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New to sewing (little over a year experience), don’t own a serger and won’t be getting one in the near future (we’re watching our $$). That being said, I almost don’t want to sew anything because I want those nice overlock finishes.

My question:
What can I do (besides french seaming. I hate french seaming) to seal my fabric and avoid unraveling until I can get a serger? Pinking shears? Sealant? What works.


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  • 121bcd6a71a_avatar_large

    Jun 24, 2011, 11.06 PMby harrietbazley

    Blanket stitch

    I had to blanket stitch every single long seam in my Curtain-A-lining skirt and it took literally months (mainly because I kept putting off getting down to the next bit!). After that, French seaming held enormous appeal!

    Had you considered other concealed-edge techniques? I used run-and-fell seams for my next project, which saved a great deal of time as well as giving a neater finish; felling down the edges can only really be done by hand, but I believe there’s a machine-stitched equivalent to this seam type.

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    Jun 25, 2011, 07.32 AMby katexxxxxx

    Felled seams work well for things with straight or gently curved seams, as do French seams. For other seam finishes, take a look here:


    I find the best zigzag for seam finishing is the three-step one, with three small stitches on each leg of the zigzag.

  • Sewingprofilepic_large

    Jul 8, 2011, 03.41 AMby tinalousimon

    Hi, I just ran across a video showing several different styles of seams and thought I would share them with you. It’s a great little tutorial and looks like it’s got a follow up coming as it says it’s episode one. I just got a serger off of ebay for very little money—it’s an older Kenmore but it’s made by Janome and it looks exactly like the ones they make today—-the inside parts anyways. It was made in 1987 and still looks and runs like new. I hope this gives you some ideas.


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    Jul 11, 2011, 01.43 PMby Eliza Altenderfer

    According to my mum, a zig zag stitch will work – not quite as fancy, but works!

  • Missing

    Jul 11, 2011, 06.41 PMby PDTexas

    It depends on your fabric. For seams on a knit, a very narrow zigzag works well as a stretch seam.

    Overlocking on knits is usually unnecessary. It’s more for aesthetic value.

    Overlocking on wovens has functional value. You can zigzag the SA, or pink the edges. You can also do a second line of straight stitching and trim close to that. On very fragile wovens, this is not advised. On a more densely woven material, it can be just as effective without adding the width of a zigzag, or the “bubble” that can happen when zig-zagging.

    If you want a cover stitch, that is a different animal. Most machines will allow a double needle. Some newer machines even have a mock cover stitch which uses a double needle. This gives you two rows of stitching on the top of the fabric, and a zig-zag or mock cover stitch on the bottom, which allows for some give on stretch matertial.

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    Jul 12, 2011, 02.20 AMby thecuriouskiwi

    I zig-zagged all my raw edges for years until I got my overlocker. It’s sometimes a pain on lightweight fabrics but I’ve not had any of my old projects fall apart yet :) Back then I never knew about hong-kong seaming (which I now love) or any of those other types of seams so don’t stress :)

  • Dscf6507_large

    Jul 18, 2011, 11.38 AMby urbandon

    Great tips here already so I will add the DONT’S. Don’t use sealant- usually stains or becomes stiff to the touch. Pinking edges really don’t look cool. Don’t be afraid of French seams- they are beautiful and durable.

  • Avatar_1_large

    Jul 18, 2011, 11.44 AMby Anne Wagenhauser

    I usually zig zag. My old machine doesn’t do the 3step, but I also play with fell seams, french seams and the welt. My fave by far, althougth not necessarily always applicable, is the hong kong finish.. I only use my overlocker for jerseys, it’s waaay too much hassle to fiddle with the tensions to use everytime!

    4 Replies
    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      Jul 18, 2011, 03.21 PMby katexxxxxx

      False thinking, m’dear! learn to fiddle… Gets easier after an hour or so, and is time well spent. :)

    • Avatar_1_large

      Jul 18, 2011, 03.35 PMby Anne Wagenhauser

      I know, it way well be a false economy, maybe when I get a “normal” overlocker :D

    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      Jul 19, 2011, 09.17 AMby katexxxxxx

      You have an abnormal overlocker? ;P

    • Avatar_1_large

      Jul 19, 2011, 10.54 AMby Anne Wagenhauser

      lol, just about! It’s a 5 reel bernina, and it drives me mad every time I use it!

  • 8de967825ed059ce8351fc1567d28fe164e8e196_large

    Jul 19, 2011, 07.52 PMby shaunie

    Zigzag or you could do the hongkong seams where you use binding

  • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

    Jul 19, 2011, 08.05 PMby katexxxxxx

    Anne, I’ll take that Bernina 5 thread off your hands for you. I could just set it up for cover stitch and leave it like that… :D

    For edge neatening you really only need three threads, and seams are usually done with 4. If your’e doing summat really tough, you can add a chaonstitch ‘safety rail’ seam, or set up for coverstitch with 3 or 4 threads. I don’t do enough of the coverstitch to be bothered with it, but I’d take it as a freebie!

    1 Reply
    • Avatar_1_large

      Jul 20, 2011, 03.39 PMby Anne Wagenhauser

      oooo, maybe i need lessons! I inherited it from my mother in law about 15 years ago now, and never really got the hang of it. I didn’t realise it did a cover sitich… :o

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    Jul 21, 2011, 10.28 PMby Marla Rodriguez

    One of my favorite way to finish seams are to trim them to maybe about 1/4 of an inch, and then encase them in a whip stitch! I’ve never tried this method of heavy fabrics, but on light weight fabrics it looks very nice… the seam allowance almost looks nonexisestent.

  • Let_s_sew_blog_copy_5_large

    Jul 21, 2011, 10.42 PMby MaycieAfterFive

    Hi! Straight stitch as usual, then cut the edges with pinking shears. It comes out really cute (even after wash)

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