Sewing Techniques

Flat Felled and Lapped Seams

A flat-fell seam has the seam allowance tucked under and sewn down with a second row of stitching. It’s useful for reversible garments, sportswear, menswear or where added strength is required.

How to create a flat-fell seam

1. Place the wrong sides of the fabric together and sew 15 mm (5/8”) from the edge.

2. Press the seam allowances to one side and trim the under seam allowance to 3 mm(1/8”).

3. Press the edge of the upper seam allowance under by 6 mm (1/4”) and edge-stitch along the fold through all layers to finish.


  • This strong seam is suitable for jeans, sportswear, menswear and children’s clothes where seams come under pressure. It’s ideal for reversible garments as it looks good from both sides.
  • This type of seam doesn’t work well on really thick fabrics as seams can become overly bulky.
  • Choose a needle suitable for the type of fabric you are using and use a straight stitch. Lengthen the stitch for thicker fabrics and shorten it for very fine fabrics.
  • Use the iron to control the fabric whilst making the seam and to flatten it when completed. It may be necessary to use a pressing cloth depending on the fabric.

Lapped seam

Lapped seams are ideal for fabrics that don’t fray like suede and leather and suitable for yokes and small areas in woven and knitted fabrics.

How to create a lapped seam

1. For leather and suede (and other non fraying fabrics), trim away the seam allowance on the upper piece. For woven and knitted fabrics, fold along the seam line on the upper piece.

2. Lap the trimmed or folded edge onto the seam line of the other piece of fabric. Hold the layers together with pins and baste (or in the case of leather use a fusible tape or glue).

3. If required, add a second row of stitching by edge stitching the fabric together and top stitch 6 mm (1/4”) away.


  • Use this sort of seam for waistcoats, shirt yokes and children’s clothes.
  • For leather and suede use a leather needle, a slightly longer stitch and a polyester thread. Sew with a roller or walking foot that won’t stick to the fabric whilst sewing.
  • Press leather and suede with a dry iron and use brown wrapping paper as a pressing cloth. For most dress fabrics, use steam iron but remember to protect with a pressing cloth.

For further information

This information has been taken from The Sewing Stitch Bible by Lorna Knight (ISBN 9781844482863). This book contains a comprehensive guide to the huge range of stitches used in all types of sewing from dressmaking, soft furnishings and tailoring through to decorative sewing and basic repairs. Clearly laid out in a handy spiral bound format and illustrated throughout with close up colour photos, it opens with a general introduction to sewing tools and equipment. This invaluable guide will prove useful to sewers of all levels of expertise and is sure to be referred to over and again. ‘The Sewing Stitch Bible’ is available in hardback for £14.99 from all good bookshops or contact Search Press on tel: 01892 510850.

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