What is a Seam? | Types of Seam

A seam is a method of joining two or more pieces of materials together by a row of stitching. The purpose of most of these seams is purely functional and can be called as constructional seams. Seams should be as flat as possible and unseen except those that are used for decorative purposes for garment design and line.

Seams can be classified into flat seams and ridge seams. Plain seam and flat fell seam are examples of flat seams. Ridge seams include the French seam. Seams may also be divided into conspicuous and inconspicuous seams. Inconspicuous seams when finished will not have stitches seen on the right side of the garment, example are plain, corded and French. Conspicuous seams are those that have stitches seen on the right side of the garment like run and fell seam, lapped seam etc .
Types of Seam:
A.Plain Seam
B. Lapped Seam
C. French Swam
D. Flat and fell Seam
E. Bound Seam
F. Slot Seam
G. Counter Seam

A. Plain Seam:
This is the most widely used seam which is pliable and inconspicuous. It is used on all types of fabrics except on very transparent kinds and is suitable for firm fabrics that do not ravel and will not be subjected to hard and frequent laundering. This is used for side seams, under arm seams ad armhole seams. Place the two pieces of fabrics to be joined together right sides facing. Work a line of tacking stitches on the seam line and machine (Fig.A).
B. Lapped Seam:
This seam is commonly used for joining a gathered or unaltered section to a straight edge as in a yoke. Take the part of the which is to be laid on top and turn its seam allowance to the wrong side. Place this piece on the top of the second piece, right sides facing and matching the fold to the seam line. Tack in position and machine close to the folded edge (Fig.B).
C. French Seam:
This is a ridge seam and is used on transparent and light weight fabrics, especially on baby clothes and delicate blouses. It is a neat and durable finish as the raw edges are completely enclosed (Fig.C). It is a neat and durable finish as the raw edges are completely enclosed. The two pieces of materials to be joined are placed together with wrong sides facing. Work a row of stitching 1/8 inch. Press the seam and turn the work so that the right sides are together. Crease the first row of stitching so that it is directly on the edge. Tack and stitch along the seam line about 1/8 inch from the fold.
D. Flat and fell Seam:
This is a flat durable seam used on men’s sports shirts, work clothes and children’s clothes and pyjamas. Places the pieces to be joined wrong sides facing and stitch on the seam line. Press both seam allowances together in the same direction and trim the under seam to 1/8 inch and the upper one to 3/8 inch. Turn under the raw edge of the wide seam allowance so as to make a smooth fold ¼ inch wide. Machine stitch close to the folded edge on the right of the garment. The right side of the seam will show two rows of stitching and wrong side will show only one row of stitching (Fig.D).
E. Bound Seam:
This seam is formed by folding a separate binding strip over one or more plies of material and seaming the strip with one or more rows of stitches. They are frequently used as an edge finish at necklines, hems and sleeve plackets (Fig.E).
F. Slot Seam:
This is a variation of lapped seam and is often used down the center front or center back of skirts, coats and dresses. This gives a decorative effect when a different coloured fabric is used for the backing piece stitched in between the two pieces of fabric, which are lapped on to it (Fig.F). Machine baste on the seamline, leaving long threads at each end. Press open the seam. Cut a 1 ½ inch wide underlay of same or contrasting fabric. Center it under seam and baste.
G. Counter Seam:
This is also a durable flat seam used for very thick materials, men’s wear and reversible garments. This can be made by one of the two methods.

Method I
Turn down a little on wrong side (WS) of one piece of fabric and on right side (RS) of the other piece and iron them firmly. Keep wrong side of the first piece of fabric on the right side of the second piece along the edges, maintaining the seam allowances, and tack it in position. Machine stitch along the folded edges (Fig.G). This is called three-layered counter seam
Method II
Turn down 0.5 cm on the wrong side of one piece of fabric and on right side of the other and iron them firmly. Keep wrong side of the first piece on the right side of the second piece and slip the turned down edges under each other. Pin it in position, tack it and machine stitch along the folded edges from the right and wrong sides (Fig.H). This is called four-layered counter seam. 
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Mazharul Islam Kiron is a textile consultant and researcher on online business promotion. He is working with one European textile machinery company as a country agent. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.

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