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questions about flat felled seams
montecore

montecore
Member since 5/31/08
Posts: 39
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Date: 7/2/08 8:38 PM

trying my first pants out... the pattern calls for flat felling all the seams.

first question -- does this mean i should chalk mark all the seam allowances on the outside instead of the inside since the seam gets sewn on the right side first? that seemed odd to me, but if i don't mark the seam on the outside i can't see where to sew that first seam line.

then, for the crotch seam my pattern instructs me to first sew the seam (actually in the picture it looks like it is telling me to sew it right sides together, but isn't it the other way for a flat felled seam?). then it says to clip the curve, which makes sense because that inseam crotch curve is very curvy. and then it says to flat fell the seam. but... if i clip the curve, doesn't that ruin the flat felled seam? don't i need all that seam allowance fabric to be smooth and uncut to make the seam look neat? i'm confused.

Tom P
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Tom P  Friend of PR
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In reply to montecore


Date: 7/2/08 11:00 PM

Are you thinking about a French seam? With that seam treatment, you stitch the wrong sides together, then turn the seam allowance to the inside and stitch the right sides to enclose the raw edge. If you want, you can then topstitch down the seam allowance for even better strength and a cleaner finish.

With a normal flat fell seam, you can stitch it normally, then trim about 1/4in. from the side to be under. Fold the wider seam allowance over the narrower, and tuck it in, the topstitch the whole thing down. It works better for me to use a felling foot and to stitch the wider SA lapped over the narrower, then to stitch both down with the topstitching.

Any of these treatments can be problematic with curved seams, but you can do it. The crotch curve in some of my jeans is flat-felled.

Finally, if you want to, you can just fold the SA to one side and stitch it down, dispensing with all the trimming, folding over, holding in place ... It won't be as clean a finish, but it will look as good from the outside.

CM_Sews
CM_Sews
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Date: 7/2/08 11:37 PM

If you sew the first seam of the flat felled seam with right sides together, the folded over seam allowance will be on the inside of the garment.

Conversely, if you sew the first seam of the flat felled seam with the wrong sides together, the folded over seam allowance will be on the outside of the garment.

I've seen it done both ways in RTW, depending on the desired effect.

Here are some instructions for both flat felled and french seams that might be useful:
Seams: Flat Felled, French, Flat

CMC

KitnRose
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KitnRose
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Date: 7/2/08 11:46 PM

I love flat felled seams - the always look so clean and professional.

What sort of fabric are you using? If it's lighter weight then Tom's first method works well. If heavier, the second, where you leave the raw edges exposed. If you're worried about raveling and don't have a serger you can sew them together with a narrow zigzag right along the edges and then continue with flat felling them. The zig zag will serve the same purpose as the serging in your jean seams. :)

I HIGHLY recommend using a flat fell foot or a blind hem foot for flat felling - I've been doing flat felled seams for a while using my blind hem foot. Recently I was sewing up a gown and didn't feel like switching feet and just used my regular foot. Huge mistake. Those seams were easily the worst I'd ever made, including my very first flat felled seams. So a testimony to using the right equipment! It's hard to keep the lines neat and even with your machine's standard zig zag foot!

------
Kit
"Never underestimate the power of the right dress!" - drsue
"Hyu gots to know how to sveet tok de costumers, dollink" - Girl Genius, 11-24-08

montecore

montecore
Member since 5/31/08
Posts: 39
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In reply to Tom P


Date: 7/3/08 12:15 PM

so when you flat fell a crotch seam to you clip the curve or not? on the front crotch i didn't notice the part of the directions that said to clip the curve, so i just did the flat fell seam without clipping, and it seemed okay even with the sharp curve. with the back crotch i noticed the instructions to clip but quickly realized that if i clipped to the seam allowance the way i usually do (or staystitch and clip or whatever) that would totally mess up the flat fell seam. so i wasn't sure what to do. why would it say to clip if you need all that seam allowance fabric to look nice and fold over neatly?

oh and speaking of staystitching -- should my directions have told me to staystitch the crotch seam? it didn't say to do this -- but shouldn't curves be staystitched?

CM_Sews
CM_Sews
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Date: 7/3/08 12:51 PM

I've done flat fell seams on curved seams and haven't clipped. The FF seam itself is narrow and flat and fits under the presser foot just fine without clipping. The fabric on either side of the seam isn't flat while I'm sewing the seam allowance down, but it really doesn't need to be.

CMC

montecore

montecore
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Date: 7/4/08 5:44 PM

okay, more flat fell seam confusion with these pants.

the instruction have all the seams on these pants flat felled. i'm now trying to join the back to the front, and, once the sides are stitched i can't figure out at all how to flat fell the inner crotch leg seams without sewing straight through to the other side. i was trying to sew the topstitching really slowly and keep pulling back the other side of the pants, but by the time i got all the way in to the crotch i couldn't do it any more so i ended up sewing an ugly pleat. i can't figure out how this can possibly work -- how can you sew a flat topstitch seam on a pant leg that is already sewn into a skinny tube without catching the other side of the pant leg?

montecore

montecore
Member since 5/31/08
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Date: 7/5/08 9:49 PM

never mind, i figured it out. it just involved extreme scrunching up of the pant leg as it goes through the machine. tricky but i got it on my second try.

Jan1ce
Jan1ce
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Member since 6/22/08
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Date: 2/11/09 3:55 AM

Are flat felled seams best done on a serger or with the flat fell, lapped seam foot on a regular sewing machine. All opinions are most appreciated. Thanks.

------
Jan

Iowastitcher
Iowastitcher
Beginner
Member since 11/17/08
Posts: 2
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Date: 3/10/13 3:44 PM

Several years ago I saw Kenneth King show a technique on TV for making a flat felled seam without trimming seam allowances. Looked so slick at the time but cannot recall this. Anyone know how or a link to see this technique?

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