June 13, 2011

Seam Finishing Week!

I received numerous emails and comments, during the course of the Ginger Sewalong, on how to best finish seams. You know, like should you zigzag the edges or pink them or serge them, that kind of stuff. To be honest, I didn't give very good answers and I thought it was something that I should dedicate a whole week to instead. So, this week I've deemed Seam Finishing Week! I think you might be surprised at how many ways there are to finish a seam, because there are several. So let's jump right in, shall we?

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Why, when and where should you seam finish? Let's start with Why. If you've probably noticed with fabric, all, well nearly all fabrics fray. In fact, I think the only type I've seen that doesn't fray are knits, and even then it depends on the type. And we're not just talking about fraying in the laundering phase either. Fabric will fray while you're handling and wearing it too. Yeah, even if you plan to dry clean a garment, there will still be fray-age be the mere fact that you will be wearing it. That's why you want to seam finish - to add life to the garment.

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When do you seam finish? When you seam finish depends on where you are in the garment construction phase, what type of seam finishing you'll be using and where you want the seam finished. I used to think that it was a grand idea to just get all the seam finishing out of the way before I even starting constructing a garment. Then I found that certain seams - like enclosed seams - end up producing shine (after pressing) with certain types of seam finishing methods. Not only that, but you can also stretch and distort cut pieces of your pattern by seam finishing before you actually start constructing. So, its my personal feeling that you should seam finish during construction always planning the seam finish just one step ahead of the place you are with your garment.

the center front seam of my seamfoam silk ginger skirt featuring a french seam finish

What about the Where? Seams that are exposed are a great place to start thinking about what types of seam finishes you want to do on a seam. What do I mean by exposed? Well, let's take a skirt for example. Even more to the point, let's have a look inside my Seafoam Silk Ginger skirt. This skirt does not have a lining - though even for skirts with linings, I like to seam finish - so the exposed seams run down the center front, center back and side seams. What I'd do for the center front and side seams? I used a french seam - a favorite for silk type fabrics with me. I'll be showing you how to do these later on this week. Center back seam? Well this seam has a zipper in it and in the interest of time, I used my serger, though there are plenty of other seam finishes I could have used (which might have even been a little better too).  Let's talk about the seams that aren't exposed for a minute. Those are located in the waistband area. What did I do there? I did not seam finish any of those seams, instead I graded them to reduce bulk. The hem? Nope, didn't seam finish that area either. Since edge of the skirt hem is not exposed, I find that seam finishing, especially with hems, can produce shine from pressing on the right side. And the shine you get is the imprint left from the seam finish itself. Make sense?

the center back seam of my seafoam silk ginger skirt featuring a serged seam finish

Tomorrow I'll be back with some basic seam finishes and as the week progresses we'll get more advanced and tricky. What about you? Where and when do you seam finish?


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