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Seam

The place where two pieces of fabric are joined by application of a series of stitches or stitch types with a defined geometry to one or several thicknesses of fabric material is defined as Seam. There are different kinds of seam constructions, used depending on whether the seam is a decorative element of the design, the kind of fabric used, or how much stress is placed on the seam. Some of the most commonly used seam types are superimposed seams, lapped seams, bound seams, flat seams, edge finished seams, ornamental seams. There are subdivisions depending on the fabric layers and direction of stitching.

Significance and Use


Selection of correct seam type for a particular assembly is very important as improper selection of stitch type, seam type or thread type can result in failure of the sewn seam and failure of the garment. The most important aspect of a properly constructed sewn seam is strength, elasticity, durability, security and appearance. These characteristics must be balanced with the properties of the material to be joined to form the optimum sewn seam. The selection of the seam type and stitch type should be based upon these considerations. Strength: The seam efficiency of the sewn seam should be so that sewn seam strength is balanced and can withstand the everyday usage of the garment.

Elasticity: Elasticity of sewn seam should be slightly greater than that of the material which it joins. This will enable the material to support its shape of the forces encountered for the intended end use of the sewn item. The elements effecting the elasticity and strength of a sewn seam depends upon fabric type and strength, seam type, stitch type, stitch density (SPI), thread tension, and thread strength and elasticity. Durability: Durability of a sewn seam depends largely upon its strength relative to the elasticity of the seam and the elasticity of the material. For making durable sewn seam, the thread size and stitch density must be carefully chosen to avoid puckering. Security: Security of sewn seam depends chiefly upon the stitch type, SPI, and its susceptibility to become unravelled. The stitch must be well set to the material to prevent snagging that can cause rupture of the thread and unravelling of certain stitch types. Appearance: Appearance of a sewn seam generally is governed by the proper relationship between the size and type of thread, the stitch density, and the texture and weight of the fabric.

Common Types of Seams


Superimposed Seam (SS): The superimposed seam is achieved by two or more separate pieces of together. This is the one of the most common method of seaming. The most basic superimposed seam is made when one ply of fabric is stacked upon another with thread stitching through all plies of fabric. Variations are plain seam, French seams and Double machine seam. Lapped Seam (LS): Lapped seam is made with two or more pieces of fabric overlapping each other. LS commonly, but not always, have one ply of fabric fold under itself for a finished edge. Lapped seams are common when sewing side seams on jeans and dress shirts. This class of seaming has the largest number of variations. Bound Seams (BS): Bound seam is made to finish and edge of a garment. A common example of this would be a neckline of a Crew T. A bound seam is one piece of fabric encompassing the raw edge of another piece of fabric. There are many variations of a bound seam.

Flat Seam (FS): A flat seam is constructed by having two pieces of fabric meet precisely at their edges. A cover stitch is used to sew the two pieces of fabric together. This stitch has multiple needles and creates a stitch perpendicular to the seam line. This creates a flat seam. Plain seam is a flat seam. Edge Finished Seams (EF): This seam is used to prevent the edges of the fabric from rolling or curling. Primarily used for knit fabrics and is suitable for straight or curved seams and edges. Ornamental Seam (OS): this seam is made using machines with zigzag capability. It is used on a plain seam on woven or knit fabric. The zigzag stitch length (coverage) must be adjusted to accommodate and prevent fabric from ravelling. The more the fabric ravels, the closer together the stitches need to be (tighter or shorter stitch length).

Seam - best practices

Smooth and even in appearance on the inside and outside. (Properly adjust machine tension, stitch length, and presser foot pressure to suit the fabric and thread. Fabric should not pucker)

Factors affecting appearance of Seam


The technique and skill of the sewing machine operators also govern the appearance of sewn seams. Some of the factors that will adversely affect the appearance of a seam.
Stitch Defects Seam Appearance Defect

Even in width through out Pressed open or closed according to the type of seam and how it is used in the construction process

Loose Stitches Poorly formed stitches Crowded stitches Tight stitches Crooked stitches Skipped stitches

Puckers Twists Plaits Undulations Run-off (raised seams) Raw edges exposed (felled seams)

When stitched with thread, the thread should be appropriate to the fabric type and fibre content. Thread colour should match or slightly darkest.

Neat and smooth in appearance, without added bulk.

Free from ravelling, stretching, rolling and curling. Should not be visible from right side of garment.

What is stitch?

One unit of confirmation of thread resulting from repeatedly passing a strand or strands or loops of thread into or through a material is called a stitch.

Stitch Items:

Intra-looping is passing of a loop of thread through another loop formed by the same thread, example stitch type 101.

Interloping is passing of a loop of thread through another loop formed by a different thread, example stitch type 401.

Interlacing is passing of a thread over or around another thread or loop of another thread, example stitch type 301.

Stitch types can be formed by:

Without a material

Inside material Through material On material

Stitch types of designation


Textile stitch types-classification and terminology, stitches are catalogued into six classes (as per BS3870/ASTM D-6193/ISO 4915:1991). The international and standardization uses the identical numbering.

Stitch quality
Stitch quality is measured with stitch size (stitch length, width, and depth) tension, sequence, elongation, elasticity, resilience, fabric distortion, yarn severance, abrasive strength.

Class 100:
is chain stitch type, is formed with one or more needle threads introduced from one side of the material only.

chain stitch is elastic and thicker than lockstitch and can easily be ravelled; particular care is required to prevent runback from the last stitch. Used for temporary stitching or for Blind stitching.

Class 200:
is a hand stitch type, is formed by single thread passed from one side of the material to the other in successive needle penetrations.

a slow process and need huge manpower to finish bulk order. Used for handwork.

Class 300:
is a lock stitch type, is formed by a needle thread or threads, introduced from one side of the material, interlacing with an under thread

supplied from a bobbin on the other side.

low bulk and thin, good strength and abrasion resistance Poor elasticity, non ravel limited sewing length, need to replace bobbin thread. for seams requiring stretch.

Class 400:
is multi thread chain stitch type, is formed with two/more groups of threads having general characteristic of interlacing interloping of the loops of the two groups.

non ravel, strong, good elasticity, less likely to cause seam pucker due to structural jamming good seam stretch does not need to wind bobbin lower resistance to runback and have increased bulk under the seam

Stitch classes
Stitch classes are designated and identified by the first digit of a 3 digit numeral system. Type of stitch within each class are designated and identified by 2nd and 3rd digit.

Class 500:
is over lock over edge stitch type, is formed with one or more needles and/or loopier threads with at least one thread passing round the edge of the material being sewn.

Excellent stretchable good recovery Seam or edge neatening suitable for many types of fabric subject to fraying or slippage.

Class 600:
is formed with two or more groups of threads, has for a general characteristic that two groups of thread cover surfaces of the material.

High elasticity, seam neatening and Flat seam stitch, Bulk, Fast machine speed No need of Bobbin Greater thread consumption Covering stitches for decorative purpose, Can be used to join two raw edges, suitable for knitted garments.

Combination of stitch types:


is formed when two or more rows of stitches of different classes are formed simultaneously in one separation.

These are denoted by using two individual stitch type designations, joined with a dot for example 401.504 Save time, labour, cost. more investment required