Types of Seams

A Comprehensive Guide on Different Types of Seams in Garment

A seam is known as the stitching line, where two types of fabric are stitched together. From the hems to pockets and darts in the blouses, seams can create a great structure and shape for all your clothes. They are the building blocks of a garment.

Types of seams
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Seams can be sewn in modern apparel, household textiles, footwear, and sporting goods using advanced sewing techniques. You can find a perfect combination of hand and machine sewing hacks in quilting, shoemaking, haute couture, dressmaking, and tailoring.

The stitching line in the seam is known as the seam line, and the seam allowance is the ideal space between the seam line and the sewing fabric. If you’re wondering how to sew a straight line, check out these 35 intermediate sewing projects.

For making high-end garments, high-quality seams and consistent stitching are essential. In sewing clothes, seams are categorized based on their types and position.

There are various types of seams available as per the fabric and function of the garment. Check this comprehensive guide to understand different types of stitching seams and choose the best for your project.

2 Basic Types of Seams for Sewing

Blue denims bottoms
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A seam is just a method of holding together two different pieces of fabric. They are made using the best sewing threads types and tips. Sometimes glue and adhesive forms can also be used. You can stitch it by hand or sew by machine.

There are two basic types of seams used for sewing garments. Here they are:

Open Seam

Open seam
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These are the types of seams in which seam allowance, the fabric placed between the edges, and stitches are visible.

Closed Seam

A closed seam is a type of seam that includes seam allowances within the seam finish, making it invisible.

How to Choose Different Types of Seams in Sewing?

Seams are an essential part of sewing that can give a beautiful finish to your garment. While choosing different types of seams in sewing, you should consider different factors. Here are four essential things you should consider while choosing a seam.

Types of Fabric

Assorted colors striped textile
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The fabric type should be your topmost consideration. Suppose you’re considering the sheer fabric, then the seam finish you want will differ from what is used in heavy-weight brocade cloth. 

A lace material will have different types of seam than a denim material. Before deciding seam type, you should also check the fabric’s woven labels and hang tags to determine which seam will work best.

Sewing Machine

Check your sewing machine’s capabilities and attachments. You will have more possibilities than a simple stitch machine when you have a serger or zigzag machine.

Seam Placement

Dart and seam placement
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Different seams are treated in a different manner. For example, a curved seam can be placed in a unique way than a straight seam. Exposed seams are treated in a different way than enclosed seams.

Garment’s Purpose and Use

Consider your garment’s purpose first. You may need sturdy steam in a child’s dress but not in a camisole top. Sometimes wedding dresses don’t have the same seam finish as a biker’s gear.

21 Different Types of Seams and How to Sew Them

There are different types of seams used for different projects. You can choose the best seam type to suit your unique sewing needs.

Sewing a seam
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Here is a simple guide on the different types of seams one should know for making beautiful garments with an exceptional finish.

Plain Seam

Plain seam
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Plain seams are one of the easiest types of seams that can be used in almost all items. In plain seams, two fabrics are attached with a plain row of straight stitching. 

The wrong side of the fabric doesn’t face outwards when the garment is ready. They are also known as single-needle Butterfly stitches since the seam can be kept closed or pressed open. 

It can depend on you and the design of the garment you want to achieve. Types of stitching seams and stitch length don’t matter as long as one stitch line attaches two fabrics together. 

A plain seam can be completed by hand using some stitching hacks or machines. Learn some of the best sewing tips and tricks to make garments with plain seams.

Double Stitched Seam

The double-stitched seam is quite similar to a plain seam, except there are two rows of stitching attached with the fabric for extra length. The seam will press the sides, and an extra stitching line can prevent frying; however, it can not give proper finishing. 

You will require extra seam finishing that can fray with ease. The double-stitched seam is stitched and pressed open. In this seam type, the seam allowance is stitched on the downside of the fabric.

French Seam

French seams
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A French seam is considered one of the best seam types for delicate sheer fabric such as organza and chiffon. This seam uses a lot of fabric and can get bulky with some heavy-weight fabric. 

Since the seam is hidden in raw edges, the raw edges cannot be seen from the outside unless you make it bulky. One can learn to sew this easy seam type with the wrong side and trimmed the raw edges. 

A French seam is done on straight edges, but it can be done on curved edges as well if you sew it in an excellent way. These types of seams are also great for garments such as an unlined jacket where you have to hide the seams.

Flat-felled Seam

The flat-felled seam is one of the hardest-wearing seams that is used for types of clothes that need tough seams, such as winter shirts and jeans. This robust and closed seam can provide sufficient strength to the seam line and give coverage to the fabric’s raw edges and keep the seam flat. 

You can stitch it inside as well as outside of the garment. Most men’s shirts, sportswear, pajamas, and kid’s clothes are made from the flat-felled seam.

Decorative Seam

Thick thread decorative topstitching
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This topstitching with contrasting colors can add great attraction to seams. Any types of seams that have outside stitching are categorized as decorative seams.

Graded Seam

Graded seams are used to reduce bulkiness from the garment. The seam allowance (SA) is cut in about 1/8 inches smaller than the previous layer. 

This means you need to widen SA so that you can have four or more layers. These types of seams are ideal for winter garments where the seam has to be pressed to either one side. You can use graded seam when you have to sew some intersecting seams, such as those found in shirts.

Hand-stitched Seam

Hand stitched seam
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Hand-stitched seams are convenient when you don’t have access to the sewing machine. You’ll just require a needle and thread to learn this seam type. 

Running stitch and backstitch are some of the common hand-stitched seams. The running stitch is just an up and down motion. Remember, the smaller the stitches, the stronger the seam.

Princess Seam

These are some of the challenging seams as they are sewn with bust curves on the bodice. Princess seam can be pressed open or French seam can also be used.

Corded or Piped Seam

Align and pin cording to fabric edge
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Corded or piped seams are decorative types of seams that can be used in cuffs, collars, pockets, and home décor items. Bias strip-covered cards can be used in this seam. 

Buy pre-covered cording or just cording and cover it by yourself. These types of seams are sewn with zipper foot attachment, and the cord is kept open under a bias strip. The stitching line is kept as close as possible so that the needle does not touch the cord.

Welt Seam

The welt seam is another version of the flat-fell seam and is known as the mock flat-fell seam. These types of seam finishes are used for jeans since it is strong and less bulky than the flat-felled seam. 

Unlike flat-fell seam, the raw edges are not turned inside, making it visible on the fabric. This closed seam can be neatened or sewn down flat. A welt seam uses one row of stitching to stitch the fabric together and another line of stitching to sew seam allowance down the side. 

This seam should be used on fabric that does not fray. It is excellent for some bulky fabrics, such as synthetic or felt leather.

Puckered Seam

Puckered seam
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Puckered seams are just one of those types of seam finishes you want to avoid. If you find your seam is puckered, then there are several things you need to do to identify the reason behind it. Seams are not made to pucker.

Hairline Seam

Another enclosed type of seam that is used for making collars and other closed areas made from transparent fabric is a hairline seam. This is a fine seam since the seam allowance is cut down to the hair’s breadth.

Hemmed Fell Seam

Hemmed flat felled seam
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Hemmed fell seam is another plain seam in which one side is trimmed to 50% of the other side. The other side is turned inside and hemmed by hand. 

Hemmed fell seam is great for soft, lightweight garments that require a neat finish and a seam that doesn’t fray.

Mock French Seam

Mock French seam can be used in place of the french seam. In a curved seam line such as armholes of sheer dress, a French seam is not possible. You can use a mock French seam to get a neat finish seam line.

Serged Seam

A serged or overlooked seam type is one of the most robust seams. In this seam type, the seam allowance is trimmed together or on an individual basis. Serged seam can be used under the following scenario:

    • If it is not essential to keep the seam flat or opened.
    • For loose clothes
    • On light-weight material
    • When sewing with knits

Serged seam is a professional way to give seam finish. You can find a serged seam on most ready-made clothes.

Butt Seams

Butt seam is used for medium weight and soft fabrics. In this seam type, the edges of the fabric are folded and attached together by a zigzag or chain stitch pattern. Butt seams are used in making beautiful lingerie.

Taped Seam

Taped seams
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Taped seams are any type of seams that are sealed with tape for weather or waterproofing. A strip of fabric or tape is stitched to the seam to prevent any liquid elements from slipping inside the item. Sometimes tape is also added to prevent distortion.

Slot Seams

Slot seams are similar to lapped seams in which colors are peeking out from the seam edges. These types of seams are popular for decorative purposes. They are durable and easy to sew. You can find use of this seam while sewing pants and shirts.

Linen Seam

Linen seams
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Linen seam or sheet seam are those seams that come with embroidery stitching. They look fantastic but are not as strong as other types of seams. The stitches can be placed horizontal or slanting. They are also known as insertion stitches.

Counter Seam

The counter seam is one of the best seam types for heavyweight material. This robust and three-layered seam has raw edges enclosed by both seam line and seam allowance. 

The seam allowances from one side are turned inside on the upper left side. The two-seam allowances with edge-stitched are turned over to form a firm, strong seam.

Strap Seam

The strap seam finish
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The strap seam has an extra layer of fabric which is joined on the top of the seam line. The strip is made by pressing the long edges into 1/4th inches inside and stitched with edges.

7 Different Types of Seams in Garments

There are two things involved in making a garment: stitches and seams. Seam joins two fabrics together to make a garment. A seam is not used just for its functional purposes but is also used as a decorative item.

Grey denim seam
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Choosing different types of seams in garments depends on the buyer and tailor’s choice. Here are a couple of the popular types of seams used in making garments.

Class 01: Superimposed Seam

Superimposed seam
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The class-01 seam is known as superimposed seam. This is one of the most common techniques of making seams on the garment. The seam is made by superimposing the edges of the fabric on one another. 

French seam, plain seam, and double machine seam are known as superimposed seam. They are set on the top of the garment and used to make collars, collar band attached sewing, cuff sewing, top-stitching, etc.

Class-02: Lapped Seam

A lapped seam is made by lapping two fabrics. This seam is not popular among clothing manufacturers since raw edges and one piece of fabric are turned inside to form a finished edge. 

A lapped seam can be used in making denim jackets, side seams of shirts and jeans, attaching patch pockets, binding lace fabric to another fabric, etc.

Class-03: Bound Seam

Bound seams
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Bound seam requires at least two piles of fabric and the edges of one fabric are bounded by the other. 

These different types of seams in garments can be used for making necklines, sleeve hems, the waistband of trousers, night suits, men’s underwear, etc. Read these top 10 reasons to start sewing clothes for yourself.

Class-04: Flat Seam

The class-04 seam type is known as flat seam. The fabric’s edges do not overlap, and thus, this seam is named the flat seam. Zigzag stitches are used with a 2-needle sewing machine, and the two fabrics are set by the side to sew in zigzag stitching. 

The flat seam can be types of clothing aesthetics in some close-fitting garments, shapewear, swimwear, sweatshirts, and high-stretchable apparel, where the seam allowance has to put some pressure on the body.

Class-05: Ornamental Seam

Types of ornamental stitching
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This seam type uses sewing machines with zigzag capabilities. It is made on plain or woven knit fabric

The primary purpose of making an ornamental seam is for decoration where one or two rows of stitches are sewn together on the fabric. Several layers can be folded on the same material.

Class-06: Edge Finishing Seam

The class-06 seam is famous for edge finishing or neatening seam. This seam type holds the fabric’s edges so that yarns of the fabric do not open. 

Lock stitching can be considered as an edge neatening seam. You can start with these easy beginner sewing projects and learn how to make garments.

Class-07: Applied Seam

Applied seam
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Applied seams are considered separate items on the edges of the fabric. For making this seam, you need at least two components in which one component is limited at one end.

4 Types of Sewing Seams – Techniques

Seams are considered an essential element of garment and sewing accessories. They join the fabric together and create the item. They can add shape through elements such as darts, which can be used to shape waists, hips, and bustlines.

Sewing seams techniques
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Seam allowances are exposed in open seam type, and raw edges should be finished to prevent frying. Check out some of the ways to add a finish to open types of sewing seams.

Serger

A serger is a sewing machine that can cut seams’ raw edges and form overlocked stitches around the edges. This is one of the professional ways to add a finish to different types of sewing seams.

Pinking Shears

Types of stitching seams
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These are the types of serrated scissors that can create a zigzag edge. When you trim a seam allowance with pinking shears, it can prevent frying.

Bias Tape

A narrow strip of material is used in bias tape to fold over an exposed seam. This can secure and hide edges and is often used for bags, unlined clothes, and quilts edges.

Zigzag Stitch

Sewing the zigzag stitch
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Zigzag stitching with raw edges of the seam can prevent frying and secure edges.

6 Types of Stitches and Seams Used in Garment Making

In the textile industry, stitch and seams are related to each other. Sometimes people get confused between these two, but stitch and seams are different.

Types of seam finishes
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Stitch is made by sewing a unit or loop in the seam line. At least two threads or thread loops are used to form a stitch.

A seam can join two fabrics together, and it cannot do that without a stitch. The stitch is done in the seam line. Here are some basic types of stitches and seams one should know.

Class-100: Single Thread Chain Stitch

Types of sewing seams
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One needle is needed to form this seam type. The needle thread creates a needle loop after going through the fabric, and the next loop from a similar thread secures it. This stitch can create temporary and false stitching on the fabric.

Class-200: Hand Stitch

Hand stitches are used for decorative purposes. A single thread and stitch are joined by a single line of thread that passes from one side to another side of the material. 

Hand stitch types of stitches and seams can be used for casual fitting and found as topstitch in some high-priced garments. You can also check the care labels of the garment to know more about it.

Automatic sewing machines known as pick stitch sewing machines can also be used, but people don’t use them.

Class-300: Lock Stitch

Lock stitch
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Lock stitches are one of the popular types of stitches found in ready-made garments. You can use one thread from one side of the fabric to interlace with other threads placed on the other side of the fabric. 

The top thread is known as needle thread, and the bottom thread is known as bobbin thread. Lockstitch can provide enough strength for all sewing purposes. You can find lock stitching in buttonholing, pocket topstitching, etc. 

The disadvantage of lockstitch is that this stitch is solid and tight, but it has low productivity. It is not appropriate for knitting fabric due to its lack of elasticity.

Class-400: Multi-thread Chain Stitch

In multi-thread chain stitching, one sewing thread is passed through the material and joined by interlacing and interloping with loops called looper threads. 

This stitch type looks like a lock stitch on the front side but has a double chain effect by looper threads on the backside. Multi-thread chain stitches run faster than the lockstitch machine at 8000 RPM.

Class-500: Overlock or Over Edge Chain Stitch

Overlockers for beginners
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One or more sewing threads are used in these types of stitches, and one thread goes around the raw edges. These stitches have high elasticity and do not unravel or break. 

The width of overlock stitches varies from 3mm to 5mm. They are also classified based on the number of threads used in sewing, such as 1,2,3,4, or 5. The uses of these five threads are as follow:

    • Butt seaming can be done with one thread overlock stitches.
    • 2-thread overlock stitches can do Edge-neatening seam in some knitted or woven garments.
    • 4-thread overlock stitches are popular as mock safety stitches that provide additional strength and flexibility.
    • 5-thread stitches come with two-needle threads and are also called safety switches that can create solid seams.

Class-600: Covering Stitch

Flatlock stitches are another form of covering stitch. These types of stitches are made by three threads such as looper, needle, and spreader. The looper and spreader cover the top and bottom stitches. 

Covering stitches are considered one of the most complicated types of stitches. It has nine threads, including four needles, looper, and rest spreaders.

Stitch class 602 is one of the most used categories of covering stitch. They are used in making a braid, attaching elastic and tape to the knit fabric, etc.

5 Types of Seam Finishes and When to Use Them

There are different types of seam finishes available for making garments and other sewing items. Seam finishes can make the inside of the garment as smooth and clean as possible. 

A guide to seam finishes
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Choosing the right types of seam finishes depends on the sewing fabric. Here are some of the popular seam finishes.

Stitched and Pinked Seam

Pinked seam finish
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This is one of the easiest types of seam finishes. Two lines of stitches attach to the fabric, and raw edges are turned inside pinking shears.

When to use:

Stitched and pinked seam finish is not ideal for a seam that ravel. When you have a stable fabric, you can choose this seam finish.

Herringbone Seam Finish

These types of seam finishes are completed by applying herringbone stitches on the folded, flat raw edges on the garment. Herringbone seam finish is one of the neat and clean seam finishes since the raw edges are invisible.

When to use:

You can use a herringbone seam finish on some heavy material. Men’s coats are made by using a herringbone seam finish.

Overcast Seam Finish

Overcast seam finish
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Overcast seam finish is an authentic and oldest method of seam finishing. They are dated before sewing machines were introduced. 

You will require a single strand matching thread and hand needles to form this stitch. They are suitable for both thin and thick fabric that can fray with ease.

When to use:

You can use an overcast seam finish for making hem and yoke lines.

Net-bound Seam Finish

Net-bound seam finish is formed by placing nylon or netted fabric off-center to the raw edges of the seam. The nylon fabric is folded by covering the seam and stitch.

When to use:

Net-bound seam finish can be used for some delicate fabrics such as chiffon and velvet.

Clean Finish Edge

Clean finish edge
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Clean finish edge is the simplest type of seam finish. You can sew a seam by joining the right sides together—nothing new here. Turn seam allowances under ¼ inches or less and press.

When to use:

Clean finish edges can be used for light to medium weight fabric.

Conclusion

Sewing is one of the things that everyone in their lifetime experiences at least one time. Some experts have turned sewing and stitching skills into a profession. With the advancement of technology, different seam styles have been introduced.

Even though you’re just starting or want to work on some fantastic patterns, there is a seam type to fit your unique needs.

Consider the type of fabric you use for your sewing project before choosing different types of seams. The above-listed information will help you make the right decision.

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