Felled seams are sturdy and utilitarian. We’re mostly familiar with them as the re-inforced seams on our jeans, but felling is a very old technique. It was a handworked finish for seams centuries before sewing machines were invented, and was often seen in traditionally home-made items like shirts and chemises. A seam allowance can be felled after the fact. It’s a good finish for both hand and machine sewn seams, and, properly done, is completely invisible from the outside of the garment.
Sometimes, you have to finish a seam allowance so it won’t fray. (Or, possibly, you’re like me and compulsively finish seams, whether they need it or not.) There are times when you can’t use a french seam, or you are working in an area too tight for a felled seam, and you want something nicer than an overcast edge. This method of finishing a seam allowance by hand will prevent them from fraying, and lightly reinforce the seam.
Sometimes, you just want to finish an edge really really fast – you don’t care if it looks pretty up close. (Like, say, you’re working on a show where everyone seems to wear a veil that the audience can see through, but the characters mysteriously cannot… Not that that ever happens.) The zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine is the poor man’s serger…
You should always do something with your seam allowances so they don’t fray and tangle. Pinking is one of the simplest things you can do to finish a seam.
This is the ultra-thin version of the French Seam. It’s very useful if you’re making fine linen pieces (like coifs), or if you’re working with dolls and cannot divorce yourself from the idea of fully finished seams….
The French Seam is my favorite seam of all time. It’s fully encased and leaves no visible stitching on the right side of the garment. Any time I have to make an unlined garment, you can bet I’m using french seams (or some variant thereof).
The Fake Flat Fell Seam makes a fully finished seam that is identical on both the front and back sides. This is useful for transparent fabrics or applications where both the front and back are visible. So far as I know, it’s not a real seam, but the result of my inability to follow simple directions for a proper flat fell.