A Complete Course in Dressmaking/Lesson 1/Seams and their uses

SEAMS AND THEIR USES

Suit your seam to the material and the place. Thick materials need as flat a seam as possible. On the other hand, in thin goods it is often advantageous to give quite a different finish.

We have all heard the remark that a certain garment has a homemade look. It may be, too, that the garment is carefully and neatly made. It is not always the case, but very often the fault can be traced to seams. There is a thick seam where there ought to be a thin one and a tailored finish where there ought to be a delicately handrun seam. And so it goes. The garment isn’t well turned out.

Study your material and use the right seam.

Open Seams.—Where a flat finish is desired, press the edges of a plain seam open. See Fig. 46.

For instance, you would know at a glance that a heavy overcoating ought not to be stitched into a French seam. Four thicknesses of the goods would make a bulky unsightly ridge. However, if the two pieces of the overcoating are placed with the right sides of the goods together and stitched the length of the seam and the seam pressed open, the joining will hardly show.

Fig 46. A complete course in dressmaking, (Vol. 1).png
Fig. (46) An open seam gives a flat finish in thick goods.

The seams of a woolen skirt are often pressed open, too, and where a dress material is heavy, it is best to press open the seams.

The edges of an open seam are finished with a binding or overcast. See Lesson II, for binding.

French Seams.—Probably the French seam is used more than any other in ordinary


Fig. (47) An enlarged view of the first stitching in a French seam
sewing. A French seam is the neatest finish for underwear, cotton dresses, blouses and little girls’ frocks of gingham, chambray, organdie and like materials.

A French seam is also used for silk and no finish is daintier than a French seam hand run in a batiste chemise, an infant’s nainsook frock or a little girl’s party frock of chiffon.

To make a French seam, lay the two pieces to be joined with the wrong sides of the goods together and stitch the length of the seam, running the stitching one-eighth of an inch from the edge. See Fig. 47. Turn the pieces wrong side out and crease along the joining. Press the garment and stitch a second time, running the stitching one-quarter of an inch from the creased edge. See Fig. 48.

This gives a neat finish on both the right and the wrong side of the garment but a French seam won’t answer for every purpose. Don’t use a French seam in thick material. It is too bulky.

Don’t use a French seam where you want a flat finish. For instance, at the shoulder a French seam will make a ridge. Except in sheer materials, an open or double stitched seam is better.

Don’t use a French seam where you want a tailored finish. A tailored blouse or a boy’s shirt looks better with double stitched or lap felled seams.


Fig. (48) The second stitching in making a French seam.

Double Stitched Seams.—If the raw edges of a plain seam are both turned in one direction and the seam stitched a second time, it is called a double stitched seam. See Fig. 49. Such a seam will give a garment a tailored appearance.

Double stitched seams are used in some cases at the side front and side back seams of a coat.


Fig. (49) Double stitched seams are used where a tailored finish is desired.
If a dress is semi-fitted with a dart or side front seams, the dart or seam is usually double stitched. Sometimes where speed is to be considered, it is also used in the place of lap felled seams in blouses and children’s clothing.

To make a double stitched seam, lay the two pieces to be joined with the right sides of the material together and stitch the length of the seam, running the stitching a seam’s width back from the raw edges. The regulation seam allowance is usually three-eighths of an inch. Open up the garment and turn both raw edges of the seam in one direction. Press the garment and stitch again. This time stitch from the right side of the garment and run the stitching parallel to the seam.

Here is where a sewing machine foot with a gage comes in handy. The gage can be set the distance you want the stitching from the seam. Then, in running through the material, place the edge of the gage on the joining of the seam and the needle will stitch evenly the exact distance back from the seam that you want the second stitching.

The distance the stitching is placed back from the seam is a matter of choice. In a coat or dress the stitching varies from one-eighth of an inch to one-quarter of an inch from the seam.

Lap Felled Seams.—You will recall that I have already told you how to make a lap felled seam with the special attachment—a narrow hemmer—in place of the regular sewing machine foot.

It is also possible to make a lap felled seam with regular sewing machine foot, although it means turning the edge by hand. For the first stitching, lay the two pieces to be joined with the right sides of the goods together, letting the under piece extend one-quarter of an inch beyond the edge of the upper piece. Stitch the length of the seam, running the stitching one-quarter of an inch from the edge of the upper piece. See Fig. 50. Open
Fig. (50) The first stitching in making a lap felled seam.
out the garment and press the seam. Turn both raw edges of the seam in one direction and press the seam. Turn under the raw edge and stitch a second time as shown in Fig. 51.

This gives you a flat seam finished on both sides. Perhaps you are wondering why it is called a lap felled seam when it is stitched by machine. The seam was named at the time when all sewing was done by hand. Then, the first joining was done with running
Fig. (51) A Lap felled seam completed.
stitch and the raw edge caught down on the wrong side of the garment by hand felling and so we have the name lap felled seam. Even today, where it is best not to have the second stitching show, the raw edge is caught by hand felling.

A lap felled seam always gives a tailored look to the garment. It is used in making men’s shirts, underwear and pajamas, also for boys shirts, wash trousers, underwear and pajamas. It gives a plain blouse style to tailor it with a lap felled seam. It is a good finish, too, at the shoulder of little girls’ wash dresses.

A lap felled seam never looks nice in transparent material such as chiffon or very thin muslins.

A Slot Seam.—Where the edges of two pieces are turned under and they are joined to an inset section, tuck fashion, the joining is called a slot seam. It really adds a trimming. See Fig. 52.

The center front of a skirt is often finished with a slot seam. It’s a pretty way, too, of trimming children’s clothes, especially if the under section is of contrasting material. A navy blue serge with the undersections of the slot seams bright red or green is effective. A little girl’s dress may have slot seams at the center-front, the center-back and the sides of the skirt; also at the center-front of the waist.

To make a slot seam, bind either edge of the under facing. See binding, Lesson II. Turn under the edges of the two pieces to be joined and lap them over the under facing, letting the edges of the two pieces just
Fig. (52) A slot seam makes a pretty trimming for children’s dresses.
touch at the center. Stitch any desired distance back from the edges. See Fig. 52.

Sometimes, the two pieces are spread apart a little letting the inset section show more. The amount you spread them is a matter of taste. They are spread all the way from one-quarter of an inch to an inch.