Underlining and Raw Seams – A Solution

I’ve discovered that when underlining with silk organza, any raw seams that aren’t flat catch stitched down can look like the above – fraying and unfinished. This is the centre back seam of the skirt section of my dress, extending down below the zip.

I really didn’t want to hem my dress, knowing that this unravelling silk organza was only a peek away. Even though a full lining is being added to my dress, I’d still know this mess was here. It seemed such a shame, after all the effort I’d made. Plus, I’ll be honest, I dreaded anyone turning my dress hem over to see raw, fraying silk organza.

Now that more people know I make my own clothes, I’ve had the odd occasion when a person forgets to ask permission before turning over my hems, or poking fingers down my necklines. I don’t mind overly. I know it’s because curiosity has got the better of someone and that they don’t mean to be rude. But, still. I like to be prepared!

Out came my reference books. Nothing! So, out came the Internet. Result! On my first search, a wonderful piece from Pattern Review came up, posted by Julie B with great detail shots. An answer to my dilemma! Julie suggests adding extra width to your organza seam allowances so that you can turn them over the fashion fabric seam and seal with a line of sewing – a bit like a Hong Kong finish. Keeping up? No? Go and read her post.

I was too far into my make to have added extra allowance to the silk organza cutting, but I did have a generous seam allowance. So I set to with my scissors, pins and thread…

I trimmed my fashion fabric to a narrower seam allowance than the silk organza underlining, and did my best to trim the frays from the organza:

I pressed the silk organza over and over again, and pinned along the fashion fabric seam. The good news with silk organza is that it holds a pressed fold really well.

Then I sewed! If you’re doing this, please be careful to keep your seam well away from the skirt itself. You don’t want to sew through your skirt. (Yes, that is the voice of experience talking. Heed it!)

Finished Seam

It’s not the neatest sewing I’ve ever done, but doesn’t that look better? I’m certain it will add to the longevity of the make, also.

Phew! That was me really playing it by ear. I know many more experienced Sewists than I are out there. Any other hints and tips? What do you normally do with underlined seams?

Thank you, Julie, whoever you are! Thank goodness for the Internet – again.

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27 Responses to Underlining and Raw Seams – A Solution

  1. ooobop! says:

    That’s a great piece of advice. Thanks Karen. I haven’t underlined anything to date but I’m sure it will come up in the near future 🙂

  2. Clare S says:

    As soon as I saw the title of your post, I thought of this tutorial I found a while ago: http://www.fromthesehands.net/journal/2010/10/5/underlining-and-seam-finish-in-one.html

    I’ve not tried it, but it looks very neat and is a very clever idea – it’s essentially doing what you’ve done here, but BEFORE sewing and without any visible stitching …

    I love bound seams and neat finishes like that – yours look lovely. Good thinking!

  3. Kerry says:

    I’ve used this technique too, it’s clever isn’t it? Scruffy Badger had posted a link to the tutorial and I used it for my cape.

  4. Jane says:

    Yes, I was thinking of Scruffy Badger’s link too, here it is: http://scruffybadgertime.co.uk/2011/12/nl6000-fest-ode-to-underlining/
    The way you’ve described is definitely the neatest and gives the most professional finish, your dress is going to be awesome.

    I just glanced down at the underlined skirt I happen to be wearing as I type this and noticed that I’ve overlocked the fashion fabric and underlining seam allowances together. I think I must have trimmed them so they were the same width. It’s not as tailored looking as the method above, but it still looks good and keeps the pesky frayed edges at bay. x

  5. Great advice, it’s not bookmarked for future x

  6. Nothy Lane says:

    This is great and timely advice for me. I’m underlining a dress this week and I think the lining fabric will fray easily. I was thinking of french seams but I think I will do the Hong Kong seams now that you’ve made them look so easy (and so good).

  7. Nice. I trim the fashion fabric and use a narrow hem foot to seal it and the underlining in. I do all my seams this way – looks what you’ve got but with a quarter of the effort XD and more regularity throughout.
    I’d really recommend you get a narrow hemmer if you’re going to br doing more of this, it sounds like a massive time/ ATP hole otherwise…=S

  8. Molly says:

    In Susan Khalje’s Couture Dress class on Etsy she shockingly reveals the insides of some of her couture garments – fashion fabric/organza seam allowances are all catch-stitched down and then left -raw! She hides them with the lining. Crafty. I like your method here, reduces bulk in your seams too when you don’t add bias tape into the mix.

  9. poppykettle says:

    Looks great to me! Love the idea 🙂

  10. it looks beautiful, you are now entering the realm of haute couture. It makes you think just how much harder it was all before the internet. I can’t wait to see the finished article 🙂

  11. Carolyn says:

    I’ve no advice to offer but I’m really enjoying your journey on this dress. Even for an experienced sewist, this is a wonderful experience because I’m remembering some techniques I haven’t used in a minute and getting to experience your joy in making this new dress.

  12. gingermakes says:

    Super cool! What a nice, clean finish!

  13. Anne W says:

    I usually use a french seam and do them separately, however, if the fabric was fine enough to treat as one, I’d french seam them together.

  14. Alexandra says:

    Hi Karen
    The finish you have done looks great, my only comment would be that the extra lines of machine stitching can give a firmness to the seam that can interfer with the drape and also the thicker seam may show through on the outside. If you follow the method of attaching your lining hem to your fashion fabric hem then all your seams are incased and never show, this is how it would be done in a couture garment to allow for best drape and minimal seam thickness. X

    • Thank you for this, Alexandra – extremely useful! Yes, of course – why didn’t I think about attaching the lining hem? I very much take your point about thicker seams.

  15. LinB says:

    Excellent save!

  16. dressesandme says:

    That’s how you do it?! I’m defs going to use this technique!!

  17. Julie B says:

    Hi. Julie B here 🙂 Glad you found my info. The post listed in one of the earliest comments is from my blog. Here’s the link again http://www.fromthesehands.net/journal/2010/10/5/underlining-and-seam-finish-in-one.html with instructions and pictures to go along with my patternreview instructions. I use this technique all of the time and it’s a good one. It also shows you the easiest way to cut the underlining pieces.

  18. Pingback: Blue Dress II | dressesandme

  19. ZoSews says:

    Nice save! Looks really great 🙂

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