Thursday Tutorial – Flat Felled Seam

So here begins my Thursday sewing tutorials. Each week (on a Thursday suprisingly) I will try and explain a technique that you may have seen written in a pattern / book, on Great British Sewing Bee, or you have seen on a bag or in your clothes. A technique you want simplified and demonstrated.

The first one I thought of doing was flat felled seams. When I learned how to do these I was really excited. I know sounds sad doesn’t it? But I had often looked at the side of my jeans and thought so how do they do that then? I couldn’t work out where the rest of the fabric was, no raw edges and yet no lining. It is also a seam used in the sleeves of mens’ shirts. It is generally used for heavy duty fabrics and I think the benefits of it are:

  • hardwearing
  • all raw edges are hidden ( I like anything that means I don’t have to thread the overlocker to be honest)
  • decorative – especially so in bag making, in fact with the correct handles a bag can be made reversible with flat felled seams.

If you are up cycling an old pair of jeans into a bag for example it would be aesthetically pleasing to use a flat felled seam instead of the standard open seam as it would fit in with the denim feel of the finished product. As with a lot of things, flat felled seams look tricky but are in fact reasonably simple.

Top tip – with your first attempt use a sturdy fabric home decor weight and a 2cm seam allowance. The flat felled seam should not be used on a thin fabric such as chiffon, try it and you will see why. In these case a French seam should be used which I will be covering next week.

Things you will need

1. two pieces of fabric – see above for weight

2. sewing machine

3. ironing  board

4. scissors, pins, threads etc.


1. As with an open seam sew the two pieces of fabric together using a 2cm seam allowance for ease (see above). When first trying this method, place the fabric right sides together but at the end I will show you how sewing wrong sides together can produce a far more decorative finish but it does require neat sewing skills.

2 cm open seam

2. Iron open the seam

3. Cut the top layer of the seam down to approx. 0.5cms – making sure you are only cutting the top piece of fabric. (the ironing helps as you have already separated the fabric)

Cut top seam

4. Iron the larger bottom seam over the top of the just cut seam so that the raw edge of the fold meets the stitching. Be careful of your fingers here.

Folded over up to stitch line


5. Fold the seam over once more and iron.

It also helps to turn over and iron the reverse side to ensure seam is not caught or folded.

6. Top stitch along the folded over edge so you have two lines of stitching.

7. Hey presto you have a flat felled seam. How hard was that?

Ok I know it is quite fiddly but believe me practise does make perfect and it really is a versatile seam.

If you look at your jeans, generally you will see two lines of orange stitching down the side of the leg and yet your two lines of stitching are underneath. By stitching the initial open seam with wrong sides together at stage 1, the end result will be the two rows of stitching on the outside. However this does call for precise ironing, cutting and stitching so maybe not on your first go.

Let me know how you get on with this tutorial and please put in requests for future ones.


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