you need to keep everything tucked away. Frankly, though, I use them wherever I can because they make me feel smug.

Start by placing the wrong sides of the fabric together (resist all of your urges to put it right sides together), lining up the raw edges. Machine stitch or handsew along the length of the fabric, approx 6 mm from the raw edge.




Now, grab the scissors and trim these raw edges until the seam is just three mm deep. It looks narrow, I know, but do not fear!




Next, fold the right sides of the fabric together so that the seam line is right on the edge of the fabric and the raw edge is tucked away. Pin it in place. Now, stitch another seam line , again 6mm from the edge of the fabric. This will hide the raw edges.




Go on, turn it over when you’re finished and check it out. There should be no hint of raw edge at all. How cool does that look! Too cool, that’s what! Give it an iron to keep it crisp and BOOM! You’ve done a Frenchie!




Flat fell seam

Don’t ask me why this is called a flat fell seam. I just know that it looks really accomplished when it’s done properly and that it makes a really strong seam. It’s the type that you see on the legs of jeans because it’ll stand all sort of mad strain. It might be a bit fiddly but just think, “What would Beyonce do?” and then put on your leotard and kill it.

Start by putting the fabric wrong sides together (keep resisting that right side urge), this time sewing along the length of the fabric a whopping 1.5(ish) cms from the raw edge.




Now, push the top raw edge (or the one facing you) to one side and cut along the bottom raw edge only so that it’s just, say, 3mm deep.




Flip over the fabric so that the larger raw edge is on the bottom and fold it over by a few mms towards the teeny seam edge that you just cut. This will give the larger raw edge a neat finish. Iron it to create a sharp crease.



Then push it flat onto the bottom fabric and so that it covers the narrow raw edge completely. The seam you’ve already made should now be pressed flat. Pin this into place and then stitch along this folded edge, through all of the fabrics.



Check both sides of your fabric to make sure it’s all flat and neat and whoop! You’ve killed it!





If you have to practice these on scraps of fabric, go for it. Seams are usually so hidden that’s it’s easy to be temped into sloppiness. For the love of Christ, resist that sloppiness! Nothing puts me off wearing a garment more than a scrappy seam (no one else can see it but you totally know it’s there) so it’s worth every second of effort. Consider yourself told. Class dismissed!