2/28 | All About Sewing Seams

If you’re learning to sew, this post All About Sewing Seams is going to be really helpful for you. Seams are the backbone of any sewing project. When you join two pieces of fabric together, you get a seam.

Most sewing projects will then have many seams so it’s really important to understand the basics of creating seams. And, with anything in sewing, practice makes perfect!

All About Sewing Seams

When you’re first starting out, try sewing some simple straight seams. Once you’ve perfected those, move on to more advanced pivoted and curved seams. Don’t get intimidated by them. They just require a little more patience and attention.

The first step in creating a seam is to put the two pieces of fabric together and secure them. This is typically done with straight pins or clips but basting stitches may also be used.

Seam Allowances

Next, you need to check the seam allowance needed for your project. The most common for home sewing projects is 5/8” but ¼” and ½” are often used as well. The throat plate on your sewing machine almost always has lines and numbers marking these seam allowances for you. If those aren’t present, you can measure and mark your own seam gauge.

Be sure to check your needle position before sewing your seam. Most of the time, you will want it set to the center position and if you’ve never changed it before for other projects like sewing zippers or piping, that’s likely where it is already. The wrong needle position will throw off your seam allowance.

Do a Test Run

When ready to sew, it’s always a good idea to make a test run. Load your machine with the thread you will be using for your sewing project. Set your machine to the correct stitch length and adjust the tension if needed. Grab some scraps of your project fabric and sew a short seam. This will help you ensure that you’re getting the correct results.

Start and finish each seam with backstitching to hold your line of stitching in place. As you sew, keep an eye on the seam guide to make sure that your stitching is straight and lined up to the proper seam allowance. Don’t be afraid to stop stitching, take a pause, and then start again if needed.

Stitching Corners and Curves

When it comes to stitching corners, you will need to pivot and make a turn with your fabric. With your needle still lowered into the fabric, lift the presser foot. Pivot the fabric on the needle to make the necessary turn. Lower the presser foot and continue stitching.

Sewing straight seams is simple and straightforward, but when it comes to curves, you’re going to want to take your time. Slow down and watch the seam allowance guide carefully. It’s not difficult to sew a curved seam but it does require a little more care and attention.

Finishing Seams

Depending on the type of fabric you are using, you may need to finish your seams. The purpose of finishing a seam is to stabilize it and prevent fraying. Look inside one of your own garments and you’ll see some of the ways seams are finished off.

The three most common seam finishes are zigzag stitching, cutting with pinking shears, and a clean finish with a line of straight stitches. Your choice will depend on what type of fabric you’re using and what type of project you’re making. Pattern instructions will generally indicate what type of seam finish is required.

Pressing Open Your Seams

You will also notice in your sewing pattern instructions, that often after sewing a seam, it will say to “press open your seam”. What exactly does this mean? It’s important to know that pressing and ironing are not the same thing. Ironing means to move the iron back and forth across the fabric. When pressing a seam, you are using the tip of the iron to apply pressure to the open seam, one small section at a time.

It’s tempting to skip this step. Let’s be honest. It can feel a bit tedious. Proper pressing of seams is what can take your finished sewing project from beginner to professional. It makes a big difference in the finished look of your project.

Clipping and Trimming to Reduce Bulk

Before turning your sewing projects right-side out, you’ll need to do some clipping. With corners, you need to snip off the tip of the corner at a 45-degree angle. Be sure not to cut through your stitches. This helps reduce some of the bulk of the fabric. From the right side, your corners will look sharp and neat with the fabric lying flat, with no unsightly bumps or ridges.

With curved seams, you will be instructed in the pattern to clip the curve either by snipping or by notching the fabric. Making a series of straight snips or clipping notches (triangular shapes) into the seam allowance helps remove any bunching of the fabric and allows the curve to lay flat. Be sure not to cut through your stitching.

In some cases, the pattern may call for you to trim away the width of the seam allowance, close to the stitches, to reduce the bulk in a curved seam in place of clipping. Cut slowly and carefully – you want to get close to the stitches but not so close that you cut through them or cause them to pull out.

Need more help with sewing? We have tons of sewing tips, tricks, and tutorials here. 

It sounds like a lot but really, sewing seams is one of the most basic things you can do in sewing. Once you know how to do it properly, it’s really quite simple! You’ll be making all kinds of fun sewing projects in no time.