Hello! For this month’s Sewing Lesson we are going to talk about “How to Finish Seams”, and you don’t need a serger! If you’re new here, Sewing Lessons is a year long blog series hosted on the Polka Dot Chair that is sponsored by Bernina! There will be 12 lessons, each one aimed at improving your sewing skills.
Okay now lets talk finishing. You want to finish your seams. I know that sometimes this seems like one extra step, and you’re just tired of the project and want to be done, but it IS important. You don’t want to spend all of that time making something to have it fall apart when it’s washed or worn.
There are many many ways to finish a seam today we are going to talk about 6. Flat Felled Seams, French Seams, Zig Zagged Seams, Pinked Edges and Overlock Seams.
Let’s start with the simplest of all of these, Pinked Edges. For fabrics that do not fray a great deal or that will not get a lot of wear you can simply use your pinking shears or a pinking attachment on your rotary cutter and pink the raw edges of your fabric. You can even do this when you first cut out your project. The pinked edges will help deter the fabric from fraying.
Next the Zig Zagged Edge. Almost all sewing machines have a zig zag feature. To zig zag an edge, sew the seam as you normally would and press the seam open.
Next, set your machine to a zig zag stitch. On the Bernina 710 this is a #2 stitch.
Depending on the weight of your fabric you can adjust the length and width of the zig zag to get the best possible result.
Now just zig zag along the raw edge of the seam, one hit of the needle will be on the fabric and the next hit of the needle will be off of it.
Next is a Flat Felled Seam. Flat Felled Seams are generally used on heavy weight fabric where extra strength is necessary (i.e. jeans). However I really like to use flat felled seams on skirts and other children’s clothing. The finished top stitch gives a professional look to the outside of the garment.
Sew your seam as normal. Press the seam open. Then trim down one side of the seam allowance to ¼” wide.
Next press under the uncut seam allowance ¼”
Fold the seam allowance with the folded edge on top of the seam allowance with the cut edge. Press.
Using foot #5 (edge stitch foot). Top stitch along the folded edge of the seam. You’ll need to adjust your needle position to the left.
To do this, just hit the arrow on the front of the machine until the needle is in the correct position.
Now for French Seams. Don’t be intimated by these, I was for years, then I learned how to do them and they are so simple! French seams work best for lightweight fabrics and are very common in heirloom sewing.
For this type of seam you are going to start by sewing your fabrics with the WRONG sides together. A common misconception about french seams is that you start by sewing a very tiny seam allowance. This is not true. Sew with the same seam allowance you would normally use, otherwise your pattern may not align correctly.
After you have sewn the seam, trim the seam allowance down to a scant ⅛”, basically get as close as you can to the edge without cutting the seam.
Now turn the fabric with right sides together and using your fingers roll the fabric until the seam is worked out all the way to the edge. Now just stitch a seam along the edge. Make sure it’s deep enough to catch all of the raw edges, but try to keep it as small as possible so there is not a lot of bulk.
Next is a Bound Seam. You may want to use a bound seam when finishing the raw edge of something like a skirt or sleeve and you want the contrast of the bias tape to show as a decorative touch.
You will need double fold bias tape, or you can get single fold and fold it in half.
Open up the bias tape and match the raw edge of the bias tape with the raw edge of the fabric. Just a note, use a matching thread, I only used white so you can see the stitching.
Stitch along the first fold in the bias tape.
Refold the bias tape and press. Now just top stitch along the edge of the bias tape to finish.
The last finishing technique I’d like to talk about are Overlock Seams. These seams are made for knit fabrics. They allow you to finish and sew the seam of your fabric in one step. An overlock stitch is also great for a decorative touch on things like the collar of a t-shirt. The great thing about the Bernina 710 is that it has a built in Overlock Stitch. These stitches are usually found in sergers.
Since you are sewing with a knit fabric make sure that you use a stretch needle in your machine.
On the 710 set it to the overlock stitch which is #10
Now hit the “i” on the screen and adjust the presser foot pressure. You want a light presser foot pressure to get a good result. (otherwise your fabric make gather and stretch as you sew)
Now just stitch down the edge of your fabric. The needle will be going off the edge slightly as it stitches.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this months lesson! Any suggestions for next month!?!