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Well finished seams are key to achieving a professional look. Do it well and it makes your piece. Here are 5 tips to sewing a perfect seam on a sewing machine.
1. First, press, press, press. The more you take time to iron your fabric and your seam the better your finished piece will turn out. Iron your fabric before you start. Press your seam flat open or towards one direction. Often, vertical garment seams will be pressed towards the centre back. Check the pattern for instructions.
2. Align, pin, sew. Before pinning align your edges. If there is a significant inconsistency in your edge check the piece against your pattern for errors before you continue.
3. For awkward seams draw a line along your stitch line using tailor's chalk or embroidery marker. This gives you a guide to follow. This is useul for beginners or if your fabric is bulky or difficult to handle. This technique is also useful if you find the guides on the needle plate hard to make out.
4. Next, pin or baste along your seam. While pinning may seem like an unnecessary chore it will ensure your seam is flat and even. Insert your pins about 1-2 inches apart and perpendicular to your stitch line to make them easy to pull out when sewing. Do not sew over the pins with your machine. This may result in shattered needles or worse.
5. Top Stitching or Edge Stitching. Finish seams or hems with panache by top stitching. While not suitable for all seams this is a good way to add a level of sophistication to your item and secure your seam. The main rule about top stitching - keep an even distance from the seam. Your top stitch line should usually be 1/16 or 1/8 inch from the seam unless the design benefits from a wider gap. Whichever size you choose stick to it precisely otherwise it can look messy and amateur. Before you start make sure you press your seam so the seam allowance is underneath where you will top stitch (either one side or both sides of your seam). Use a slightly longer stitch length for top stitching so the stitches are defined (I use 3.0 on the studio machines).