Anatomy of a Seam

Anatomy of a Seam

Anatomy of a Seam

What are the Parts of a Seam?


Belu Chi

As we discussed in a previous article, a seam is the result of joining two pieces of fabric by a line of stitches. Every day, in the textile industry, a wide variety of seams are used to make the clothes that we see on the streets, and those that we have in our own closets.

The most well known are French Seam, Welt Seam, Felled Seam, Open Seam, Bound Seam, etc… and there are more! (see book 101 Sewing Seams).


Anatomy of a Seam

In this new article, we’ll analyze each component of a seam… you’ll be surprised by the many parts that it is made of.


Parts of a Seam

Every sewing seam is made up of various components:

  • Structure: the way in which the fabrics


Anatomy of a Seam


  • Seam Allowance (SA): the border around a piece of fabric (or pattern) that protects the stitches from pulling away from the seam.


Anatomy of a Seam


  • Fabric Edge: the border of the fabric piece.


Anatomy of a Seam

  • Topstitch: a row of stitch that shows on the outside of the garment. Some types of topstitches are: Edge Stitch, Basic Topstitch, Double Topstitch.




  • Stitch: a loop of thread that goes through the fabric, it is made with a needle.
    The way the thread loop is made, will define the type of stitching. The most common stitches are: Lock Stitch, Chain Stitch, Overlock Stitch, and Cover Stitch.



  • Stitching Line: a line of thread made by continuous series of stitches.



  • Seam Line: the edge of union between two fabrics.





 Thread: the most necessary trimming for a seam, and the most forgotten.

  • In addition to its resistance, there are other attributes that are important to consider: colour (matching, coordinate, contrast), finish (matte, shiny), and thickness (no. 50, 80, 100, 120, etc).





Band: a folded strip of fabric that many times is cut on the bias. It includes bias binding and folded tapes.





  • Tape: a strip made of yarn that most of the times is knitted. It includes: ribbons, grosgrain tape, satin tapes, laces, and elastic lingerie.


Anatomy of a Seam


Corded Piping (or Piping): a piece of cord wrapped by a strip of fabric.

Anatomy of a Seam




Anatomy of a Seam

Length: the total distance made by a stitching line.

Width: the space between the seam heading and the topstitch (or the edge of the seams allowance, if the seam does not have topstitch).

Depth: the thickness (or flatness) of a seam, depending on the structure and the fabric quality.




 Anatomy of a Seam

Right Side (RS): same as fabrics, the «good» face of the seam is the side that is visible from the outside of the garment. Topstitches are located on this side of the seam.

Wrong Side (WS): from the inner side of the seam we can see how it’s finished: unpolished, serged, folded, faced, etc. (see Seams Finishes).

When seams are well polished on the wrong side, they can be used as «exposed seams«, which means the wrong side is used as the right side.



Properties and Characteristics

 F16The properties and features of seams are closely related to the structure, fabric, and stitch/topstitch used to make the seam.

The combination of these 3 elements will directly affect factors such as:

                • resistance
                • versatility
                • elasticity
                • thickness
                • durability
                • high-end (finishing)
                • cost




Taking these factors into account will help you to know which is the most appropriate seam for each part of your garment or product (see Seams Properties)

Being aware of the elements that make up a seam and all their possibilities allows you to use this unexplored resource as a creative tool when designing.


Did you like this article?

Find more info about seams at

If you have any comments or questions, please do not hesitate con contact me at




Belu Chi

Technical Designer at ABC Seams®






ABC Seams



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