Seam Finishing Techniques

Seams give all clothing and other sewn things their structure and shape, from the hem to the pockets to the darts in a shirt. There are many different types of seams, so be sure to take the fabric type and purpose of the garment into account when choosing one. Frayed seams and a diversity of stitches can be employed to create a more casual look, while uniform stitches and high-quality seam finishes are crucial for higher-end clothing.

Types of Seam Finishes Techniques

Following are the major techniques

Conventional Seam Finishes

The most straightforward and typical seam treatments used in dressmaking are conventional ones. These methods either require binding, simply folding and topstitching, completing the edges of the seam allowance together using any of these applications, or finishing the edges individually using overedge stitches (such as serging or zigzagging). When using overedge seam finishes, the seam allowance is serged or zigzagged together close to the seamline, leaving a narrower seam allowance width. The choice of finish should take into account the fabric, the garment, and any unique requirements that may exist.

Self-Enclosed Seam Finishes

Self-enclosed finishes are those that only use the seam allowance to encompass and confine raw edges. French seam, self-bound, and flat fall are a few examples of self-enclosed finishes. These methods are regarded as being of higher quality and costing more because they necessitate more steps throughout the building process. The finished product has entirely sealed raw edges that are not noticeable anywhere along the interior of the seam. These procedures are ideal for fashions that expose the inside of the garment (such as unlined jackets) or for finishing lightweight silk materials that are challenging to work with traditionally. Depending on the design, kind of fabric, and intended use of the garment, you can choose from a variety of seam finishing procedures. The variety of dressmaking finishing techniques may be a bit overwhelming to a newbie sewer.


Due to their versatility and application outside of seam allowances, seam finishes are sometimes referred to as “edge” finishes. The facings and hem edges fall under this category. The goal is to keep a raw edge from ravelling (in woven fabric) or curling (in knit fabric), and the construction technique is usually the same. The following are some significant techniques for seam finishes

Edge Stitched

This method is only used as a seam finish on tightly woven fabrics. The finish is simple to construct, although it does require a sewing machine. For edges and seams that are straight or curved, edge stitching is appropriate. When done in addition to edge stitching, pinking the raw edge is accepted as a seam finish.


Zigzag-patterned pinking shears are scissors. The sawtooth edge design of the fabric limits the amount of fraying. Use this finish exclusively on tightly woven textiles or on pieces that won’t see much use, like the lining of a garment. Pinking is occasionally used as a decorative edge, but it shouldn’t be used by itself to finish seams because it doesn’t stop or delay ravelling. Its application to clothing construction is restricted.


The serger or overlock machine can be used as an edge-finishing technique as well as to finish seam allowances. The serged edge finish is only used on woven fabrics because knits do not ravel. However, if a knit fabric edge has a propensity to curl or roll, the serged edge finish can be required. Lightweight materials are stitched with a 2-thread overedge stitch because it adds the least amount of bulk. (Not all 3- and 4-thread machines can produce a stitch with only two threads.) When a 2-thread overedge is not accessible or when the fabric has a different weight, a 3-thread stitch works well. The fourth thread is bulky and not required.


Lightweight textiles are ideal for this finish. It works well for sheer or see-through garments, especially in areas like sleeve caps and armholes where other finishes don’t make them look appealing. There must be a seam allowance of at least 5/8 inch.

Hong Kong

Although it may not be as bulky as a bound finish made using bias tape, the Hong Kong finish is closely similar to the bound finish. Coats, jackets, and other clothing with exposed seams are appropriate candidates. If the binding material is a contrasting or complementary print fabric, it can offer a decorative element. To use as binding, choose a thin, tightly woven fabric like lining cloth or batiste. Pick a binding material that calls for the same cleaning procedures as the fabric.

Clean Finished

When the fabric is lightweight, this finish, also known as “turned and stitched,” is used all over the garment in addition to at seams. It is frequently used to finish the edges of facings and hems. Because it creates bulk, it is inappropriate for heavyweight or knit textiles. A finished 5/8-inch seam allowance is possible by cutting a broader seam allowance.

Hand Overcast

This is one of the earliest techniques for smoothing seams and edges, dating back to the development of the sewing machine. There are times when using this edge finish is the best course of action.

Machine Over-edge/Overcast

Some sewing machines have an overedge presser foot or machine setting specifically designed to overcast (stitch over) the edges of the cloth without clogging the machine with the material or thread. Use this stitch instead of the machine zigzag technique if your machine is capable of doing so. The overcast technique does not require trimming, nor do you need to cut the garment with bigger seam allowances.

Machine Zigzag

When cutting out the garment, a large seam allowance (up to 1 inch) may be employed because the finished seam allowance will be 1/8 to ¼ inch smaller. This treatment is applied to a woven fabric’s simple seam. It needs a sewing machine that can perform zigzag stitches. The finish is applied to fabrics ranging in weight from medium to heavyweight, including corduroy.

Double Stitched and Trimmed

The plain seam is the first step in the double-stitched finish. It is applied to seam allowances that are pressed on one side and handled as a single unit, as well as knit textiles. Additionally, it is used to stop seam allowances from rolling or curling on thin knit fabrics. The method is simple to use and excellent for beginning sewers. It needs to be sewn using a machine.


To conclude, the application of seam finishes to seam allowance layers keeps the seam neat and polished while also preventing the edges from unraveling. The inside of a garment should be just as well made as the outside. Seam treatments enhance a garment’s strength and longevity in addition to its aesthetic. Seam finishing procedures preserve the seam’s structure and appearance on both the inside and outside of the garment as it undergoes repeated cycles of washing and wearing.

Updated on: 13-Feb-2023


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