A Guide to Seam Finishes

How to finish seams - Melly Sews
When I was younger, I was all about sewing as quickly as I could. A seam finish, if I did one at all, was a quick clip with the pinking shears.
But now I really enjoy nicely finished seams. They help garments last longer, and I actually enjoy the process of being thorough.
Or rushing through with the serger. Whatever works. So let’s take a look at these different finishes.

Overlock or serger stitch -  How to finish seams - Melly Sews

This stitch is done with 3, 4 or 5 threads on a serger. It can also be referred to as serging a seam. Two of the threads wrap around the edge of the fabric, and a knife trims the fabric edge straight so that the threads can wrap around it.
Pros: quick and easy to do
Cons: you need a special machine to do this stitch

How to overlock without a serger - How to finish seams - Melly Sews

This type of stitch is essentially a zig-zag stitch done with the needle hitting just over the edge of the fabric on one side.
Pros: Can be done with any machine that can do a zig-zag
Cons: Does not wrap around the fabric edge as securely as an overlock stitch

How to sew French seams - How to finish seams - Melly Sews

A French Seam is made like this:

  1. Pin pieces together with wrong sides together, using a 1/4″ seam
  2.  Sew
  3. Flip the pieces to right sides together, and stitch the seam again
  4. The raw edges should be encased inside the seam
  5. If you look at it from the side, you can see the raw edges inside the seam
How to sew flat felled seams - How to finish seams - Melly Sews

To do a Flat Felled seam follow these steps:

  1. Stitch your pieces together with at least a 1/2″ seam.
  2. Press the seam flat and trim one seam allowance down to 1/4″
  3. Wrap the other seam allowance around the trimmed raw edge
  4. Stitch down close to the folded edge
  5. Your seam will look like this on the outside. You can add topstitching next to the seam or stitch with a double needle in step 5 to make this seam more decorative.

A flat felled seam can also be done starting with wrong sides together; this will give you a ridge on the outside like you normally see on jeans.

So see, these fancy, scary sounding names for finishes are actually nothing to be scared of.

How to finish seams - Melly Sews

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  1. R.M.Sharma says

    Thank you so much for providing such valuable tips on tailoring. It is relay appreciating and easy to understand your explanations. On pattern designing there no full videos available. It will be kind of you if you could upload the complete series at one location. I am a poor person so this has helped me to develop my skill partially due to partial portion of videos available on topics. Still thank you so much.
    With Due Regards

  2. Dora Stevenson says

    Melissa~ You are such a talented and giving individual…Thank you so much for this tutorial. May God Bless your efforts and bring you much success in your endeavors.

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