The Seams Every Beginning Seamster Needs To Know

I love teaching beginning seamsters. I really really do, I could teach Beginner's Sewing all day long and not get worn out. Because sewing is such a useful skill and when you learn just a few things, you can do so much. Once you know a few basic seams, you can really start changing your environment, your wardrobe, and make things you want and need. Read on to see some of the basics that I teach you in our Beginning Sewing class and Basic Knit Wear class.


The 5/8 Seam is the first seam I teach you- that's the straight stitch shown above. This seam joins fabric together. If you are making clothing, you use the 5/8 Seam. If you are quilting, you can use the 5/8 seam. This seam, once you learn how to sew it accurately in Beginning Sewing, is the basic way to start putting a project together. And don't worry. I have an arsenal of tricks to teach you how to sew a straight line. I've never had a Beginning Sewing student leave the first night without locking this down.

The navy and magenta sample above is a basic seam sewn on a serger sewing machine. I teach you how to use this awesome machine in our Basic Knit Wear class. The serger doesn't just have to be used for knit wear. It is an indispensable tool for sewing sturdy, finished seams. I use this seam for curtain details, sewing tee shirt quilts, and making my garments polished and professional. As you read on, you will see more of what this machine does.


This seam is called the rolled hem. There's lots of different ways to make this, but for beginning sewing, this seam give you a clean, finished edge. You can use this seam to sew curtains, make hems on shirts and pants, blanket hems, cuffs, and more. For those of you who have blue jeans that you buy way too long- this is the seam that you use to take up your pants.


Now let's look at some machine comparisons. So you have a raw edge. Most of your time sewing is spent resolving that raw edge, either rolling it like we did with the rolled hem, or merging it to join another piece of fabric to it the way I described in the first image using the 5/8 seam. When you are sewing garments, you want the seams to look nice on the inside. That can be done using your conventional sewing machine and applying the zig zag stitch to the edge, shown above, or if you have serger you can use it to get the look shown above. The orange stitching is the zig zag stitch, the magenta stitching is the serger. 

The serger cuts the edge while you sew. This creates a clean and finished edge on any kind of fabric, from wovens to knits. You can tell why people invest in sergers, because of how good it looks. 

I sewed for years using my conventional machine, before I invested in a serger, using my zig zag setting. When you join the fabric together using a 5/8 seam sewn with a straight stitch, thats how you make a common garment seam. 

Check out the side seam of your jeans! You will see this seam there.

Front and back of a tee shirt seam.

Front and back of a tee shirt seam.

The tee shirt seam! Look at the bottom of your tee shirt, you will see two lines of stitching. On the first night of Basic Knit Wear, I teach you how to make this seam on your conventional sewing machine using a double needle. If you are going to sew a tee shirt, or anything that stretches, you have to know how to do this seam. All seams sewn on jersey or stretchy fabric have to stretch. I'll teach you this seam and you can use it for all your knitwear projects.

The Flatlock Seam, front and back.

The Flatlock Seam, front and back.

I just discovered this seam! I was doing research on sergers and the different seams you can create with them when you change the settings. Do you like those super cool athletic pants, like Lululemon makes, with the exposed seams? This is a seam that you can use with your serger to get that effect and make yourself some running leggings. This stitch is decorative, so you can also use it to create lines on clothing or home textiles that add visual interest to what you're making.

There you have it! I hope you enjoyed checking out some of the basics and learning what you can do with these 5 seams. If you are new to sewing, we've got the right classes for you! Sign up for our Beginner's Sewing or our Basic Knit Wear class and you will be sewing in no time!