I've been flat felling the seams on my shirts since the outset. Always
turns into a bother around the armscye. Or just a plain bother all
I've decided to ditch that route and instead use the overlock-like
stitch my machine has on all the seams, then fold the allowance over and
sew what looks like a flat fell seam 1/4" off the original seam.
No one will know until I take my clothes off, and that ain't been
happening around company lately.
Please don't give up on your flat felled seams. You can cheat on the
armscye--I sew a regular seam, serge it, then topstitch on the
outside. The armscye seam allowance goes toward the shirt, making it
easier to work with.
I do a variation of a felled seam on my historic costumes and
historic doll clothing. But I do the seam from the inside, and the
"felled" part of the seam is hemstitched down, forming a 1/8-inch
There's no more fun to it. Its tedious as all get out. I have a foot
for it and everything, but I still get spots where the long piece
doesn't curl completely under, and I get exposed edges which I either
have to go back and fix, or forget.
I get the same effect doing as I described. The reason for the flat
fell is to enclose all the fabric edges, I think. If I overlock the
edges, it will serve pretty much the same purpose, unless that edge gets
worn and comes apart, which I probably can after a long while.
Another problem with the flat fells is that the fabric can sort of form
a hard knot from all that fabric folded over. But I guess its just as
many layers with the way I'm describing.
I'll see. GOtta make a new shirt first. Still looking at the half
finished jacket I started, and got stuck because of inadequate pattern
How gloriously traditional! :) :) I have exactly this method
described in one of my 1930's sewing manuals, and saw it in the flesh
(or fabric, really!) on a much older shirt in the V&A. :) I'd do it if
the customer paid enough - it looks so fantastic when done and is
incredibly durable on a hand sewn garment.
I don't bother with a fancy foot. I just sew the seam, trim off the
shirt seam allowance to half the width and press the sleeve allowance in
place before sewing it. I stick a pin in any okkard spots, then sew. I
got perfect results doing this at the weekend on a shirt for young James.
I made a shirt for my hubby over 20 years ago. I straight stitched the
seams and then zigzagged and trimmed them. I didn't bother to sew them
down as this was a practice shirt to make sure the pattern fitted and
worked. It did, and he still wears that shirt!
The only place I get anything like this is over the seams of the yoke,
but if you hammer it flat with the iron, and trim if off properly.
there's no problem.
Which pattern are you using? Where are you stuck? We'll help you past
the sticking point.
I really don't blame you. If you were to look at a RTW ladies blouse,
you'd see they are almost 100% serged seams.
For all blouse and shirts that I make, I use 100% serged seams. I only
use the sewing machine for the collars, cuffs and the front plackets -
oh - and the button holes!
For shirts for the men in my life, if I'm feeling like a more authentic
finish, I press the seams flat, and topstitch about 1/4" away from the
seam. As you noted, looks authentic from the outside, and no one is
likely to examine the inside too closely!
I *might* just do this for one of my own shirts that I have planned
which is a loud check. Now all I need is some time......
I started doing felled seams like this years ago when I was teaching
textile resoration to my museology students. I had a bunch of
extremely dirty undergarments of varying periods of the nineteenth
century. I decided to use some of them as class projects. The first
step is to identify the fabric--in this case either linen or cotton,
using a linen tester and then a microscope. One of the chemises in
the group had such extremely tiny stitches that I assumed it was
machine done, and dated it as late nineteenth century. The chemise
style was one that was used for many decades. But the microscope
proved that the tiny stitches were done by hand, and the felled part
of the seam was not even an eighth of an inch wide. The brodery
Anglaise, and the style of the chemise showed that it could have been
much older than I had first thought. For example, the armholes were
shaped with gussets, one inside and one outside, to form the curve of
Back to the present. The only time I ever had trouble with flat-
felled seams was with a loosely woven linen fabric, out of which I
made a jeans style jacket. I should have made false flat felled
seams, but didn't, and the first time it was washed, it pretty much
turned into a rag. So now it's false ones when using loosely woven
I haven't done a true flat fell seams for yonks, as I find it so much
quicker to overlock the seam, press to one side, and stitch 6mm (1/4")
on the outside. All my PJ's, nightshirts, etc have been done this way
and NONE of the satin has frayed at all, this is a good test I feel.
Since I now own a CoverPro 1000 (3 needle) this gives further options.
Like you Taunto, nobody ever sees my clothes either, but I like to know
they won't fall apart when I'm least expecting it!! LOL
Its the Belgian Military Chef's Jacket, Folkwear #133.
I think I just figured out the part I was stuck on.
"Press under 1/2 in/13 mm at bottom edge of Jacket. Turn again on
Hemline and topstitch or slip-stitch pressed edge to Jacket."
I guess this had me bamfuzzled until now, though it looks so simple now.
I'm also dealing with fear from not doing a jacket before, so my head
gets backed up easily.
I just realized what made me enter this turn of events regarding flat
fells. This chef's jacket requires extensive flat-felled seams on its
many seams. I'm using some very unravelly sueded poly, backed with some
flannel for body and warmth. There's no way I can get this combination
to roll under, so I just decided to become a conscientious objector.
Hm... That does sound rather older, doesn't it! Last year I was in the
V&A looking at Tipu's Tiger, and one of the Indian coats in a nearby
case was plain white muslin one... It was cloud fine cotton muslin, and
had a hand rolled hem about an eighth of an inch wide. 75 METRES of
hand rolled hem! The stitches was so tiny as to be almost invisible.
It's dated to the mid eighteenth C.
There are still, in London, specialist stitchers who do nothing but hand
worked buttonholes for the bespoke tailoring trade. The very thought
makes my hands ache, but it is good to see that there's enough work to
keep at least two in full time employment!
Argh, yes! Cut those seam allowances a tad wider, stitch and then 4
thread overlock, press sideways, top-stitch. The only other method to
use to seam stuff like that durably on something that needs regular
washing and is unlined is to hand stitch the whole shebang, using a
particular Viking seam method that I need to look up again. I've seen
it copied by re-enactors, and I'll have a hunt about and see if I can
find it described or shown somewhere on line. It ends up looking like a
sort of felled seam, but is stretchy... Great on bias cut areas.
Ah, yes. You could just overlock that edge and turn it up once if you
are doing this just for home consumption, but turning up the edge and
then stitching it in place is just as quick. Press the first turning,
press the hem turning, stitch. Takes but a few moments.
Running through it in your head a few times is always a good idea. I
like 'bamfuzzled'. A true portmanteau word: both bamboozled and
It's cloth. It has no brain cells. Don't let it get the better of you! ;)
You are doing fine, and once this project is finished, coats will hold
no fear for you in the future. Gents natty suiting next! :)
There are some places a felled seam just will not go. If you are
mounting the outer cloth on the lining rather than sewing them
separately, this is one of them! Serge and press and top-stitch: there
are limits to insanity!
OHHH! Please tell me more about that Viking stitch. I don't think I
know it, or know it by another name. I need to add it to my
repertoire. Right now, I'm making a dragon for my middle grandson,
who is moving to a big house with his own room, which he wants to have
a medieval theme. I'm doing all the quilting by hand. I'm down to
one wing and the feet.
I cannot find any illustrations on the net, but there are mentions of
various book on Stefan's Florilegium. This looks like the most
"Paul Norlund Meddelelser Om Gronland (Copenhagen, 1924) (or in English
The Buried Norsemen at Herjolfsnes). It has excellent patterns,
and comparisons of the different finds at Herjolfsnes (Greenland) and a
good discussion of fibers, seams, finishing, mending, etc. There are
flat patterns as well as sketches of the garments, and illustrations
from ms. with similar garments."
There's a brief but useful note here, with details based on extant
garments found in excavations: