In sewing, it’s all in the finishing details, isn’t it? Seam finishes are applied to garment seams to help prevent raveling as well as to make the inside of the final garment look more attractive, and there are a variety of seam finishing techniques out there.
Serging seam edges is a popular technique because it’s fast and easy, but not everybody owns a serger. But I have good news for those without a serger, therethere are other options that do the job equally well.
1. No finish at all
What!!! No finish at all! Yep, this is one of the most common ways to finish a knit fabric as knits don’t generally ravel. Just cut your seam allowance back to approx. 8 mm (3/8″) to avoid bulk, but that’s all.
Knits don’t ravel like woven fabrics but some knit fabrics may run or curl. If your knit fabric does this, not finishing the seams is no option! But there are other ways to have a clean finish on your seams if you don’t have a serger!
Every sewing machine has this stitch, so zigzagging is probably one of the easiest ways to finish a knit seam. The zigzag keeps the knit in place and prevent it from fraying. A very efficient and effective way to finish your seams.
If you used a thin fabric, chances are your fabric will curl. A way to get a nice flat finish, is to zigzag both seam allowances together. This gives a very nice flat finish that keeps the seam allowance into place.
How to do it? Just stitch on the seam allowance, on either side of the seam line, and trim off the excess fabric on the seam allowance up to the stitching. You can stitch anywhere on the seam allowance.
3. Three stitch zigzag
If your knit fabric curls up at the seams, a zigzag stitch might not be the best solution. In addition to the regular zigzag, many machines come with a 3-step zigzag stitch. This is what I call a stitched zigzag: 3 straight stitches from point to point. This stitch keeps the fabric flatter since it is a straight stitch from point to point and that will keep the fabric from bunching up. A three stitch zigzag is a perfect solution if your fabric runs or curls.
A three stitch zigzag can also be applied to both seam allowances together. (See picture on the right.) This gives a clean, sharp finish, especially if there is not a lot of room, due to trimmend seam allowances.
How to do it? The three stitch zigzag is sually done on the edge of the seam allowance. Simply insert the seam allowance into the machine at the 5mm/1/8″ seam allowance mark on your machine. Set the width to 5 or 5,5 and the length at 1,5. The threads will lock in the edges of the fabric, keeping them into place during wear.
These are the most common ways to finish a knit fabric seam if you don’t have a serger around. And although there is no real need to finish the knit fabric seams, sometimes you just want to finish them. Because it looks prettier or because your fabric is thin or curls. In that case, a zigzag stitch or a three stitch zigzag will do the job for you!