How to finish a straight seam

I’ve been working on the Moon Goddess costume as my performance is due next Saturday. I finished a double layered white chiffon circle skirt that is part of the Goddess costume. It is now hanging upstairs, waiting to be danced in. The belt is mostly done and is ready for fringe and more rhinestones. I’ll post a costume project update later this week.

While making the skirt, I took a couple of close-ups to show you how to finish a straight seam with a regular sewing machine.

What does an unfinished seam look like?

Unfinished seams in a finished costume are a sign of poor workmanship. The purpose of finishing a seam is

  1. to reinforce the seam: if the seam rips, at least the finish will help to keep things together;
  2. to prevent the fraying, which will lead to damage to your seam in the future;
  3. to prevent burlign of the seam creating bulges and uneven lines;
  4. to flatten the seam and make the seam as invisible as possible;
  5. to clean up the interior of your project. It just looks better.

Finishing a seam if a proces that is almost identical for most fabrics. I use this techinque for almost all fabric types and it creates supple, neat, flat seams. Keep in mind that it works best for straight seams!

Seam with selfedge
Seam with frayed edge on the top

Let’s get started

Make sure you’ve stitched all the neccesary pattern pieces together and you’re ready for finishing your seams. Most patterns include a seam allowance of 2 cm. 4/5″. This leaves quite a wide seam on the inside of your garment that needs to be taken care of.  The first step is taking a pair of fabric sciccors and trim the seam allowance back to about 0.5 cm – 1 cm/ 1/5″-2/5″.

Trim seam allowance
Trim seam allowance

Get your sewing machine out and choose a wide zig-zag stitch. My machine is automatically set to a seam length of 2 mm and a width of 3 mm. Feel free to experiment a bit with what suits you best: for example, a 5-6 mm wide sig zag also gives a nice finish. Stitch over trimmed edges of the seam, catching both layers with the same stitch.

Seam with zig-zag stitch
Seam with zig-zag stitch

The end result is a narrow seam with a neat finished. Sometimes small threads of the fabric escape from the seam: use scissors to trim it down.

Finished seam
Finished seam

I am  a bellydancer and costume-a-holic living in the Netherlands. I enjoy blogging and I have big plans for the future with regards to writing and publishing books and such. All that, and a full time day job too! If you enjoyed this post and like to kept in the loop, please like Kyria Bellydance on Facebook or follow me on Twitter. Leave your questions or comments in the box below, or let me know through Facebook and I might write a blog post to answer your costuming question.

Thanks for reading and see you soon!


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