Different Types of Seams in Garments - A Reference Guide

In the Garment Construction class, I first learned about the different types of garment seams. Application of the different seams was further practiced when I was involved in garment sampling and product analysis for preparing the operation bulletin.

In garment manufacturing, whether you work as a merchandiser or an industrial engineer or a quality person, or a production supervisor, you should know and must have a clear knowledge of different types of garment seams, and their construction details.

In this post, I will show you different types of garment seams and their use in various apparel products. To learn seams types, take one of your apparel items (t-shirts, trousers, or shirts) and study all the seam lines (stitching line), you will find there how the fabric pattern edges are folded for stitching to layers together and joining components. 

The common seams used in joining garment parts include
  • Superimposed seam
  • Lapped seam
  • French seam
  • Flat and Felled seam
  • Bound seam

Seam Class 1: Superimposed seam

This is the most common construction of seam on garments. The simplest seam type within the class is formed by superimposing the edge of one piece of material on another. A variety of stitch types can be used on this type of seam, both for joining the fabrics and for neatening the edges or for achieving both simultaneously.

Application: Where simply need to join two or more plies of material. For example, run stitch collars and run-stitch cuffs of a shirt.

French seam: French seam is another version of the superimposed seam. The French seam is completed in two stages as shown in the following diagram.

Seam class 2: Lapped Seam

The lapped seam is formed by lapping two pieces of material  Lapped seams are not common in clothing because it causes problems with raw edges.

Doubled lapped seam (Flat and Felled seam): These types of seams are considered one of the strongest seam. Used in Jean's side seam and in men's shirts' side seam operation. A special machine (feed off the arm) is used for forming this double lapped seam in a single operation.  

Seam class 3: Bound Seam

In this class, the bound seam consists of an edge of material bound by another, with the possibility of other components inserted into the binding.

Application: To finish the edge of a garment. Example: Neck edge finish of T-shirt, edge finish of men’s vests and briefs. For neck piping bound seam is used. A flatlock sewing machine is used for piping.

Seam Class 4: Flat seam

In this class, seams are referred to as flat seams because the fabric edges do not overlap. They may be butted together without a gap and joined across by a stitch that has two needles sewing into each fabric and covering threads passing back and forth between these needles on both sides of the fabric. This seam is used to avoid thickness/bulkiness on the seam line.

Application: Knitted underwear, joining waistband elastic.

You can further read and download PDF files from other sources.

Prasanta Sarkar

Prasanta Sarkar is a textile engineer and a postgraduate in fashion technology from NIFT, New Delhi, India. He has authored 6 books in the field of garment manufacturing technology, garment business setup, and industrial engineering. He loves writing how-to guide articles in the fashion industry niche. He has been working in the apparel manufacturing industry since 2006. He has visited garment factories in many countries and implemented process improvement projects in numerous garment units in different continents including Asia, Europe, and South Africa. He is the founder and editor of the Online Clothing Study Blog.

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