How to Sew a Seam

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Introduction: How to Sew a Seam

About: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @jessyratfink to see what i'm working on! ^_^

Sewing a seam is the most basic of sewing skills to learn! It's super easy to do, but there are a few things that will make your sewing go nice and smooth. :)

To prep yourself for sewing a seam, check out my "how to sew" instructable.

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Step 1: What You'll Need:

For this project, you'll need fabric (I'm using 3x5 pieces of muslin for this - the perfect size for practicing), pins, thread and scissors.

If sewing by hand, you'll need:
If sewing by machine you'll need:
  • a sewing machine (this is mine - it's the best sewing machine I've ever had)
  • a bobbin loaded with the same thread you're using in the needle on the machine (mixing threads can cause problems with tension sometimes)
  • an appropriate machine needle for the weight of fabric you're using. Because I'm using muslin, I've got a quilting needle installed.


For both handsewing and machine sewing, I like to use a cotton/poly thread. It's a bit stronger than plain cotton. :)

Step 2: About Pinning

Everyone has their own preference - but I prefer to pin vertically instead of horizontally, especially for machine sewing! (And that's only when I pin - I mostly pin during my instructables to make things look organized, otherwise I run wild with no pinning. It's faster!)

Sewing over pins is dangerous to boot and can break your needle, so you have to pull them out as you go. I like to zip along so pinning vertically is the way to go for me.

Also, when sewing on a machine, always points the tips of the pins toward you - this will save you stabbing yourself in the hands.

Step 3: Sewing a Seam on a Machine

The key to a strong seam is backstitching! It's always important to backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam. Backstitching on a machine is the equivalent of tying a knot while hand sewing - it locks the stitches in place. Without it, the seam can open up. This happens especially fast if the seam will be under any stress - for example, turning a project right side out after sewing.



Here are my steps to sewing on a machine:
  • pin your fabric right sides together
  • insert the fabric under the needle so your seam allowance is correct and the edge of the fabric is 1/4 inch past the needle and pull the threads to the back of the machine
  • use the hand wheel to move the needle down into the fabric
  • backstitch to the edge
  • sew down the seam to the opposite edge
  • backstitch for about 1/4 inch at the end
I've embedded a quick video of me sewing a seam, too.


Step 4: Sewing a Seam by Hand



Sewing a seam by hand is fun, but I tend to avoid it because it can be very slow going and the results (for me, at least!) are rarely as sturdy as a machine sewn seam. There are certain applications where it works great through, including small dolls and toys, delicate hems, and finishing items professionally.

Here's a list of things to remember when hand sewing:
  • a backstitch is more durable than a running stitch (click through to find explanations)
  • tie strong knots!
  • pin and mark the sewing line if necessary to keep your stitches straight - this is great for beginners!
  • the smaller and closer together your stitches are, the stronger the seam will be
  • beeswax is great for keeping your thread from tangling
  • I like to hold the fabric taut between two fingers while sewing - it takes a little practice, but allows you to move a little more quickly!




(This is definitely not the fanciest hand sewing I've ever done. It was ridiculously hard for me to film myself and do this! :P I typically hold the fabric up at chest level - that's a much more comfortable position.)

Step 5: Using Beeswax

Here's a quick gif of how to use the beeswax! All you need to do is drag the thread along the top of the chunk of beeswax.


I like to do this a couple times just to make sure it's coated well, and sometimes I'll also rub the thread between my fingers to help warm up the wax.

Step 6: Comparing the Seams + Extras

As you can see, the hand sewn seam is looser by far. You can tighten it up considerably by using tinier stitches and more of them!

I like to press my seams with a steam iron after sewing because it makes them look a little neater. :) You can also clip the edges with pinking shears to stop them from fraying - I almost always do that.

Have you mastered the basic seam and want to level up in sewing? Have a look at my French seam tutorial! It's much easier than it looks, and it's a fantastic way to make clothing and accessories look and feel more finished. :D

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    8 Discussions

    0
    Juveria0786
    Juveria0786

    Question 10 months ago on Step 3

    Why are you holding the extra thread in the beginning. Is the backstitching needle (for sewing) already there in the sewing machine? How do we know which one is the backstitching needle and how to insert it in the machine?

    0
    jooly4
    jooly4

    Question 12 months ago on Step 6

    Have you made an Instructable on how to make a dress sewing completely by hand? I would like to try that after some instruction with pics.

    0
    thoyaja
    thoyaja

    4 years ago

    it's really very well explained, I learnt two thing which I didn't know. thank you

    0
    JacobB1
    JacobB1

    5 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice tutorial, thanks a lot.

    I needed this tutorial so I can sew a velcro pad to the roof in my car and mount a dash cam on the ceiling. It seemed more clean than drilling holes, haha.

    Thanks a lot for this instructable!

    0
    hunter999
    hunter999

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Well documented and an easy turtorial. Thanks for sharing! :-)

    0
    foobear
    foobear

    6 years ago on Introduction

    You make these tasks look so easy and beautiful! What is the advantage of the beeswax? Thank you

    0
    jessyratfink
    jessyratfink

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    It stiffens and smooths the thread a bit, so it glides through the fabric easier and won't loop around itself so much. :)

    0
    lindarose92
    lindarose92

    6 years ago on Introduction

    This is very useful, thank you for making this instructable Jessy! I had never heard/seen the beeswax before, at least in sewing, I need to look it up now!