How to Finish Seams without a Serger: My Five Favorite Seam Finishes

I’m on a mission to improve my sewing technique and sew professional quality clothing, and I want to help you do the same! One way to make good quality homemade clothes is to finish the seams. Seams are most often professionally finished with a serger. However, not all of us own a serger. Thankfully there are lots of ways to finish seams without a serger that are durable and professional. In this post I’m sharing my five favorite ways to finish seams without a serger.

A Note on Pinking Shears:

Pinking shears are a common tool that can be used to finish seams. When sewing clothing with natural fibers (such as cotton and linen) I haven’t had a lot of success using pinking shears. The seams still fray when they go through the wash. This is why I tend to stick with other seam finishing methods.

Five Ways to Finish Seams without a Serger

One: Zig-zag Stitch

Out of all the seam finishes, the zig-zag is the easiest, but it can also be the messiest and least professional. I save this seam finish for seams that can’t really be finished in another way. The zig-zag finish is great for curved seams or when finishing lots of layers of fabric. I also use it when I am in a hurry and I know that my seam won’t be as exposed to lots of washing.

Tutorial for how I sew a neat zig-zag finish here

How to Sew a Neater Zig-Zag Finish (a part of the "Finish Seams without a Serger" series)


Two: French Seam

This is probably my favorite! The French seam creates a beautiful finish where all the raw edges are encased inside the seam. It is also super easy: if you can sew a straight line, you can sew a French seam. You just have to plan ahead and add a couple of steps. The French seam can only be used on straight seams, and not with heavy fabric.

Tutorial for the French seam here

Three: False French Seam

This seam finish yields the same result as the French seam with a slightly different process. I like to use it when I forget to plan ahead for a French seam. Like the French seam, the false French seam can only be used on straight seams without heavy fabric.

Tutorial for the false French seam here

How to Sew a False French Seam (A part of the "Finish Seams without a Serger." series)

Four: Clean Finish

This seam finish is a little less common, but is super versatile and can look very professional. I like to use clean finish on straight seams that need to be pressed open instead of to the side, as a French seam can only be pressed to one side. This technique requires a little more precision, but with practice can be a simple way to finish seams with just your sewing machine.

Tutorial for the clean finish here

Five: Bias Bound Seams

You might see this seam finish in high quality ready-to-wear clothing. It is a beautiful way to add polish and a fun detail to the inside of your garments. Out of all these seam finishes, it’s the one I’ve had less experience with, but that I’m working on the most. I’m excited to further test out this technique with curved seams such as an armhole seam.

Tutorial for a bias bound seam here

What is your favorite way to finish seams? Do you have any tips for those of us who are making do without a serger?

Love, Jess


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