Looking again today at how to get a nice neat finish on the inside of your projects. This isn't one technique that might immediately spring to mind and it's certainly not right for every project, but if you look closely you'll be surprised how often you might find it on your store-bought clothes.
How can we use the Flat Felled Seam?
The places you'll find the seam give clues to its features. Looking down right now, I'm wearing a pair of board shorts and the side seams and the central seam running front to back between the legs are both flat-felled seams. It's generally used on heavyweight fabrics such as jeans and on seams where extra strength is needed.
You can often also find it on children's wear where the seams might undergo a bit more stress as they rough and tumble. However, it does create a double line of stitching on the outside of the garment and is therefore not suitable for every application, but it can give a very professional looking finish if you can sew it accurately. Let's have a go at creating a neat flat felled seam.
How to sew a flat felled seam
The flat felled seam can be sewn from either the inside or outside. There's not much difference in techniques but which way you do it determines where the bulk of the seam will fall. For jeans, tote bags etc, you might have this on the outside, but for another garment sewing it might fall inside.
I'll be creating an ‘inside' flat felled seam in this example. Sew your seam as usual with your regular seam allowance.
Press both seam allowances over to one side.
Then trim down the bottom seam allowance to half its previous width. Trimming accurately is important so if you have one, use a rotary cutter and mat rather than your scissors.
Fold the larger seam allowance up and over the smaller one, all the way nearly to the seam line stitched earlier. Press this in place. Again, accuracy is important, so fold and press carefully and use a seam gauge to get an even fold. Then fold the whole seam over on itself to the other side so that the raw edge is now hidden and press again.
Return to the machine and edge stitch close to the free edge, trying to keep an even distance from the original seam line. If you have an edge stitching foot, or even a blind hem foot, this will help you stitch closely and evenly to that fold.
Here's how it looks from the inside, and the outside.
You may want to finish off from the outside by top stitching a third line of stitching just inside the original seam allowance for extra strength and decorative effect.
Many flat-felled seams are finished with specialty threads for more prominent stitching lines or you can use decorative and metallic threads for a fun look too. Of course, the iconic look of the yellow thread on denim is used in the seams on jeans everywhere.
Flat felled seaming for curves such as armholes is an advanced technique best left to the experts!
Next in the series – the French Seam.
Looking for previous seam finishes? Part 1 – the Zig-Zag Seam Finish