Flat Felled Seam Tutorial {The Easiest Method}

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The flat felled seam is a flat, comfortable seam suitable for medium-weight fabrics and garments requiring maximum durability. This seam makes sportswear and casual wear look very professional and if you have an active little toddler running around, it is hardwearing and perfect for overalls and rompers.  They are comfortable because the bulk of the seam is on the outside.

Flat Felled SeamPinFlat Felled Seam

Contents

What is a Flat Felled Seam? When to Use a Flat Felled SeamSupplies NeededFlat Felled Seam – Video TutorialHow to Sew a Flat Felled SeamStep 1 – Seam Allowance for Flat Felled SeamStep 2 – Stitch the SeamStep 3 – TrimmingStep 4 – Press and FoldStep 5 – Outside StitchingUsing a Felling FootCurves and Flat Felled SeamsVariations of the Flat Felled SeamVariation 1 – Mock Flat Felled SeamVariation 2 – Run and Fell SeamsVariation 3 – How to Sew a Flat Felled Seam Allowance by HandAlternatives to a Flat Felled SeamFlat Felled Seam vs TopstitchFlat Felled Seam vs French SeamFlat Felled Seam vs Edge StitchFlat Felled Seam – In ConclusionMore Types of Seam Articles

What is a Flat Felled Seam?

A flat felled seam is a simple seam designed to encase raw edges to prevent them from fraying as well as providing an attractive and extremely durable seam.

You can see from this photo below that the inside of the item has a clean finish with no raw edges or finishing visible. This makes it a great seam for people and especially kids who are irritated by serged seams.

These seams are a seam and seam finish all in one! If you don`t have a serger then this can be a great alternative to create simple flat open seams.

How to Sew a Flat Felled SeamHow to Sew a Flat Felled SeamPinHow to Sew a Flat Felled Seam

When to Use a Flat Felled Seam

The flat felled seam is ideal for denim and cotton fabrics but may be too bulky for heavier material. If you look at your denim jeans, shirts, or jackets, you will see lots of felled seams. Flat felled seams are also a great choice for linen since the raw edges are encased preventing them from fraying. It is more difficult to sew around curves and is best used on straight seams if you are a beginner.

Flat Felled Seam ExamplesFlat Felled Seam ExamplesPinSeam Examples

Supplies Needed

Sewing Basics – Sewing machine, scissors, thread, pinsPressing Tools – Iron and ironing boardPresser Foot – All-purpose sewing foot and optionally an edge stitch foot or felling foot.

Flat Felled Seam – Video Tutorial

Here is a video I made to show you how easy it is to sew this seam. Subscribe to my YouTube channel for weekly sewing videos.

Relax and press play below >>

Felled Seam VIDEO

How to Sew a Flat Felled Seam

Step 1 – Seam Allowance for Flat Felled Seam

Before you start, check your seam allowance width. It should be at least ⅝ inch (15mm) wide. Any less than this will result in a really narrow seam that will be hard to sew. Do a test of the seam on a scrap of fabric and adjust the seam allowance if necessary.

Step 2 – Stitch the Seam

Place your fabric pieces with wrong sides together and stitch along the normal seam line. (This is the opposite to what you would normally do so it may feel a little strange!)

Sew the Seam Sew the Seam PinSew the Flat Felled Seam

Press the seam open. If you have a delicate fabric, use a presser cloth for all pressing so you don`t damage the fabric.

Press OpenPress OpenPinPress Open

Step 3 – Trimming

Trim one side of the seam to a width of ⅛ inch (3mm). It is important that there is no fraying as loose threads can stick out and get caught under your stitching in the next step.

Trim One SideTrim One SidePinTrim One Side

Step 4 – Press and Fold

Press the wider seam allowance (untrimmed) edge over by ¼ inch (6mm).

Fold and PressFold and PressPinFold and Press

Fold the wider, pressed edge over to encase the trimmed edge. Make sure the pressed and folded edge is the same width all along the seam. It can look strange if it goes in and out. The smaller seam allowance which was trimmed is now hidden inside.

Fold the Pressed EdgeFold the Pressed EdgePinFold the Pressed Edge

Step 5 – Outside Stitching

Stitch along the open edge of the seam 1/16 (1.5mm) to ⅛ inch (3mm) from the edge. You want to stitch as close as you can without going off track.

Beginners: Use pins or hand baste with a large running stitch to secure the seam before you sew. Cotton normally irons a crisp edge but slippery fabrics or thin fabrics like silk and polyester will be difficult to sew without some hand basting first.

You can use your regular all-purpose sewing foot, but for really accurate and neat stitching, an edge stitching foot can really help. See how it has a guide in the center that will run along the edge of the seam. You will need to move your needle slightly to the left rather than leaving it in the center as you would for normal sewing.

Further Reading: How to use an edgestitch foot

Stitching with an Edge FootStitching with an Edge FootPinStitching with an Edge FootFlat Felled SeamFlat Felled SeamPinFlat Fell Seam Finished

Using a Felling Foot

The felling foot is a presser foot designed for sewing flat-felled seams. It will glide along the edge of the pressed seam and accurately stitch the edge. This specialty foot comes in different widths so you can match your desired seam allowance. Choose a wider foot for thicker fabrics and a narrower foot for fine or sheer fabrics.

The advantage of the felling foot is that it saves you from so much pressing as the fabric will guide you through the gap in the foot.

Curves and Flat Felled Seams

Flat felled seams are often sewn around curves in the center crotch area of pants and trousers. These give a durable seam that won`t unexpectedly rip and cause undue embarrassment.

If you are using the flat felled seam around a curved edge, then clip the trimmed edge of the seam before encasing the seam as this will give more elasticity to the seam and allow you to turn a corner. There is an example of this in my video.

When clipping, put tiny snips every ¼ inch (6mm) making sure you do not cut the stitching line. If you accidentally snip the stitching line, make sure you go back with your machine and reinforce it.

Further Reading:Clipping Sewing

However, it is worth noting that this seam is best suited to the straight path of your seam line or gently curved seams.

Variations of the Flat Felled Seam

Variation 1 – Mock Flat Felled Seam

A mock flat felled seam is a variation used for thicker fabrics such as denim and canvas. This seam is commonly found on the inside of your jeans and denim jackets. It is faster to complete and reduces bulk as the seam allowance does not need to be pressed over.

A mock flat felled seam is best sewn on seam allowances that are at least ½ inch (12mm) wide.

Step 1 – Finish One Side

Finish the seam allowance on one side of your fabric. Ideally, you would use a serger but a simple zig-zag stitch will do the trick if you just have a regular sewing machine. Ensure that the serger knife only cuts the minimum seam allowance as you don`t want your piece of fabric to become smaller.

Mock Flat Felled Seam - Finish One SideMock Flat Felled Seam - Finish One SidePinMock Flat Felled Seam – Finish One Side

Step 2 – Sew the Seam

With right sides together, sew the seam with your regular sewing machine with your desired seam allowance.

 Mock Flat Felled Seam - Sew the Seam Mock Flat Felled Seam - Sew the SeamPin Mock Flat Felled Seam – Sew the Seam

Step 3 – Trimming

Trim down the seam allowance that was unfinished to ¼ inch (6mm) in width.

 Mock Flat Felled Seam - Trim Mock Flat Felled Seam - TrimPin Mock Flat Felled Seam – Trim

Step 4 – Press to the Side

Press the finished seam allowance over the trimmed seam allowance. Check the right side to ensure there are no wrinkles and the seam is open and smooth.

 Mock Flat Felled Seam - Press Mock Flat Felled Seam - PressPin Mock Flat Felled Seam – Press

Step 5 – Stitch

Stitch the seam in place next to the finished edge. If your seam allowance was ½ inch (12mm) this means you will be stitching around ⅜ inch (1cm) from the seam.

 Mock Flat Felled Seam - Stitch Mock Flat Felled Seam - StitchPin Mock Flat Felled Seam – Stitch

To finish, turn your work to the right side of the fabric and give it a final press to flatten the seam.

 Mock Flat Felled Seam  Mock Flat Felled Seam Pin Mock Flat Felled Seam

Variation 2 – Run and Fell Seams

The biggest difference when you sew a run and fell seam is that the fabric is placed right sides together when you sew the first seam. The folded seam will be underneath and not visible on the right side of the fabric. All you will see on top is a single row of stitching around ⅜ inch (1cm) from the seam.

Step 1 – Sew the Seam

Place your fabric right sides together and stitch the seam. Because we will be folding the seam allowance on one side, it is best for seams that are ⅝ inch (15mm) or wider. Adjust your pattern if necessary.

Run and Fell Seam - Stitch SeamRun and Fell Seam - Stitch SeamPinRun and Fell Seam – Stitch Seam

Step 2 – Trimming One Side

Trim one side of the seam allowance down to ¼ inch (6mm). Use sharp scissors so there is no fraying. If you are using fabric such as linen that frays endlessly, you may want to use some pinking shears instead of regular scissors.

 Run and Fell Seam - Trim Run and Fell Seam - TrimPin Run and Fell Seam – Trim

Step 3 – Press

Press over the wider seam allowance (untrimmed) so it folds over the trimmed side. It will encase it so the raw edges are hidden. Also, press the fabric from the right side so the seam and the folded seam allowance below are all sitting flat and smooth.

 Run and Fell Seam - Press Run and Fell Seam - PressPin Run and Fell Seam – Press

Step 4 – Stitch

Turn the fabric to the right side and stitch around ¼ inch (6mm) from the seam. It is important to catch in the seam allowance underneath. I use my fingers to feel the seam underneath as I sew to keep on track.

 Run and Fell Seam - Stitch Run and Fell Seam - StitchPin Run and Fell Seam – Stitch

BEGINNERS – If you find this hard to keep straight, you can always sew from the wrong side instead. The reason it is better to stitch on the top is that the stitching will just look neater. The top spool stitching always looks better than the bobbin stitching.

When you have finished, press your fabric from both sides. This will meld the stitches to the fabric and create a smooth seam.

Variation 3 – How to Sew a Flat Felled Seam Allowance by Hand

Any of the regular or variations of the flat felled seam can be sewn using hand stitches. It is, however, better used on the mock seam where the seam allowance is on the inside. That way your hand stitches will hold tight and prevent fraying but will not be visible.

For the main seam, the strongest hand stitch is the backstitch. Because the top of the backstitching looks better, plan ahead and stitch on the side that will be visible once the seam is folded and tucked.

When sewing the folded edge, use a whip stitch or blind stitch so the stitching isn`t visible on the outside. All you will see is the tiny pinpricks of stitching which will be invisible if you use a matching thread.

Alternatives to a Flat Felled Seam

While slightly different in the look and construction, topstitching, French seams, and edge stitching can also be used to strengthen seams and add a decorative edge.

More Types of Seams:

TopstitchEdge StitchFrench Seams

top stitchingtop stitchingPinTopstitchedge stitchedge stitchPinEdgestitchfrench seamfrench seamPinFrench Seam

Flat Felled Seam vs Topstitch

Topstitching is mainly decorative and does not always encase the seams like flat-felled seams. Rather than joining pieces of fabric flat, topstitch is often used on the edge of 2 pieces of fabric sewn together and then turned the right way out. It can also be used on pocket edges and may be done in 1 or 2 rows. When done in 2 rows, it looks very similar to a flat felled seam on the outside.

Flat Felled Seam vs French Seam

French seams will encase the edges but there is no stitching visible on the outside. It is also a durable seam and is often used on sheer fabrics and pillowcases. Like the flat fell seam, it is best for straight seams with little or no curve. You can also use a mock French seam for faster results.

Flat Felled Seam vs Edge Stitch

Edgestitch has a decorative row of stitching on the outside like flat-felled seams but has a raw or serged seam underneath. Because you don`t need to hide the raw edges, it can be used on thicker fabrics. Often there will only be one row of stitching instead of 2.

Flat Felled Seam – In Conclusion

Run your fingers along the completed article and see what a smooth finish you have on the inside and a tough edge to the outside.  This is a rugged, but smart seam, and a winner for sports and outdoor wear!

flat felled seamflat felled seamPinHow to Sew a Flat Felled Seam Tutorial

More Types of Seam Articles

Edge StitchTop StitchingStay StitchingSewing CurvesFrench SeamsMock French SeamsHow to Grade SeamsStraight SeamsHong Kong SeamUnderstitchingWelt SeamsSuperimposed SeamsTaped SeamsSlot SeamsDouble Stitched SeamsOpen SeamsClosed SeamsPlain SeamsSerged Seams

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