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Pro Seam Finishes: Looking Good from the Inside Out

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"Give us the tools and we will finish the job." Winston Churchill. One of the signs of a truly well-made project is that it looks nearly as good on the inside as it does on the outside. Finishing a project's inside raw edges will not only elevate the final appearance, it will also elevate your sewing skills to a new level. In general, the purpose of any seam finish is to prevent fray-prone fabrics from raveling beyond the seam, which would then leave a hole in your sewn project. It also helps to reduce bulk on certain fabrics, like fleece. And, finishing stitches always provide added strength to a seam and the fabric edge. However, it's often just about the look, and most professionals recommend you even finish fabrics that don’t appear to require it.

If you're a power sewer, you may turn to a serger to handle a lot of your seam finishing, but there are many available solutions using just your trusty sewing machine. That's what we have collected for you today.

Since we started with a quote about finishing, we'll end that way as well. With words of wisdom from Dave Barry:

"My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished two bags of M&Ms and a chocolate cake. I feel better already!"

We have four tutorials covering a wide range of finishing options. You can use the handy links below to click through to each and every one. 

Part 1 of 4: Most Popular

Covers straight stitch options, zig zag and overcasting, plus reviews some of the specialty presser feet that can be used.

Part 2 of 4: French Seams

A pretty option and ideal for sheer and/or delicate fabrics.

Part 3 of 4: Mock French & French Wrapped

These come to us by way of fine couture and heirloom sewing, but have a variety of flexible uses.

Part 4 of 4: Hong Kong & Bound Seams

Learn two advanced techniques for wrapping a seam allowance's raw edges with a bias cut strip of lightweight fabric.


If you'd like to continue to build your knowledge about other seam and hem finishes check out the following Sew4Home tutorials:

Flat Felled Seams

Understanding Understitching

Introduction to Sergers

Sewing with Sheers

Simple Hem

Narrow Hem with Clean Corners

Blind Hem

Rolled Hem

Corner or Mitered Hem


Comments (13)

Patty Virginia said:
Patty Virginia's picture

When I was learning how to sew back in the 60's it was a given that the inside of your garment or whatever you were making should look as good as the outside.  Always sticks in my mind.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Patty Virginia - a good rule to live by - you'll always be happier when it's polished through and through 

Dorothy said:
Dorothy 's picture

Any tips on how to get the fabric through those dang bias tape makers? I was very unsuccessful and gave up after about 10 minutes of trying to push the fabric through with a pin as suggested by the box. 

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Dorothy - we do have a short tutorial on those bias tape makers, which I linked below, but it sounds like you are trying what needs to be done. Slicing the end at a sharp angle is a good way to start. You could even try adding a bit of interfacing to the leading end prior to cutting it to give the fabric a bit more rigidity so it slides through more easily.

Carol Greene said:
Carol Greene's picture

Thank you for a very informative post.  I learned quite a few useful tips, along with refreshing my memory of many things which were tucked away in one of my brain's filing cabinets..  Good read!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Carol - So glad we could be a refreshing refresher 

Jane Coombs said:
Jane Coombs's picture

My daughter bought fabric for me to make her curtains. One was a loose weave; the other, firm. They are two toned with 10 inch horizontal blocks. I opted for the French seams as I was concerned about what they would look like from outside the window. Pain in the behind...lessons learned. Number one the sewists should shop for the fabric. Number two combining a loose weave with a firm one is a bad idea. My suggestion was Kona cottons. Now I think I should have serged the seams. They look ok but it was hard juggling the weaves.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Jane - Yep - balancing different fabric weaves and textures can be challenging.

DebS said:
DebS's picture

Thank you for such a detailed tutorial. I have mastered french seams, they seem to be the easiest for me, but as you stated cannot be used in every situation. Now I have detailed instructions for the other methods. Tutorials - always useful, always appreciated. Thanks again!

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ DebS -- You're welcome! There's always something new to learn, right?!

Betty J. Stone said:
Betty J. Stone's picture

Thank you very much for your help.  I will put it to good use.  I'm making doll clothing for my granddaughter.

Betty J. Stone said:
Betty J. Stone's picture

I would also like to see ways of finishing seams on light and filmy fabric.  Would it be possible to also see ways of using different stabilizers?  I've been sewing for over 50 years and that was something we never learned in "Home Ec."

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@ Betty - the link above to "Sewing with Sheers" gives you some good tips on finishing lightweight fabrics. We did our first tutorial on interfacing just last year, focusing on bags and totes. The link is shown below. It is a HUGE category and more options are being added all the time, so more topics are planned as time allows.

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