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Learn how to sew finishing seams without a serger!
Why finish your seams? Well, finishing seams make the inside of your garment look professional and neat and if you're like me, you always want the inside to be as pretty as the outside. Secondly, they prevent your fabric from raveling when laundered. Thirdly, they can actually provide some structural importance, in the case of jeans, for example. This easy to follow tutorial will walk you through five of my favorite seams!

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  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 1
    Step 1

    *We'll be using 5/8 seam allowance through this tutorial.*

    We'll begin with a regular seam, just so we're all clear on what we're doing here.

    I'd like to emphasize that while the seams I'm about to show you are done on small, sample pieces of fabric, please remember that these can be used on side seams (skirt front to skirt back, bodice front to bodice back, tote bag front to tote bag back etc.), and adjoining seams (adding a contrasting cuff onto the bottom of a curtain, or sewing up pillowcases) just to name a few.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 2
    Step 2

    Place your fabric right sides together.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 3
    Step 3

    Pin.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 4
    Step 4

    Sew a 5/8" seam.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 5
    Step 5

    Here is the resulting, regular, unfinished seam.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 6
    Step 6

    And this is what our regular, unfinished, seam looks like from the outside of your project.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 7
    Step 7

    The French Seam: This seam is great for sheer, lightweight fabrics such as voile, lawn, silks and lace. This is, hands down, the finishing seam I use the most. I use it to finish the majority of the dresses and blouses I make. I also finish all the pillowcases I sell on my Etsy store will french seams so that they don't unravel after being washed.

    We're going to start with wrong sides together. If that seems weird to you, you're right, it is weird, but I promise I'm not leading you astray. Trust me!

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 8
    Step 8

    Pin.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 9
    Step 9

    Sew a 3/8" seam.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 10
    Step 10

    Then we have something that looks like this. The picture below has both seam allowances pushed to one side.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 11
    Step 11

    We're then going to trim both of the seam allowance to just under 1/4".

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 12
    Step 12

    ...

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 13
    Step 13

    Then, fold the fabric right sides together.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 14
    Step 14

    ...

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 15
    Step 15

    Press.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 16
    Step 16

    Pin.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 17
    Step 17

    Sew again, this time with a 1/4" seam allowance.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 18
    Step 18

    Ta da! Now you have encased the original seam allowance inside the second seam. Here is the seam from the back. No raw edges, woo!

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 19
    Step 19

    The french seam is incredibly neat on the inside and doesn't change the external appearance of your project at all.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 20
    Step 20

    2. The Clean Finished Seam
    This seam is excellent for light to medium weight fabrics. Because this seam results in visible seams on the outside of your garment, it is good to use for garments such as unlined jackets and skirts where top-stitching can add be a cute detail. It can, of course, be used for plenty of other projects as well.

    We'll start with right sides together.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 21
    Step 21

    Pin.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 22
    Step 22

    Sew with 5/8" seam allowance.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 23
    Step 23

    Press seam allowance open.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 24
    Step 24

    Down each edge of the seam allowance, turn under 1/4".

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 25
    Step 25

    It will look like this when both sides have been folded under.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 26
    Step 26

    Pin.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 27
    Step 27

    Stitch down each side of the seam allowance, just a hair from the edge.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 28
    Step 28

    ...

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 29
    Step 29

    Your resulting finished seam will look like this on the inside!

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 30
    Step 30

    And will look like this on the outside!

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 31
    Step 31

    3. The Flat Felled Seam
    This great finishing seam is often used in denim jeans (take a look at the seam on the inside of your leg if you have jeans on. That's a commercial version of what I'm about to show you!). It is also good for sports clothing and kids clothes because it's tough and adds strength to the seams of your garments.

    We'll start with right sides together. Pin.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 32
    Step 32

    Sew with 5/8" seam allowance.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 33
    Step 33

    Press open seam allowance.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 34
    Step 34

    Trim one side of the seam allowance to just under 1/4".

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 35
    Step 35

    ...

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 36
    Step 36

    On the other side of the seam allowance, fold over 1/4".

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 37
    Step 37

    Press.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 38
    Step 38

    Then, fold the folded edge over the trimmed 1/4" seam allowance.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 39
    Step 39

    ...

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 40
    Step 40

    Pin.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 41
    Step 41

    Stitch down the edge of the folded-over seam allowance, just a hair from the edge.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 42
    Step 42

    And your resulting finished Flat Felled seam will look like this on the inside.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 43
    Step 43

    And will look like this on the outside.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 44
    Step 44

    ...

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 45
    Step 45

    4. The Bias Bound Seam
    This finishing seam looks so darn cute when done in contrasting bias tape. It's perfect for unlined coats, skirts and jackets. It is best for medium and medium/heavy weight fabrics.

    Start with right sides together. Pin.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 46
    Step 46

    Sew with a 5/8" seam allowance.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 47
    Step 47

    Iron out seam allowance.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 48
    Step 48

    Cut a piece of bias tape 1/2 longer than your seam. Fold out right edge of bias tape and press.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 49
    Step 49

    Place your fabric right sides together, leaving one seam allowance out.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 50
    Step 50

    Place your bias tape over the seam allowance, long edges even. Pin.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 51
    Step 51

    ...

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 52
    Step 52

    Stitch in the "ditch" left by the fold of the bias tape (that's what my scissor tips are pointing to). You'll be stitching through two layers: one layer of bias tape, and one layer of seam allowance.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 53
    Step 53

    Your seam should look something like this.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 54
    Step 54

    Fold bias tape over the seam you just made.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 55
    Step 55

    Flip the whole thing over. Now you'll be looking at the opened seam allowance. Your main fabric pieces are still right sides together.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 56
    Step 56

    ...

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 57
    Step 57

    Fold half of the bias tape over the raw edge of your seam allowance.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 58
    Step 58

    Iron and pin.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 59
    Step 59

    Stitch along the edge of the bias tape (the edge towards the original seam).

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 60
    Step 60

    When it's all finished, one of your finished seam allowances will look like this!

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 61
    Step 61

    Repeat on the other seam allowance and then both finished seams will look like this on the inside!

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 62
    Step 62

    This finished seam doesn't make any changes to the external appearance of the project. Keep in mind that this creates a bit of bulk, and is not suitable for very lightweight or sheer fabrics because the seam finished would create 'lines' that you could see from the outside.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 63
    Step 63

    5. The Self Bound Seam
    I'll be honest. This is not my favorite finishing seam. It's a bit tedious, but it does make an excellent finish on lightweight fabrics that don't ravel easily.

    Start with right sides together.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 64
    Step 64

    Stitch a 5/8" seam.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 65
    Step 65

    Press open seam allowance.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 66
    Step 66

    Trim one side of the seam allowance to 1/8".

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 67
    Step 67

    ...

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 68
    Step 68

    Fold over the edge of the other side of the seam allowance 1/4" and press.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 69
    Step 69

    Tuck the 1/8" seam allowance into the folded over seam allowance.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 70
    Step 70

    Fold the folded edge over the 1/8" piece again and press. (Lots of folding goin' on, eh?)

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 71
    Step 71

    ...

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 72
    Step 72

    Push the main fabric pieces to one side and stitch along the edge of the folded seam allowance that is closer to the original seam.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 73
    Step 73

    When you're done, it should look like this! You'll have two rows of stitching very close to one another.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 74
    Step 74

    This is what it looks like with the main fabric pieces folded out.

  • How to sew a seam. Sewcabulary: Five Different Finishing Seams And How To Sew Them - Step 75
    Step 75

    And this is what it looks like on the outside. This seam doesn't change the outside appearance.

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Comments

girlcousin
girlcousin · Battle Ground, Indiana, US · 1 project
Terrific tutorial! Sent it to a knitting friend of mine who sews little purses with lots of pockets.
Palindrome Dry Goods
Palindrome Dry Goods · 7 projects
Thank you for sharing! I'm so glad you found it helpful, and I hope your friend does too.
Reply
AlterEgo Designs
AlterEgo Designs · Cleveland, Ohio, US · 31 projects
This is a great tutorial! Your instructions are very clear, and the pictures are sure to be a big help. Much better than any of the textbooks we used in school. I'm saving this to pass along for the next time someone asks me for sewing help.
Palindrome Dry Goods
Palindrome Dry Goods · 7 projects
Haha oh gosh, thank you! That is quite a compliment. Thank you for sharing and for commenting!
Reply