diy: sdsa seam finishes + underlining techniques

How is cutting out your dress fabric coming along? I thought this would be a great time to discuss seam finishes, as this is something you want to consider before you start sewing. (It also is a great time to do some seam finish samples with your fabric scraps!) I've listed a variety of options for finishes, but of course I've probably neglected some and would love to hear what your favorite finishes are for a garment of this type!

Hand Overcast This is a good option if you have a very soft, supple fabric where seam finishes could show through the right side of the fabric as a ridge. Simply whipstitch the seam allowances, about 1/4" deep after stitching the seam. Can be done either with the seams together or singly if pressed open.

Pinked An easy option, especially if your fabric is firmly woven. Pink the seam edges after stitching, and make sure your pinking shears are sharp! This works best on firmly-woven fabrics that don't ravel too much. You can also stitch closely to the pinked edge with a straight or zig-zag stitch to help reduce raveling further.

Serging Now not everyone has a serger, so don't worry--I've included plenty of other options as well. I, however, do like to use my serger for day dresses like this. It's quick and holds up relatively well and gives the garment a professionally-made look inside. For this project I'm serging all the edges of the fabric before I start construction. I just drop the blade so the edges aren't cut. Because I'm also underlining my fabric, I'll be doing this after I baste the underlining on.

Turned Under and Stitched This is like "hemming" the edges of the seam. Simply press under a scant 1/8" and straight stitch after stitching the seam. The downside is that it's a bit tough or impossible on highly curved edges.

Zig-Zag One of my favorites in my pre-serger days. You can just zig-zag in the seam allowance, close to the cut edge and on most fabrics this will be fine. However, an extra-layer of protection against raveling that I learned years ago in a sewing class: next to the zig-zag (inside or outside) do a row of straight stitches. Works great--I have lots of garments in my closet that have this finish! Can be done with seams together or pressed open.

One finish I did leave off the list is bound seams. This finish, while producing a very nice seam, is a bit bulky for the majority of fabrics recommended for this design. That being said, I do know there is a tricot seam binding tape out there that would suit this better if you were set on binding. I would highly recommend doing up a sample first, just to check how it reacts with your fabric and if there is any show-through on the right side!

Now onto underlining. I know many of you have expressed interest in how to underline a garment, and it is frankly one of the easiest techniques out there! Underlining is great to add a bit of body to any fabric and/or make it a bit more opaque when working with sheers. I found some great resources to introduce you to the concept of underlining (if it's new to you!):
My next post early next week will be about applying the interfacing and starting on the bodice sewing! I think because I already covered how to sew the shoulder yoke, I'll probably cover everything up to topstitching the midriff piece on. So that gives you this weekend to cut out your fabric, attach your underlining (if applicable) and gear up for the next step--sewing!


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