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Teach Yourself to Sew

Video: How to Sew a Single-Fold Clean Finish Seam

Jan 02, 2013

Victoria North and Evamarie Gomez

Threads author Sandra Miller shares her simple techniques for sewing common seam finishes in Threads issue 165 (February/March 2013) and in issue 166 (April/May 2013). In this quick video-tutorial, we bring one of her techniques to life and demonstrate just how to sew a single-fold clean finish seam. This method works well with lightweight fabrics that do not fray much. Try this method to achieve great looking and durable seam allowances. Get other helpful techniques like this by ordering a subscription of Threads magazine which comes with FREE access to our tablet editions.

Also, don’t miss Sandra’s techniques for sewing other common seam finishes.

   stitch togetherHow to Stitch Together Seam Allowances stitch and pinkHow to Sew a Stitch and Pink Seam Finish How to Sew a French Seam Finish         
How to Serge Seam Allowances             

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  1. User avater beadrbop March 21st

    Love it! Thank you so much. Yes love these short videos. This one will be useful for garments.

  2. TahsisVoyager February 17th

    I love the finished look, but this requires five passes over the same seam. I would use it only occasionally, in places where nothing else will do and the seam will be visible.

    I agree with others: the videos are marvelous. 35 seconds is just right to show a technique. Then I can get right back to sewing. Thank you, Threads!

  3. User avater HarmonyQ January 23rd

    As a quilter, my advice is to use a 1/4" foot to achieve the most accurate stitch line.

  4. User avater stubblytroll January 16th

    It doesn't show what they look like on the other side.

  5. Ursi January 15th

    Thanks for the videos, sometimes seeing along with reading the directions makes things a lot easier to understand. Keep those videos coming!!!

  6. Tenderfot1055 January 15th

    New to 'Threads' and loving it.
    Recently undertaking a rather large project with a vintage pattern and I have some very expensive Italian wool I am using.
    Can anyone recommend the best way to finish the seam for a professional look without adding bulk. Should I pink them????

  7. missann235 January 11th

    I would LOVE to be able to download ALL Threads instructional videos!!! PLEASE????????????

  8. Ladybugger1065 January 7th

    Beautiful Looking Seam!!!! I will definately use this method!! Thank You!

  9. LuvThreadsMagazine January 4th

    Luv, luv, LUV THIS!!!!!

    Sandra, I for one am looking forward to more of these video tutorials.

    Victoria and Evamarie did an outstanding job producing such a clear and clutter-free video.

    Threads imparts, and we improve.

    Thanks!

  10. kellybird1954 January 4th

    Video is constantly unavailable.

  11. HappyGenny January 4th

    Excellent tip, and an easy vid to boot. It's also nice when readers add useful comments, as it makes you think about the pros and cons of different approaches. My take on the sequence of events is that an initial fold might be faster, but an edge folded over a line of stitching would be more accurate, more stable and generally more polished. So when the choice is to be made, I would consider the type of item, what it was made of an how it will be used.

    As for sergers, I don't own one, so that point is moot. I realize they're popular, but it's a cost priority thing, and call me old school, but I'm really not keen on the look of it, either. If I had the $$ to buy another machine, it would likely be an embroidery one. I dream of adding finishing touches with simple, same colour embroidery. For example one could add a small, tasteful border or a corner motif to the cuff edges (and/or collar) of a simple crisp shirt. Initials or images inside linings would be great, too. Perhaps a small geometric near the beginning of a featured godet?

    Ooops, off topic. (laughs) But you see how it could be a no-brainer choice?

  12. torilynn January 4th

    PS I HATE serging, makes the garment look cheap to me.

  13. torilynn January 4th

    I generally make french seams or flat felled seams, and occassionally pink them. That being said. These look like they would lay really nice. Thanks.

  14. User avater smcfarland January 3rd

    Hi everyone! I'm Sarah, the editor who demonstrated for the videos. I wanted to thank everyone for their feedback. We appreciate that there is more than one way to sew this type of seam finish. We sewed the seam first, but you can use a different sequence to achieve the results. The advice about using a manila strip or other means to buffer the allowance during pressing is excellent, thank you for reminding everyone of this prudent step. There are many types of seam finishes, and in the coming weeks, you'll see more presented here.

  15. User avater Nicksews January 3rd

    Nicely done video, clear and to rhe point!!
    If you are going to stay stitch the edges at a 1/4", I would do it prior to stitching the seam. This makes for less handling of light fray prone edges, and it is also done flat as opposed to after the seam is sewn, which can be fussy.

  16. user-1116680 January 3rd

    Beautiful FINISHED seam...personally I think serging gives a cheap looking finish.

  17. User avater CarrGrand January 2nd


    Thanks for this tutorial!

    I use my serger on almost everything, but I do like the idea of the clean finish on unlined jackets! I think it gives a couture look, which is much better than a serged finish! Someone will see the inside of that unlined jacket!

  18. Bonsul January 2nd

    When the experts write a sequence of steps, I listen. Wow. This is sure wonderful to know. Sometimes, these little lessons are just right to show a child just learning to sew due to the fact that they do not tackle serging till much later on. If I take my machine along on a holiday, I am not going to pack my serger, too. So, to know a set of steps like this is invaluable. I always want my sewing to look neat.

  19. razel718 January 2nd

    I used this method before I bought my serger. I also find it more accurate to sew the seam first. I don't bother with stitching a line at 1/4". I just fold under and edge stitch.

  20. user-360943 January 2nd

    I like it. I would use this when I want a cleaner look than ready to wear.

    I would also sew the seams first, then do the finish. I think the sewn seam allowance will be more accurate that way. Then I don't need to think about being completely accurate when folding the edge under.

    I like the focused video that only shows one technique.

  21. Valerie102 January 2nd

    This video makes a really simple clean finish much more complicated than it really is. DON'T DO IT! THERE'S AN EASIER WAY!

    All you have to for a clean finish is:

    1. Before sewing the seam, press each layer of fabric 1/4" towards the wrong side (by folding over as you sew,finger pressing or iron if you need to)and edgestitch.

    2. Then, sew your seam normally to join the layers (with the 1/4" taken out of the allowance. So, if it's a 5/8" seam allowance, sew 3/8").

    3. Press the seam. You're done!

    You can use clean-finish for any fabric. For heavyweight fabric it will add bulk to the seam, so you probably don't want to use it in that case. It's one of the old methods used before serging was used, so it's naturally bulkier than serging and more time-consuming.

  22. User avater nightmama January 2nd

    I agree with user-248711. This to me is a no-no.

    Why go to all that trouble when you can serge or zig zag. Even serging can cause problems if the fabric is light.

  23. user-248711 January 2nd

    In the video, the narrator presses the seam open and presses the finished seam allowances without placing anything between it and the garment, resulting in an ridge. I was taught never to press over the edge of a seam allowance or the top of a hem without placing a manila strip, envelope or whatever between.

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