Ooh, that’s an exciting title. But this is a short n sweet post about seam finishing. No matter what you’re making with sewing, one thing you have to do on every project right from the beginning and that isn’t always entirely clear is finish seam edges. There are tons of ways to do this: with a serger/overlocker is popular, but most beginners won’t own one of these (I don’t). On a normal sewing machine, the finishes I read most about are: pinking, zigzag, zigzag variation, French seam and overlocking stitch.
On top of that though are all sorts of ways to use these finishes. I was reading through the pattern instructions for the latest pattern I bought and was surprised that the instructions told me to finish the edges of the garment before I even sewed the seam. Huh? Why? Wha? %$@&%$&@$&!!! (No. 2 below)
Of course, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I’ve found it quite tricky sometimes to finish seam edges after sewing. My zigzag goes everywhere, my pinking is erratic. So why not do the edges first? I am using a slippery rayon challis for this project (already giving me major headaches, but I’ll save that for another time) and it frays quite a bit, so I decided definitely no pinking, but I also figured the zigzag would be a nightmare. What to do? Well, I did what no self-respecting bohemian creative type would do: I checked the machine manual.
And …….. I found that I had an overlocking foot. I knew I had a few random ones I hadn’t used yet, but didn’t realise this was one of them. Serging without a serger!! Sort of. Well, I had that foot on the machine faster than a ferret up a trouser leg. I then set to with the overlocking stitch. You feed the fabric through the foot using the little pin and wedge as a guide for the edge. Much, much easier than trying to keep it randomly straight on a freehand zigzag. Having said that, the overlock stitch just… didn’t work for me. It kept bunching up the fabric and it looked crappy. I lowered the tension, checked my thread setup, etc. etc. Still pretty rubbish.
THEN! I realized you could also use a zigzag stitch with this foot. “Oh, why not” I thought, “lets give it a shottie”. The heavens opened, the sunbeam shone… LA LAaaaa. A lovely finished edge! It catches and wraps the edge just like you would hope. (Sorry it’s hard to see in the photo). Zigzag with overlocking foot – it’s the way forward! Finishing seams first! Also cool!
PS. Of course, I have found other people online suggesting this very thing since I tried it, so I realise it’s no big revelation. Also that sewing seams first is very common in mainland Europe? Maybe it’ll help someone else though. This post turned out not so short in the end! Next: French seams!