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.


Published by Robert Joseph

Robert Joseph got his start at the early age of 5. Now, 30 something years later, is completing work on his Master's Degree in Fashion Design. Over the last 20 years Robert has become a highly respected tailor and custom dressmaker. Robert's true passion is highlighting the body's true beauty without covering it up. Robert expresses the body's true sensuality by molding his patterns around the body, incorporating the natural drape of the fabrics he uses. Just a few years ago Robert took up photography. Wanting to express the process of fashion design through photographs. Robert chose men's swim wear, something he had never done before, to chronicle the process. It was during this time that Robert grew fascinated with this genre of apparel. Now living in Los Angeles, Robert creates four collections a year of men's swim wear. The swim wear you see on this site, Robert attests is the highest quality men's swimwear you will find anywhere. These pieces are fully lined, front and back and all seams are enclosed. Robert chooses the prints for his fabrics very carefully, yet impulsively. Robert Joseph will continue to offer superior quality swimwear for men 2011 & 2012 and will be adding Tanks and Shorts very soon!

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