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I’m making a pencil skirt out of a polyester gabardine that tends to fray at the edges. The pattern instructions don’t call for me to finish the side seams or the vent and I’m worried about how this will do in the wash. I’m not that easy on my clothes, either.

How should I finish the edges? Or should I just use an overcast stitch for all the seams and leave the edges alone?

I’m having trouble using the overcasting stitch because of tunneling. The fabric is just too flimsy and I don’t want to have to interface the entire side seam, and it still tunnels with the interfacing anyway. It’s not a tension issue and I’m using a brand new size 9 needle. Should I just buy a temporary wash-out fabric stabilizer/stiffener?

The garment will be lined and it has a 5/8" seam allowance.


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  • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

    Jun 10, 2013, 06.53 PMby katexxxxxx

    If you don’t have an overlocker to finish the edges, use a 3-step zigzag with a stitch width of about 4mm and a stitch length of about 3mm. The 3-step zz won’t curl up. For the future, you might like to indulge in an ‘over edge’ foot for your machine. This has a narrow finger that runs along the edge of the fabric and stops the machine pulling the thread tight on light weight fabrics.

    Here’s my page on simple seam finishes: http://www.diceyhome.free-online.co.uk/KatePages/Learning/Seams/seam_finishing.htm

  • Missing

    Jul 1, 2013, 09.50 PMby grennan

    Kate, nice diagrams!

    Other seam finishing techniques include

    Seams that finish themselves:…

    French seams felled seams

    Until I got a serger, practically everything I did had French seams—just sew a narrow seam with WRONG sides together, press, and then sew right side togeher.

    Many new sewers have learned this one after sewing tthe wrong sides together (literally) and figured it was easiest to keep it, turn and sew another seam next to the wrong one, (leaving the wrong one entombed).

    While it may seam like French seams would take the longest, they may be the fastest non-serger technique because it’s just two seams and pressing (rather than figuring out an overcast or zigzag.

    Seams with wrapped or bound edges: Hong Kong finish bias bound net bound

    If it’s good fabric, I’d use one of these or most of of kate’s instructions (except pinked which i’d use only in places that never come to light, such as cushions—but there you want the strengthof a piped or french seam.

    Old sewing books have lots of other techniques that essentially involve urning the edges any number of times and stitching at a variety of points in the process.

    My second favorite (for kids’ clothes, curtains, chiffony-things that aren’t going to be family heirlooms) is using the narrow-edge hemmer, as narrow as you have, and using it on any edge that would otherwise be exposed before sewing the pieces together.—but that’s sewing the same distance three times, and the French hem only two.

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