Seam Sample Series Part 1: Essential Seams

To begin this series I wanted to start with the most common everyday seams. No matter what your project is, these seams are ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL. I want you to succeed and I know that if you know your way in and out of just a few seams then you will be able to sew ANYTHING! This list will be the short and the sweet if you're pressed for time and can only learn a few, here are the few you absolutely have to know!

Use the "RESOURCES" tab to help you find items easily that I recommend using!


For this mini-course you will need:

3 squares of cotton fabric 6" x 7.25" (100% cotton preferred for learning)

Fabric scissors

All purpose Thread (you can use any sewing machine thread brand, I like Gutermann)

a ruler

A sewing machine (could be any machine you are comfortable with!)

PRO TIP I want to recommend that you find a way to make yourself a little binder or folder with all of your seam samples so that you have a visual reminder if you need to refer back to how to do something or what that particular seam looks like. Add notes or steps and attach the fabric sample to your note page. Here's a FREE printable one!

Seam Sample Binder Printable
Download PDF • 354KB


So, I know, the boring old straight seam, but if you can get this one down you are ready to sew most of every basic job! Stay with me....

For this sample start with a fabric square cut in half two. Line them up together with right sides together. "Right sides together" just means that the outside of the fabric or the side you want to show outwards both face together when sewing so that when you open up the seam the right side is facing outward and the seam allowance is all towards the inside of the garment or project.

On the sewing machine, line up the left side (where you will sew) with the 5/8" or cm line. Most commercial sewing patterns have a seam allowance of 5/8" but check the pattern if you are using one because it will tell you. Place the sample down, and let down your presser foot. Begin sewing with three to five stitches and do a backstitch by holding down the reverse button or leaver. then go back the three to five stitches and then release the button and stitch forward normally the length of the sample. This process creates an anchor at the edge to secure the seam. You will stitch across the length of the sample and then repeat this anchor process at the other end. If you do not anchor your seams they will pull apart. To release your sample, make sure you bring your needle to the highest position and lift your presser foot. Pull the sample to the left of the machine and snip the threads.


Sometimes you just don't have a sewing machine. How do you get a nice secure line of stitching without a sewing machine? I will tell you friends that they made sturdy clothing to last and sewed everything WITHOUT sewing machines for hundreds of years!

FUN FACT the first mechanical sewing machine was patented in 1830 by French tailor Barthélemy Thimonnier.

The most secure hand stitch for a straight seam is the "backstitch".

For this sample grab one fabric square, cut in half and line them up again right sides together. This time sew down your seam line with the stitch I'm about to describe. Plan to work from right to left if you are right-handed. If you are left-handed, work from left to right.


Back to the sewing machine for this one! Check your machine settings and look for the stitch indicator for the ZIG ZAG stitch. The actual sewing process is the same as the straight stitch you line up the fabric put down the presser foot and begin sewing three stitches and a back stitch by holding the reverse button and sewing one stitch back and the release it to continue forward. This is your seam anchor. The trick with the Zig Zag stitch is that the stitch width dial makes the stitches wider and the stitch length makes them tighter. The machine will usually have small sketches to show you which is which. The Zig zag stitch is commonly used to finish off raw edges in the absence of a serger and to sew seam lines on stretchy fabric.

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