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.
According to my handy-dandy stitch dictionary, this is also called the “open chain stitch” or “Roman chain stitch”. This is a nice, relatively simple, geometric decoration. Because it has a straight edge, you can work it right on top of a machined hem to hide the machine stitches. (I believe in cheating.)
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.
This is a really nice looking edge finish. It’s decorative and fully sealed. It shows up all throughout the ages – sixteenth century ruffs, smocks and chemises of all eras, even on modern blankets (of all things). It’s also a great utility stitch – milliners use it to whip wire down to buckram hat brims.
This is a very basic embroidery technique that will serve you well. It’s sometimes called a french knot or a bullion knot. It’s a nice decorative touch. It’s also the absolute fastest way to tie off a thread when you’re sewing – just make the knot on the inside of the garment instead of the outside, and bury the threads!