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Basic Seam Finishes

Let’s talk about the inside of your finished garment, mainly the seams.  When we are new at sewing we think to ourselves. “I don’t think that I could make a garment and have it look like it came from a store.

Don’t cut yourself down by saying that, with a little effort and practice you will be making clothes you wear just as professional as the skirt you just bought at the store.

Somewhere someone had to learn how to sew garments since we have been wearing them all of our lives but we don’t think about that history of how sewing has evolved.

Of course we don’t need to use a needle and thread and hand to sew our clothes anymore because we have machines that do the stitching for us. Thank goodness for that. My fingers and joints are getting old and holding the needle hurts after a while.

Don’t you want to make a skirt and finish the seams just like the ones in the store. Having the seams be finished help your garment look like a million bucks and everyone will ask, “Where did you get that beautiful skirt? Inside you will just smile and say that it was custom made just for me.

Let’s talk about the different ways you can finish the seams and the go over the tools or resources that you will need to finish your seams. While we all don’t have the option of having a serger there are several alternatives to get a finished seam.

I just used the zigzag method for finishing seams with my sewing machine for years until I could afford a serger. Save your pennies and get a serger as soon as you are able. In my post about saving pennies for a reason I talk about using the savings at the fabric store to put away money for a bigger purchase. Buying a serger will save you time and your finished seams will have an even more professional finish.

So no sweat! You can do this!

Tools you will need

  • Pinking Sheers 
  • Sewing Machine and thread 
  • Serger and thread

Now for the nitty gritty.

Pinking Sheers

Pinking sheers – These are scissors  with a zigzag edge. It cuts the edge of the fabric in different directions leaving the edge of your seam with jagged cuts so it will limit the amount of fraying.  

Sewing Machine

You have 2 options on your sewing machine.  

Option 1 is using the Zig Zag stitch on both sides of your seam. This does take time because you are literally sewing the same seam three times but does the job nicely.

Option 2  is the mock serger seam. This is found on most new machines. It does the same job but looks more like a serger or overlock finished edge.

Serger

What did you say? You don’t know what a serger is?

A serger is a piece of machinery that allows threads to be joined to make a finished edge by using three or four threads to cover the edge of the seam. The edge of the fabric is trimmed just before the threads are joined with an over lock stitch all in one swoop making a finished edge on your seam. Now you have a finished product like the stores.

Let’s Practice with Pinking Sheers

Take two pieces of fabric about 6 to 8 inches square and place them right sides together. Sew them with a 5/8″ seam allowance on your sewing machine.

If you choose you can cut both layers of the fabric at the same time, but cutting them one at a time makes it easier to cut the fabric.

I like to press the seam open before I cut with the pinking sheers. Pressing the seam open is allowing your iron to be gently pressed down on your fabric without sliding it back and forth.

When the seam is pressed open you are going to take your pinking sheers and carefully cut away the very edge of the seam to make a zigzag cut line. While this is an older way of finishing the seams it works to minimize the fraying of your seams. Even in today’s world of sewing you will find that a pair of pinking sheers are need for some sewing.

Let’s Practice the ZigZag

Note: Make sure that you have a ZigZag or Overlock presser foot in your sewing machine. These are for my machine, I use a Bernina. We don’t want to break a needle.

ZigZag Presser Foot
Overlock Presser Foot

Take two pieces of fabric about 6 to 8 inches square and place them right sides together. Sew them with a 5/8″ seam allowance on your sewing machine.

You are now going to press the seam open. Press both sides of the seam to one side first and then pressing the seam open. Allow your iron to do the pressing without sliding your iron back and forth will leave a seam that has not been stretched.

When the seam is pressed open you are going to sew with the Zig Zag stitch on either side of the seam. While this looks better than pinking it still doesn’t quite fit the bill for a professional seam.

Let’s practice the Mock Serger Seam

Take two pieces of fabric about 6 to 8 inches square and place them right sides together. Sew them with a 5/8″ seam allowance on your sewing machine.

You are now going to press the seam open. Press both sides of the seam to one side first. Allow your iron to do the pressing without sliding your iron back and forth will leave a seam that has not been stretched.

When the seam has been pressed you will need to trim the seam down to 1/4″. Select the Mock Serger stitch on your sewing machine and sew down the whole seam.

This Mock Serger seam really does look like you have a serger by finishing the edges and looking like a professional seam. This especially works well on small areas of your garment or doll clothes.

Let’s Practice with the Serger

The same as before you will take two pieces of fabric about 6 to 8 inches square and place them right sides together. Sew them with a 5/8″ seam allowance on your sewing machine.

Next you will serged the edge of your seam. 

Take special notice of the markings on your serger. All sergers usually have lines showing the 1/4″ and 5/8″ mark showing where the straight stitching line is and where you need to align up your fabric so that the serged area of the seam will be close to the straight line.

For this demonstration I used the far left red mark to align my fabric. Sew down the seam of your garment. Now press the seam to one side. Your seam, looks just like the store purchased apparel.

Compare the two together and see for yourself. You are a professional.

Don’t fall . . . Apart . . . at the SEAMS

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