An Overview of the Sewing Seam Types

There are many purposes for different types of seams beyond simply holding a garment together. Seams can be used for fashion and decoration, as well as function and finishing. Some fabrics require special types of seams to help with handling, and some patterns require certain sewing seam types for their construction and fit. When you get into it, a seam is not just a simple line of stitching!

A Close Look at a French Seam

French seams

French seams are the seam of choice for sewing shear, lightweight fabrics because they’re strong but inconspicuous. They are narrow and completely encase the raw edges of your fabric, all while adding a very professional looking touch to your garment. French seams can be a bit tricky to learn at first, because of the small seam allowance and pressing involved on delicate fabric, but they’re a worthwhile seam to master.

Photo via Craftsy member WowCarol

Topstitched seams

Topstitched seams are a rather iconic detail when sewing jeans and make a professional impact when done neatly. Topstitching not only adds design lines to a garment, but also keeps seams flat and secure on areas that are prone to added stress. Above is a beautiful example of topstitched seams Craftsy member WowCarol made while enrolled in Kenneth D. King’s Jean-ius! class

A Close Look at Flat-Felled Seams

Flat-felled seams

Flat-felled seams are common in menswear and add a clean, professional looking finish when sewing dress shirts and sportswear. It’s a durable seam that adds structure to a garment without adding bulk because one raw edge is folded over the edge of the other and is topstitched down flat. Flat-felled seams are a great option for reversible garments because they look virtually the same on both sides, but they aren’t the best option for seams with tight curves.

A Look Inside a Vintage Skirt

Photo via Lucky Lucille

Bias bound seams

Bias bound seams (also known as the Hong Kong seam finish) are an easy way to add a level of expertise to your garment sewing. The raw edge of the fabric is completely encased within a strip of bias tape, leaving a very clean look on the inside of your garment. This method can be time consuming but is an ideal choice for heavier fabrics, or garments without a lining. They’re also a great way to add a surprise pop of color to the insides of your sewing projects.

Princess Seams on a Couture DressCouture Dress via Craftsy member EmilytheCrafty

Princess seams

Princess seams are a variation of darts that create rounded curves to shape women’s clothing. Princess seams create an elongated, slimming appearance and look very tailored. They are designed to snugly contour the bust and waist in fitted dresses and jackets. Princess seams are commonly seen in bridal gowns and couture dresses.

Dress Pattern by Craftsy Member
Photo via HouseofPinheiro

Basic seams can also be used as a design element to accentuate shape and add visual interest. The Brasilia Dress pattern (seen above) by Craftsy designer House of Pinheiro shows a great example of how simple seams can create design lines and points of interest in a garment.

There are also endless options when it comes to decorative seams!

Most modern sewing machines will have decorative seam functions built in to give you a wide range of stylish stitches to add to quilting and garment sewing projects alike. Vintage seaming techniques with lace, ribbon, piping and other trims are also fashionable seam finishing options that can transform a simple garment.

Learn a variety of couture seam treatments, including topstitching, padded and welt seams, piping and double piping, strap seams, faux tucks, prairie points, Seminole piecework, lace insertions and more with Katrina Walker in her Decorative Seams class. And perfect techniques for using darts and seam lines as design elements in your garments in the Suzy Furrer’s brand new Craftsy class Patternmaking + Design: Creative Darts & Seam Lines.

What’s your favorite type of seam finish?


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