Back to the Basics: Seams

Let’s talk about the most basic things in sewing:  Seams!

Seams are what keeps the whole project together (pun intended).  Today we’re going to investigate what makes a great seam that does its job without drawing attention to itself (unless a conspicuous seam is a design element).

Joining Seamlines:  Place your fabric edges together and pin.  You pins should be at a right angle to the edge of the fabric pointing in towards the body of the piece (heads towards the seam allowance).  This is something I TOTALLY do not follow, but I need to.  I admit it.  I can work on that.

Do NOT sew over your pins.  I have had the needle hit one and break and go flying right towards my eye, impaling my eyebrow.  Learn from me; do not end up with a sewing needle in your face.


Stitching:  When you start your seam, start the needle 1/2″ (1.3cm) from the end of your intended seam line and backstitch.  What’s backstitching?  It’s reversing your machine so it sews backwards for that little bit at the start (and end) of a seam so the stitches sort of “lock” up on themselves and don’t start to come undone as you are handling your project in later steps.  Some machines have a lock stitch option which eliminates the need to backstitch.  And if you forget?  No worries, you can always tie the ends of your thread at the beginning or end of your seam.

Reinforcing Corners:  Ooh, what about getting really nice corners?  You can either add a second layer of short, reinforcing stitches starting about 1″ (2.5cm) from the corner, and ending about 1″ (2.5cm) on the other side of the corner OR you can shorten your stitches as you approach the corner, sew with shorter stitches around the corner, then go back to your regular length for the rest of the seam.


Trimming:  Trimming should ONLY happen when you need to reduce bulk.  Corners will be trimmed across the point of the seam allowance close to the seam.  Then trim diagonally along both sides of the point to ease back into the normal seam allowance.


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