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Hairline Seam – Possible error in issue June/July 2005

ladyhawke112 | Posted in Feedback on Threads on

Hi! I have been trying to wrap my brain around the directions for curved seams on page 63.

The left side summary says, “When sewn, the hairline seam has a tendency to roll in the direction of the fabric layer that was on the bottom during sewing.”

Then in the directions to get the seam allowances to roll toward the sleeve it says, “With the sleeve side UP and garment side DOWN, etc.”

These statements seem contradictory to me. After several tests, I came to the conclusion that the instructions might be wrong. I searched for a possible Threads Magazine correction, to know avail.

Help! Someone please tell me I am not crazy!


Debi, who hopefully posted this under the correct topic!


  1. Pattiann42 | | #1

    Hairline Seam Issue 119 pages 61 - 63

    When you look at the pictures, the sleeve is on the bottom with the right side (lighter in color) up.  You can also see the seam.

    The brighter side of the garment is also up which looks like the two are right sides together.

    There are demos on the Internet.  I watched the one by Gretchen Hirsch and she puts right sides together of each of the three steps used to construct the hairline seam.  I have never done this seam, but would do as Gertie demos.

  2. User avater
    smcfarland | | #2

    Curved Hairline Seam in issue no. 119 (June/July 2005)

    Hi Debi,

     I just read your message and then went back and reviewed the story in issue no. 119: "Hairline Seams Give a Delicate Couture Finish" by Anna Mazur.

    I do see what you mean - the information in the panel introduction - "When sewn, the hairline seam has a tendency to rull in the direction of the fabric layer that was on the bottom during sewing. Be sure to take this into account when it will influence the finished garment (as it will in a sleeve seam)," appears to be contradicted by the instructions to create hairline seams that roll toward the body of the garment or toward the sleeve. You are not crazy! 

    I checked our corrections copies, and did not find a correction for this story. What I can do is email author Anna Mazur, who works with us on every issue's Pattern Review department, and get her assessment. I can post a reply to you as soon as we get to the bottom of this.

    Thank you for reading!


    Sarah McFarland

    Threads Editor    

    1. ladyhawke112 | | #3


      I am impressed - but not surprised - that you are on top of this!

      As I have every issue of Threads and the archives, I know it has thrived with you in charge. I will be very interested in Anna Mazur's response. I think the instructions just got reversed.

      I searched the archives in order to make the attached shrug in one layer for a neighbor. I do love that seam!



  3. User avater
    smcfarland | | #4

    Hairline seam answer (issue no. 119 June/July 2005)

    Dear Debi,

    I apologize for taking this long to write back to you. There is a lot going on here!

    I talked over your question with Anna Mazur, the story's author, as well as Judy Neukam, our executive editor (and also our staff technical editor). Judy reviewed the story again, and after some more deliberation, we came to the conclusion that we think the introduction is not erroneous, but it is not clear.

    The text currently says: "When sewn, the hairline seam has a tendency to roll in the direction of the fabric layer that was on the bottom during sewing." That sentence seems to be directly contradicted by the instructions and photos for the two techniques that follow.

    Anna stressed to me that the finished sleeve seam is pressed in the OPPOSITE direction from the natural roll. She says it is explained by the sentence "Although this method is trickier, the finished seam allowances can be pressed toward the sleeve cap, providing an attractive lift in lightweight fabrics."

    Anna goes on to explain: "What needs to be kept in mind is that this is not a flat cap as on a camp shirt, but rather a tailored, set-in sleeve with ease along the cap. The cap ease needs a buffer, otherwise ripples form along the cap. Using the latter method of rolling the seam allowances toward the sleeve and pressing the finished seam away from the garment and towards the sleeve (going against the natural roll) gives the cap just the right amount of lift to buffer the ease and give it a tailored result. If this sleeve had been a flat cap, then rolling the seam allowances in either direction woudl not have made a difference in the finished cap. Ultimately, the method to use depends on how the finished sleeve cap needs to look."

    So, in finishing either one of the techniques, Anna is suggesting you might deliberately work against the fabric's natural roll as described in the piece's introduction. The information is not contradictory, as we thought, just not as clear as it could be.

    Judy suggested a solution: to change the problem sentence in the introduction to: "When sewn, the hairline seem has a tendency to roll in the direction the seam allowance is folded during stitching."

    In the examples shown, the seam allowance is turned up, and the seam allowances go toward the garment pieces. I think that the original introduction perhaps oversimplified what is going on by relating it only to the position of the layers during sewing, and did not fully take into account the importance of the seam allowance roll direction.

    I sincerely hope that answers your question and helps you in your sewing. We have the ability to edit that sentence in our electronic archives, so it will be clear for future readers.

    Thanks for reading Threads, Debi!


    Sarah McFarland, Editor


    1. ladyhawke112 | | #5


      Also to add: The seam allowance tends to roll in the OPPOSITE direction of the fold during sewing. The reason for this is that the last pass of stitching (on the seam line) leaves an ever so tiny bit of fabric to the left of the needle.

      As Anna suggests, it is possible to press against the roll. This gives you two options. (1) you can press this tiny bit into a fold at the curve of your armseye or (2) You could attempt to press this tiny bit towards the sleeve. I just tested both on silk organza. The second choice did not give any more lift to the slleve cap than using the natural roll and both did not look very attractive. Also, pressing against the roll in a sheer fabric leaves more stitching lines visible, whereas using the natural roll only leaves one.

      Also (again referring to the sleeve blurbs) as both of the methods described require pressing against the roll, it seems you would have to put the trickiness warning on both.


      Debi View Image

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