Sewing Plain Seams

A seam is two or more pieces of fabric stitched together. The specified distance from the stitching to the edge of the fabric is called seam allowance. These plain seam exercises are designed for you to practice sewing the most common seam allowance widths; 1/4”, 1/2”, 3/4” and 1”. You will use the throat plate guides on your machine. If you do not have guides on your machine, you may use a magnetic guide or tape by placing them at the 1/4″, 1/2″, 3/4″ & 1″ seam widths from the needle.

To begin, make sure you identify/mark the face side of the fabric. If you are using a printed fabric, the print side will be the face side.

Plain seam fabric marked for face side

Then you will match face sides to face sides together aligning the cut edges.


You can pin the two pieces together if you like. There are two ways to correctly pin.

On way is to pin the two pieces together so the pins are aligned perpendicular to the seam, with the head of the pin to out side of the fabric. This makes it easy to pull the pin out of the fabric just before you sew that area. Do not sew over pins.

Another way to pin is with the pins going parallel to the edge of the seam allowance, with the head of the pin towards your body. This makes it easy to pull the pins out of the fabric as you sew, and ensure that you do not sew over the pin.

However, when you get the hang of sewing, try to sew with as few pins as possible. In the exercise I will not use pins.

Once you are satisfied with how you have the fabric matched, it’s time to move over to the machine. Lift the presser foot up and slide the fabric under the foot, about 1/4″ past the needle.

Align the seam allowance edge to the correct line on the face plate (1/4″, 1/2″, 3/4″ or 1″). Use the face plate line as a guide. Remember, the correct seam allowance amount is the line before the number on the face plate.

To begin sewing, start with putting the needle down into the fabric (sometimes you will hear people say, “bury the needle”.) This also ensures that you will get the take up thread from the bobbin and you won’t loose the thread in the needle when you sew.

Sew one stitch forward, then back stitch to the edge of the fabric, release the reverse lever and sew the seam.

1/4″ seam allowance

1/2″ seam allowance

3/4″ seam allowance

1″ seam allowance

After sewing the seam, press the seam flat. This will set the stitches and create a nice flat seam.

Always mark/identify the sample and place in your samples notebook.


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