Seven Types of Seams: How to Use them in Garments13.12.2021
The seams give structure and shape to all garments, from the hem to pockets to darts in blouses and to the hems of shirts. There are many different types of seams. When choosing which seam to use for your garment, consider its type and purpose.
Consistent stitches and high-quality seam finishes will be important for higher-end garments. For casual styles, frayed seams or variety stitches are acceptable.
What is a Seam?
A seam is a way to join two or more pieces together using thread. You can also use glue or other adhesives. You can either sew your seams by hand or by machine.
Seams can be either open or closed.
- An open seam is one in which the seam allowance (the piece of fabric that lies between the edges of the material and the stitching) is visible.
- Closed seams include the seam allowance in the seam finish making them invisible.
What are the uses of seams in garments?
As they connect the fabric together, seams are essential to any garment or accessory made of fabric.
- For finishing necklines and edges, seams can be used to make hems.
- Seams give shape to the body through elements such as darts. These are used to shape hips and waists.
- Seams are used for creating pleats and fabric gathering. Find out more about pleats in this comprehensive guide to types of pleats.
- You can use different types of seams to give a garment a unique look and conceal the edges for both aesthetic and practical reasons.
Which type of seam should you use?
The type of fabric and final look you desire will determine the type of seam that you choose.
- Certain seams, like French seams are better for fabrics of lighter weight, such as cotton.
- For denim and other tough fabrics, the flat felled seam is a better choice than bulkier enclosed seams like the flat felled seam.
- You should also choose the correct length stitch. The longer the stitch, the more likely it is for the material to pucker. Stitches that are too short can cause unwelcome plaits.
7 Types of Seams
There are many types of seams. Each one has its own characteristics.
- Plain seam. Plain seams can be used on nearly any item. They are the simplest types of seams. A plain seam is any seam that joins two pieces of fabric with their wrong sides facing. When a garment or item is finished, the wrong side is the side that is not facing outward. It doesn’t matter what stitch length you use or the type of stitch, so long as there is only one stitch line and it attaches to two pieces of fabric.
- Double-stitched seam. This seam works just like a regular seam, but it has two lines of stitching that attach the fabric to give it extra strength.
- French seam. French seams should be used only on delicate and lightweight fabrics like chiffon and organza. The seam can become bulky with heavy fabrics. This technique does not expose the edges of the fabric, so a French seam works well for garments that have hidden seams like an unlined jacket.
- Bound seam. Bound seams look like French seams on the right side. The right side of the fabric has no visible stitches, while the edges are enclosed neatly on the opposite.
- Flat-felled seam. Flat-felled seams are strong closed seams that are often used in items such as jeans. It protects the seam’s edges and keeps them flat. It is closed and double-stitched like the french seam.
- Welt seam. The welt seam is often used in jeans. It is stronger than the flat-felled seam, but is more manageable because it isn’t enclosed and the fabric’s raw edge is visible.
- Lapped seam. Lapped seams are typically used for fabrics that don’t fray like leather or fleece. A lapped seam is when the right side of the fabric faces upwards and the pieces are overlapping, rather than right or wrong sides together.
4 Seam Finishing Techniques
Open seams are those where the seam allowance is visible. The raw edges must be finished to prevent fraying. These are some ways to finish open seams.
Pinking shears. Pinking shears can be serrated scissors with a zigzag edge. Pinking shears are useful for trimming seam allowances to prevent fraying.
Bias tape. Bias tape can be used to hide and secure edges by folding a narrow strip from fabric over exposed seams. This tape is used to cover the edges of quilts and unlined bags and garments.
Serger. Sergers are a special type or sewing machine that cuts raw edges and makes overlocked stitches as the seam is sewn. Serged seams can be found on most clothing stores.
Zigzag stitch. Zigzag stitching along a raw seam edge will ensure edges are secure and prevent fraying.