A better way to sew linings and facings

dominant_seams_erinOn Friday I mentioned that sewing certain seams annoys me. I never wrote about it because I’m too picky but based on a vote (2 for, none opposed, that’s democracy for you), we’ll discuss it. Note: this entry has a lot of photos so be patient if it loads slower than usual.

Erin Whitney calls these dominant seams. At right is a sketch I borrowed from her site (larger view) illustrating the concept.

She says dominant seams through the inseam and side seam are good for enhanced range of motion and that dominant seams through the crotch and armhole are better for tailored garments. She’s likely right about both. I don’t think it matters in sportswear and as such, I’m likely to favor inseam and side seam dominance because it’s less costly. My pet peeve is poor design of seam dominance with facings or sleeveless tops with full linings. I don’t like how hardly anyone does it. For the record, you aren’t wrong if you do it differently than I do. The example I’ll use here is a sleeveless top with a full lining but it could just as easily be a facing. Actually, the effect is worse at the side seam with a facing because it’s too short to be anchored and it can flip up if it’s not tacked.

Note: In all views, side A is the left side of the garment and side B is on the right. I will sew side A the way I don’t like. Side B is sewn the way I prefer to do it.

Below, the lining and shell of side A are joined and sewn edge to edge. By the way, the front is a fold piece, it was too large to put the whole thing here. The back takes a zipper so just ignore that for the purposes of this exercise.


Below, side B is shown. It is critical to note the lining and shell are not joined edge to edge.


Below is the full view. The ends of stitch lines are circled.


Below, I’ve joined side A at the shoulder. It can be finished in one pass. The last seam sewn is dominant meaning the shoulder of side A is dominant. On the right, the shoulder seam of B is joined. Side B is a two step process. Once the shoulder is sewn, you have to go back and finish sewing off the neckline and armhole (not shown).


Below is a finished view of what these look like now that the garment has been turned.


For the side seams (below) it’s lather, rinse and repeat.


Again, side B is an additional step to finish it off.


Below I’ve shown the side seams side by side.


At this point I’ve pressed the sample and am now comparing the finished look of the shoulder line. Guess which I like better? I swear I didn’t create that bump on the left; that’s the shoulder seam rolling and taking over the show.


Below is a side by side comparison of the armholes. Other than that the results speak for themselves, side A is less forgiving if you fail to match the armhole and necklines of the front and back when you join them at the shoulder -easy enough to do since sewing that little tube is a pain in the patootie. Since the seam doesn’t lie flat (unless you bang it), the edge flips up and you can see the mismatch (as mine is). On side B, you have to deliberately turn the edge up or keen it from the side view to attempt to discern the mismatch -if there is one and it’s less likely there will be because this is a lot easier to sew than side A’s shoulder tube.


Anyway, that’s the lesson for today. In summary, I would amend Erin’s article to say I prefer the finish of side B for all outside edges in better goods. I haven’t quantified the cost of the two steps as opposed to one so this may be a luxury for some of you depending on your price points. I would think a bridge or designer line should be sewn like side B but that’s just my opinion.

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