How to Sew a Flat Felled Seam

inseam

 Debbie Colgrove

Overview
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Skill Level: Intermediate

A flat felled seam has no visible seam allowance inside or out. Instead, the seam allowance is enclosed within the seam. Flat felled seams are very strong and durable, which is why they're often used on sturdy fabric, such as denim. Commercial sewing machines typically have a system that does this seam in one step. But it can be accomplished at home with a straight-stitch sewing machine, scissors, and an iron. Strong thread is also an important component, as is pressing to get the seam to lie flat. A flat felled seam is an intermediate-level skill, but it won't take much time once you understand the steps.

Tip

If you've never sewn a flat felled seam, grab some scraps of fabric and practice before attempting it on your intended item. Practicing will allow you to understand each step and gain the confidence to make a professional-looking flat felled seam.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Iron and ironing board

Materials

  • Fabric
  • Strong thread

Instructions

  1. Sew the Seam on the Right Side of the Fabric

    To begin sewing a flat felled seam, place the wrong sides of the fabric together. Then, sew the seam on the right side of the fabric. This is unlike a standard seam, which is sewn on the wrong side of the fabric. Every step for a flat felled seam will be seen from the right side.

    Thoroughly press the seam the same way it was sewn to set the stitching on the fabric.  

    Sew the seam to the right side of the item by sewing with the wrong sides of the fabric together.
    Debbie Colgrove
  2. Trim the Back Seam Allowance

    Find the front and back of the item. Trim the back seam allowance in half, cutting neatly and as straight as possible. Sharp scissors are a must, so you have a smooth edge and aren't fighting fraying threads as you create the seam.

    Press the entire seam allowance to the back side. Press it open and then to the back if necessary to get a smoothly ironed seam that faces the back of the item.

    Trimming the back seam allowance in half
    Debbie Colgrove
  3. Enclose the Seam Allowance

    Press the larger seam allowance in half, turning under the raw edge so it just about meets the originally sewn seam. This will cause the wider seam allowance to enclose the trimmed seam allowance.

    Next, press the turned-under seam allowance flat. Use a press cloth if necessary to protect your fabric. But make sure you thoroughly iron the seam allowance, so the fold is well pressed before you sew it in place.

    Press the larger seam allowance in half, enclosing the trimmed seam allowance.
    Debbie Colgrove
  4. Sew Down the Enclosed Seam Allowance

    When you sew the final step, you will want the stitching to be parallel to the original seam line and not to go off the folded edge. This final stitching will enclose the seam allowances, so fraying is not possible and the finished seam is strong.

    Topstitch the pressed-under seam allowance as close to the folded edge as possible. Sewing straight lines and using seam guides are essential to your finished seam looking professional. Changing needle position can also help you have the stitching exactly where you want it on the edge of the fold.

    Stitching the seam allowance down
    Debbie Colgrove