Our Quick Guide to Sewing Types


Our Quick Guide to Sewing Types

Simply put, a seam is where two or more layers of material are connected by stitches. Seams are described as flat, overlapped, overlapped, tied, or ornamental, and each differs in appearance and physical properties. The seams produced by industrial sewing machines are used in a wide range of apparel and non-apparel applications to hold everything together, from t-shirts to tents! Choosing the right type of stitching ensures that your finished product stays together and is fit for purpose. This quick guide should help you get familiar with the most common types of sewing and their applications so you can choose the right process to meet your needs!

The different types of seams are separated into these main classes:

Class 1 – Overlapping seams

Class 2 – Folded seams

Class 3 – Bound seams

Class 4 – Flat seams

Class 5 – Decorative/ornamental seams

Class 6 – Edge finishing/cleaning

Class 1 – Overlapping seams

Overlapping seams are simple to sew and are commonly used for a wide range of applications, including garments such as lingerie and shirts.

These seams are created when two or more pieces of fabric are overlapped and joined near one edge with one or more rows of stitches. The work is then usually turned over to conceal the stitches and ends of the fabric to create a neat finish.

Within this class, different sewing variations are created depending on the type of stitch used. An overlapping seam can be sewn with a 301 (standard lockstitch) or 401 (2-thread chain stitch) stitch to create a simple seam.

This type of seam can also be sewn with a 500 (overlock) stitch or with combination stitches such as a 516 (safety stitch) to create tidy and load-bearing seams.

Class 2 – Folded seams

Overlapping seams are created by joining two or more layers of material with overlapping or folded edges. This can be done with one or more rows of stitches. There are 2 common variations: the Lap Felled type and the French seams.

The Lap Felled type are strong seams that protect the edges of the fabric from fraying. They are formed in a single sewing operation and are commonly used for making garments such as jeans. It is normally sewn using a 401 chain stitch.

French seams are flat, folded seams that involve two sewing operations but have only one row of visible seams on the top surface. They are commonly used for making rainwear and sewn front facings on jackets and dresses.

Class 3 – Bound seams

Bonded seams are formed by folding a binding strip over the edge of the material. The two edges of the binding are then joined to the fabric by one or more rows of stitching. This produces a clean edge on a seam that would otherwise look unsightly and be exposed to wear. They are most often seen on the necklines of t-shirts.

These seams are usually sewn with a 401 (chain stitch) or a 301 (lockstitch).

Sewing class 4 – Flat seams

Flat seams (sometimes called butt seams) are formed when two edges of fabric (flat or folded) are brought together and topstitched with a zigzag lockstitch (304), chain stitch (401) or coverstitch (class 600). They are used to make a junction without creating bulk on the fabric, especially with underwear or fine knit garments. The edges of the material do not overlap, hence the name flat seam. The looper thread(s) should be soft but strong, and the cover thread is often meant to be decorative and secure.

Sewing Class 5 – Decorative/Ornamental Seams

Decorative seams are formed on a single layer of material using a series of stitches along a straight or curved line or in an ornamental pattern. More complex variations include various shapes of welts that produce a raised line along the surface of the fabric. This type of stitching is used to create decorative effects.

Sewing Class 6 – Edge Finishing/Cleaning

This type of sewing is simply the finishing of the edge of a single ply of material by folding it over or covering it with a stitch. This is often achieved by overlocking with a serger. This method reinforces a cut edge with topstitching to clean it up and prevent fraying. This type of sewing includes other popular methods of producing a neat edge such as hemming and blindstitching.

No matter what type of item you are looking to produce or what type of sewing is required, we can provide you with the perfect industrial sewing machine! All our machines are delivered to you fully assembled, configured and ready to use. For further information please contact our team via the contact form on the website or by emailing [email protected]


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