Seam Neatening Techniques

A little sewing tip for getting your projects looking a little more polished. Let’s take a look at the seams. The seam is where your fabric pieces are joined together and sewn. Although on the “right side” of your fabric for your project the seam will look tidy, sometimes on the wrong side/inside, that is not the case. No worries… I have a few sewing tips here for you. There are several techniques you can use to clean up the inside. These will make your projects look a little more professionally done and stop fabric fray.

To learn about other basic stitches, you can refer to the previous post on Learning the Basic Sewing Machine Stitches for Beginners. The prior post is a good starting point for sewing tips in learning sewing machine stitches. Once you have learned the basics, we can move on to the seam neatening…


The raw edges (the part of the fabric that has been cut and is now at risk of fraying easily) of the seam can be neatened for a more finished look with several techniques. A few examples are:

Seam finish using pinking shears

PINKED – This method is ideal to use on any fabric to prevent from fraying.  This technique can be done by using pinking shears to trim away a little extra of the raw edge.

Clean Finish

CLEAN FINISH – This is a good finishing option to choose if your machine did not come with the overedge foot. It is a technique typically used to finish the raw edges of cottons and finer fabrics. To do this technique, you will need to turn under/fold in the raw edge of the seam allowance. You can then sew a straight stitch along the edge of the fold.

Zigzag Finish

ZIGZAG – The zigzag stitch is used second in line to the straight stitch. This is a great option to stop edges from fraying. It can also be done on any type of fabric. Depending on our seam, you can adjust the width and length of the stitch. NOTE: An ideal width would be 2.0 with a length of 1.5.

Overedge Finish

OVEREDGE SEWING – Most sewing machines will come with this option. Look in your manual to see if your machine came with the overedge machine foot. If it did, you can attach it, set your stitch option to the overedge stitch and begin sewing along the raw edges of the seam.

SERGER – Most beginners will not have the option of utilizing a serger because they are just getting their sewing machines.  However, this is something to add to your wish list if you are enjoy sewing. You might find it to come in handy!  I do not want to go into too much detail on a serger at this time. I did however want to include the serged edges as an option, and show you the finished edges it produces.

Serger Finish

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Joan Mantini

About Joan Mantini

After several years of being the Facebook page owner at Beginner Sewing, I noticed there was a desperate need to have a single go-to spot for members to be able to find answers to their common questions, get some useful tips & tricks, as well as find reputable places to purchase sewing products online. Taking my role as a trade publication editor by day, and combining it with my knowledge of frequently requested beginner sewing advice, I created An outlet that gives new sewists a free digital magazine geared for entry level sewing as an extra bonus!

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