How Combining Two Different Sewing Worlds Can Perfect Joining Intersecting Seams
You may wonder what in the world quilt making techniques and couture sewing techniques have in common. While they may differ, both require precision and, in the end, present creations of pure artistry.
A common problem both communities of sewists face, and have mastered, is getting seams to align properly. If you’re a perfectionist like me you probably hate it when you are off, especially after you thought you nailed it.
When working with joining a bodice to skirt or inserting an armhole, it can be a bit tricky to match those seams, but it’s not an impossible challenge. To avoid pulling out the dreaded seam ripper, I have found some useful tips that have really made a difference in nailing seam alignment every time. Follow the combination of techniques below to meet the challenge.
- First, use a quilting technique to join seams. When joining two pieces together, first, finger press the seam allowances on both fabric pieces in opposite directions. You do not have to finger press the entire seam allowance. Since you want the seams to align together right at the stitching lines, you will not be leaving the seam allowances flat and open as usual at this intersecting point.
- Next, put wrong sides of the fabric together as you normally would. Be sure you are aligning the pieces at the stitching line, as it is the stitching lines you are snuggling up to each other. You can even feel each piece abut against the other with your fingers. This is how quilters nail it every time! In the photos, you can see how the seam allowance is folded over on opposing sides. This technique helps create the aligned seam!
- Pin the pieces together on the stitching line, not above it, not below it. This is a great practice, and by doing so you can visually check and see if you nailed seam alignment before you start to sew. It’s better to insert the pin at an angle to prevent slippage, just be sure you insert the pin right on the sewing line where the seam allowances meet first. Then, place a few pins on each side of the adjoining seams to prevent slippage.
- Basting is your friend! A couture technique I learned is to always baste right on the stitching line, which is especially helpful when joining intersecting seams. This technique provides more accuracy. Do not baste 1/8 of an inch away from the stitch line as you may have been taught, it’s just not as accurate. You will also have more control and better alignment if you baste by hand. It's quicker too, since you will be able to see exactly where you are stitching to ensure proper alignment. And it’s always a benefit to do anything we can to avoid that seam ripper!
- Another couture technique that ensures accuracy is to start sewing your pieces together right on your basting stitch. Yikes right! Weren’t you always told not to sew over your basting stitches? Well couture sewists do it and so can you. Be sure to start your sewing at least an inch from where the seams will join as this will also help with alignment. Finally, pull out those basting stitches.
Voila, perfectly matching seams! I hope these techniques help you match those seams and avoid the seam ripper. I’d love to hear how it works for you.
P.S. If couture sewing is an interest be sure to check out Susan Khalje’s website: www.susankhalje.com for couture patterns, classes and sewing club. Her website and sewing club is a favorite of mine.
Until next time, sew something fancy!