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How do you like to finish seams?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hi, I'm new to sewing, and I'm realizing that my seams are a mess.
I do not have a serger.
Do you always finish your seams, or does it depend on the fabric?
How do you like to finish them?
post #2 of 15
For most things, I just zig-zag over the raw edges. If it's something that's going to get a lot of abuse, I flat-fell the seams.
post #3 of 15
I would serge them if I had a serger. Right now, I just leave them raw because I make play clothes with cheap cotton fabric. Nothing fancy.
post #4 of 15
I trim them with pinking shears.
post #5 of 15
Before I got my serger I did french seams when I could, also have a pair of pinking shears I used. My machine does have a mock overlock stitch I have used when my serger was in teh shop.

I love to use the serger though. Really easy to sew up knits.
post #6 of 15
It depends on the fabric and the cut of the pattern, how the finished seam would lay.

I really like french seams and do those when I can - I like that absolutely clean finish. I also like jean seams (I think these are also called flat-fell).

Sometimes I zig-zag the edges with no other finishing; other times, I press the edges before zig-zagging so the raw edge is more hidden (this depends on how much the fabric will fray, for me). Sometimes, I will do a modified french seam and tuck the raw edges in and zig-zag them shut; sometimes I will just zig-zag the two edges together and trim close to that.

I really can't say (other than how much fraying the fabric will do or how it will lie), what makes my decision (other than convenience too!) .... I'm an old 4-H sewer, so I do try to be consistent (i.e., no french seams when there will be a zipper set into one of the seams, since those won't "match" and it may not lay identically as a result of using a different finish on it than the other seams, etc.).

I very rarely pink - usually with polyester silkies and only with them.

But I also don't think I've ever *not* finished a seam in some way. I know lots of people just skip it, pattern instructions rarely talk about it - but I just can't skip it. I probably am not always doing purple or blue-ribbon sewing by 4-H standards, but I have to finish the seams anyway. It's a compulsion I think.

I sew a lot, and I think that knowing "how" you want to finish seams on a particular garment is a learned thing - you're assessing
The weight of the fabric,

The way the pieces fit together (i.e., a french seam on a peasant blouse IME causes a "bunching" under the arm seam, so I use turned-over zig-zag finish on those when I make them for myself or Ina),

The amount of fraying you'd anticipate the fabric to do when washed,

How loosely woven the fabric is (may need reinforcing stitching)

The "drape" of the fabric (bulky finishing like a french seam may really impact the way a rayon fabric hangs in the end, for instance)

How much "wear" the garment will get (I try to finish well on kids' clothes because I expect them to be handed down and get rough use),

post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thank you all!
I realize that is why the last shirt I made looked horrible. The seams were all frayed after one washing.
I did the zigzag this afternoon, that seems to work. I need to finish this by Friday, it's a gift, and that seemed the quickest way to do it.
post #8 of 15
Another vote for French seams. They really help when you're doing anything with ruffles (like tiered skirts).
post #9 of 15
I dont' have a serger either, I usually don't do any extra finishing on knit fabrics...since they don't fray anyway.

On woven fabrics sometimes I like to sew the seams first with a zig zag right on the edge of the fabric, then resew, *on* the seamline this time, with a straight stitch. It turns out really nicely, depending on what I'm trying to achieve. The thing about it is, no matter what, I have to finish woven seams, because unraveling can cause the garment to fall apart....and that *always* involves going over my work at least 1 extra time. That's why I would like a serger
post #10 of 15
I looooove the french seams!!

I also really like doing the flat fell seam for a lot of things.

I have a serger, but *ahem* well it needs to be serviced.
post #11 of 15
until DH got me a serger a few months ago, I did french seams for everything, including little sachets. Yeah I'm a nut, but I can't stand unclean edges.
post #12 of 15
What are french seams?
post #13 of 15
For a French seam, your steps to sew a seamline (this is really only for straight seams) are:

1. Place fabric WRONG sides together and sew a 1/4 inch seam along the edge of the fabric. (You will be sewing on the RIGHT side of the the fabric).

2. Turn and press the seam so that now the seam is enclosed INSIDE the fabric (you'll be pressing it into half with the seam as your dividing line) - the fabric now is WRONG sides out, like fabrics typically are when sewing on them. You now sew a 3/8 inch seam along the edge of the fabric line.

...What you've done is sewn a seam, and then encased it inside another seam. This is a very nice finish, sturdy and it is great with sheer/near-sheer fabrics (drape issues are all to watch for with it as it may become too stiff/stable with a really drapey fabric). There are NO raw edges with a french seam. Some people like to trim the 1/4 inch seam's edges a little to make it less likely that you'll have little bits of threads sticking out of your nice clean seamline (verrrry important to do if the fabric ravels easily).

About.com has information and pictures:

They also have a section which has other seam finishes in it, for those who are curious (finishes discussed by others above, and then we've also described finishes which they don't show, too -- but looking at these finishes should give a better idea of what we're talking about ):
post #14 of 15
Thanks a buch! that looks pretty easy.
post #15 of 15
I usually do French seams. My mom gave me some pinking shears recently, so I may start pinking and a zigzag stitch on some things, but probably not on anything expensive or that I want to last a long time.
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