Mending Seams: What You Need To Know

Mending seams

A hole in a seam can show up out of nowhere. But don’t worry, you can handle it!

If you can access the seam from the inside, a hole can be easily sewn up with a machine.

If you can’t access it, use a hidden handstitch, called a ladder stitch, from the right side of the garment.

Ladder stitch: a versatile invisible stitch often used to sew the opening of a cushion or even attach a zipper. Although the stitch is hidden, you should use a thread that matches your fabric exactly.

Stressed Seam

Once a seam starts to stress, it will likely rip or tear fairly soon, so it’s best to mend it right away.

Stressed seams occurs where fabric is pulled, usually in curved areas of a garment or where a lot of movement happens, including armholes, waistlines, and underseams.

To properly fix a stressed seam, it is best to take out the existing seam and redo it.

If your stressed seam is on a curve, once you’ve repaired the seam, clip into the seam allowance ¼” (6mm) all the way around the curve to allow the fabric to move more freely.

Wavy or Bunched Seam

Waving or bunching can happen when the tension is unbalanced between the two threads that make up a seam. Side seams are especially prone to this, and the problem is most common in knit fabrics because they stretch, tugging seam stitches in different directions.

If the seam has minimal waving or bunching, you can simply pull across the thread to straighten it.

However, if the waving or bunching is more substantial, you’ll have to take out the troublesome seam and redo it.

When working with slippery fabrics, you may want to pin your fabric first then baste before sewing (basting stitch is a long running stitch). The basting will help keep the fabric layers from shifting as you sew.

Tear at Slit

A slit in a garment is not only functional, allowing for movement, but it also adds a fun, flirty detail to your outfit. However, with stress, the stitching at the top of a slit can become weakened or even tear. When this happens, the only thing you can do is sew up the tear. You can also reinforce it to prevent the tear from happening again soon.

Preventing a tear can be an easier process than fixing one. Apply fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric at the lowest point of the seam above the slit. This will reinforce the stitching and will save you the trouble of mending a tear later on.

Stitching 45-degree angle lines at the end of the seam just above the slit helps prevent future tears by adding reinforcement through an intersecting seam.

Twisted Side Seam

We’ve all had “that shirt” where, over time, the side seam just kept twisting around to the front. Those very common twisted side seams happen because of the way the garment was cut when it was made.

Fabric naturally wants to drape straight up and down, so if it isn’t prepared in the proper way before cutting, or if the pattern pieces aren’t aligned accurately, the fabric will shift with multiple washings, and the side seams will twist.

To fix a twisted side seam, you remove the stitches, trim the excess fabric, and even out the seam.

To prevent twisted seams when sewing a garment from scratch, make sure the fabric is always pre-treated and on-grain, and make sure your pattern-piece grain line is exactly parallel to the fabric’s selvedge (the lengthwise grain). Use a ruler to check before pinning the pattern pieces in place.

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