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How to Sew a Basic Seam

Find out how to join fabric edges to hold a garment together


Seams play an important role in giving your garment its shape. They connect corresponding fabric edges that are cut and marked from a pattern and hold the garment together. Before you learn how to sew a basic seam, find out about the three parts that make up a seam: the cut edges of the fabric, the stitched line, and the seam allowances.

Mark and align

Patterns pieces are marked with notches to help you align the fabrics before sewing the seam. Find out one easy way to mark the notches on the fabric. Then see how to prepare to sew a seam aligning the notches and fabric edges and then pinning them together.

Secure the start and finish

You can choose from three methods to secure the beginning and the ending of a seam.

Important steps after stitching

After you’ve sewn the seam, you can pink the seam allowances to prevent the seams from fraying.

Be sure to press seams as you sew, for better-looking results. There are a couple of way to press the seam allowances, depending on the pattern instructions. Garment sewing expert Judith Neukam demonstrates the ways of pressing along will all of the other techniques noted.

This detailed tutorial is one video in the comprehensive Teach Yourself to Sew series.

Teach Yourself to Sew

Judith got her first taste of sewing when she took the free lessons that came with her mother’s sewing machine purchase. Judith was 9 at the time. Soon after, she was sewing her own clothes and feeding her passion for the craft. In her Teach Yourself to Sew series, Judith shares her enduring love of sewing and her invaluable years of sewing experience.

Getting started

She starts with discussing the equipment and the essential sewing notions for anyone who sews. You’ll learn about shopping for fabrics, choosing patterns (including selecting the correct size), and planning the perfect pattern layout. From machine-sewing simple seams to inserting zippers and stitching buttonholes, Judith demonstrates the key steps to making a custom garment.

Discover methods for clean-finishing seam allowances and applying facings so all edges are neat. To add shape to garments, Judith explains how and why to sew darts, and how to gather fabric for volume. Other garment elements, such as sleeves, pockets, and elasticized waistbands, are shown in easy-to-follow video tutorials.

Advancing your skills

When you’re ready to challenge yourself further, tune in to Judith’s overview of couture garments and sewing techniques. Even if you never intend to become the next Coco Chanel, you’ll learn methods that add quality to your everyday wardrobe. Find out how to perfectly match stripes, plaids, and prints; baste seams; and insert underlinings and linings.

Finally, Judith shares the basics of pattern fitting and adjustment. Her method begins at the shoulders, ensuring the garment hangs properly. Follow along as Judith shows how to create a shoulder template that you can use again and again to adjust patterns before cutting the fabric. As a bonus, you’ll even learn how to create a custom dress form so you can fit garments on a body that truly represents your true body shape.

Next: How to Check Thread Tension | Video

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