No Thanks
Let

Keep In Touch With MarthaStewart.com

Sign up and we'll send inspiration straight to you.

Martha Stewart takes your privacy seriously. To learn more, please read our Privacy Policy.

Sewing a Seam

Martha Stewart Living, February 1997

Joining two pieces of fabric together in a perfect straight seam is essential for almost every sewing project.

-With the right (front) sides of the fabric together, pin the fabric where the seam will be; pins should be perpendicular to the cut fabric edge.
-The seam allowance is the distance between the edge of the fabric and the seam. Usually a seam allowance of 5/8 inch is called for; position the fabric accordingly (on many machines, a marking on the throat plate helps you guide the fabric and maintain your seam allowance).
-Back-stitch at the start of a seam to keep it from unraveling: With the presser foot raised, position the fabric so the needle is about 1/2 inch from the fabric's top edge. Lower the presser foot, and reverse-stitch to the top edge, then stitch forward to make the seam.
-Machines can stitch over pins (left), but it's a good idea to remove them as you go. Guide the fabric with your hands as you sew. When you reach the end, reverse-stitch again, about 1/2 inch.
-Press the seam open so the seam allowance lies flat against the fabric.
-After sewing a curved seam, such as a neckline [image 2 above], clip small notches in the seam allowance so the fabric lies flat when it's turned right side out.

Seam finishes Keep fabric from unraveling and make a seam more durable. Here are two simple ways to finish a seam [See image 3 above.]
-Zigzag-stitch close to the edges, then trim as close to the stitching as possible (left seam).
-Straight-stitch about 1/4 inch from the edges, then trim with pinking shears (right seam).