Seams by Diane Kovalcin

Plain seam - Two pieces of fabric are sewn right sides together, leaving a seam allowance usually 5/8 inch with raw edges on the inside. The seam allowance edge may need a seam finish to prevent ravelling.

Plain seams may also be pressed open, and seam allowance edges sewn separately to finish off the edges. Edge treatments include use of pinking shears, oversewing with a zig-zag or casting stitch, or use of fraying preventative. The edges for clothing may also be sewn together using a serger overlock stitch.

Double-stitched seam (stitched plain seam) same as plain seam but sewn a second time closer to the raw edge. Useful for fabrics that do not ravel easily such as net, organza and lace.

Stitched plain seam same as plain seam but stitched again 1/8 inch from seam allowance on one or both sides.

wrong side of fabric sewing lines right side of fabric seam sewing line


Plain seam double-stitched seam stitched plain seam

French seam - the raw edges of the fabric are fully enclosed. The fabric is first sewn wrong sides together about inch or 4 mm from the cut edge. Then any loose threads are snipped off and seam is pressed closed. Right sides are pressed together and sewn about 3/8 inch or 5 mm from the edge, enclosing the cut edge. Useful for light fabrics and semi-sheers.

Wrong side of fabric




Hairline seam similar to French seam but with smaller seam allowances. Good for sheers and silks.

False French seam the fabric is sewn right sides together. The seam edges are turned under inch and sewn together.

Flat or abutted seam - two pieces of fabric are joined edge-to edge with no overlap and sewn with hand or machine stitching that encloses the raw edges. Antique or old German seam (19th century) is a hand-sewn flat seam that joins two pieces at their selvages, typically found in traditional linen garments.


False French seam Flat seam

Lapped seam One piece of fabric is turned under. The folded edge is basted to the right side of the other piece of fabric and edge stitched. Lapped seams are typically used for bulky materials that do not ravel, such as leather and felt.

Flat felled seam (French fell) Right sides are sewn together, 5/8 inch from cut edge and then pressed open. One edge seam allowance is trimmed to 1/3 original width. The larger seam allowance is pressed in half. The smaller seam allowance is enclosed in folded seam allowance, hiding cut edge. Then everything is pressed flat and sewn 1/8 inch from folded edge.

For decorative edges, wrong sides are sewn together and finished with a decorative thread. On very thick fabrics, you may need a wider seam allowance. Fold sewing line seam






Flannel fell seam on heavier fabric. After making a plain seam, one edge is trimmed to inch and folded over other part without turning under. A catch stitch is used.

raw edge catch stitch




Welt seam (similar to flannel fell seam) on heavier fabric. Right sides are sewn together. One edge is trimmed, and the other fabric is folded over it without turning under. Fabric is pressed. From outside, the seam allowance is sewn inch from seam.

Slot seam used for showing another color underneath. Both seam edges are turned under, then the fabric is lapped over a strip of fabric with edges closed or meeting and stitched on the folds.

wrong side right side other fabric right side other fabric






Upholsterer's seam Similar to a French seam but you start with right sides together and the finished seam shows up on the right side. For a cording effect, put cording in the seam.



Tucked seam Similar to lapped seam but sewn at a distance from the fold. Looks like a tuck.

Rolled whipped seam After sewing right sides together, the seam allowance is trimmed to 3/8 inch or so, then edges are rolled tightly and over-stitched.


Bound seam - each of the raw edges of its seam allowances is enclosed in a strip of fabric, lace or net 'binding' (such as double-folded bias tape) that has been folded in half lengthwise. The binding's fold is wrapped around the raw edge of the seam allowance and is stitched, through all thicknesses, catching underside of binding in stitching. Bound seams often used on lightweight fabrics including silk and chiffon and on unlined garments to produce a neat finish.

Wrong side binding sewing line seam right side sewing line seam






Hong Kong seam
- In a Hong Kong finish, a bias strip of fabric is cut to the width of the seam allowance plus 1/4". The bias strip is placed on top of the seam allowance, right sides together, and stitched 1/8" from raw edges. The bias strip is then folded over the raw edge and around to the underside and stitched in place on the seam allowance.