A seam joins two or more pieces of fabric. The seam may be straight, flared, or shaped. The seam might be enclosed or exposed.

Enclosed Seam

Enclosed seams are found on reversible garments, lined garments, collars, cuffs, facings, lapels, and waist bands. Such seams require trimming or layering to remove bulk, clipping if the seam is concave, notching if the seam is convex, and possibly understitching to hold the seam to the under side.

Exposed Seam

This seam is exposed on the right or wrong side of the garment. Many fabrics require a seam finish to prevent raveling of the seam allowances.

Crossed Seam

A crossed seam occurs when two seamed pieces are joined with another sewing line. Crossing seams occur at waistlines, shoulders, and underarm areas when attaching facings or sleeves. The first seam requires trimming, finishing, and pressing before the second seam is sewn. The crossed seams should match perfectly.

Eased Seams

Eased seams are found in set-in sleeves, shoulder seams, and waistlines of skirts and slacks. One part of the garment is slightly longer and must be carefully pinned to ensure even distribution of excess fabric to evenly fit the smaller piece. No pleats or gathers should show.


Topstitched seams are usually decorative, but sometimes they are done to flatten seams in fabrics which do not press flat. A line of topstitching will hold the seam allowance or fabric edge flat eliminating excess bulk.
Standards for Evaluating Seams

  1. Seams should be even in width.
  2. Seams should be stitched with the correct stitch length.
  3. Seams should be smooth and flat.
  4. Seams should be finished according to seam type, fabric, and projected garment care.

Gathered Seam

Fullness may be incorporated through gathered seams. A line of basting is sewn on the fabric edge. The bobbin thread is pulled allowing the fabric to gather. The gathers are evenly distributed, then permanently sewn.

Standards for Evaluating Gathered Seams

  1. All major construction points are matched.
  2. Fullness is evenly distributed.
  3. Gathers are perpendicular to the seam line.