0

Your Cart is Empty

Stitches and Seams

by August 01, 2022 4 min read

Stitches and Seams

This episode is based off of the content discussed on Episode 49. You can listen to our entire discussion here or wherever you get podcasts. 

We’ve broken down 10 stitches and seams by frequency of use and put them in order of most frequently used to least used. Knowing all your options for stitches and seams is important because they all build on each other.

But first, let's identify the difference between a stitch and a seam. 


Stitch: a single turn or loop of thread, or yarn. Stitches is the fundamental elements of sewing.

Seam: joining of two or more layers of fabric, held together with stitches

Most Frequently Used

Straight Stitch

Definition: The basis of everything you do. Stitching in a straight line.

Notes:Should be adjusted by thread tension and stitch length. Stitches should be flat, but tight against the fabric. Approximately 8 stitches per inch is average. 

Example: If you watch our fanny pack kit tutorial, the stitches on that video are all straight stitches

Technical Difficulty:Beginner

Strength: N/A  

Waterproofness:No benefits

Seam allowance requirements: ⅛” -  > 

Raw edge:Exposed  

Applications: Anything but stretch fabrics 

Stitches & Seams GIFS by Kyle Baker

Simple Seam

Definition: When you join two pieces of fabric together with a straight stitch. When stitching Woven fabrics like HyperD 300, the woven qualities of the fabric will heal or cover up the stitch hole, unlike laminate fabrics. Laminate fabrics such as non-woven fabrics like Dyneema Composite Fabric, will not self-heal after it is stitched therefore you want to use a longer stitch length to have a lower number of stitches per inch, approximately 4-8. 

Technical Difficulty:Beginner

Strength: Mediocre  

Waterproofness:No benefits

Seam allowance requirements: ⅛” - ½”

Raw edge:Exposed  

Applications: Any simple application

Basting Stitch

Definition: A straight stitch that is used to conjoin two layers of fabric to make a future stitch or seam easier to perform 

Notes: Make sure to use a longer stitch length. This is not a structural stitch at all so adding more stitches is just using additional thread and also could weaken the fabric. 

Applications: We often use a basting stitch when sewing the ridgeline of a tarp. Before we bind the two tarp panels together, we would run a basting stitch to make sure the binding encapsulated both panels. 

Technical Difficulty:Beginner

Strength:No additional strength

Waterproofness:No benefits

Seam allowance requirements: ⅛” - ½”

Raw edge:Exposed  

Applications: Tarp ridgeline 

Top Stitch

Definition: A straight stitch that is run on top of a seam to provide strength and act as a polished finishing technique.

Notes: Gives definition to the shape. It also adds another level of secondary strength.

Technical Difficulty:Beginner

Strength:Some additional strength

Waterproofness:No benefits

Seam allowance requirements: ⅛” - ½”

Raw edge:Exposed (harder to bind, easier to tape)

Applications: Backpack panels, Zipper pull tabs, hat

Often Used

Zig Zag Stitch

Definition: A stitch that is run by the needle going side to side while the fabric is fed through.  Used to allow stretch in the application.

Notes: Adjust the tension and length to account for the size of the stitch

Technical Difficulty:Beginner

Strength:No added strength

Waterproofness:No benefits

Seam allowance requirements: Standard

Raw edge:N/A

Applications: UL Venom™ Stretch Mesh, Reflective Mesh, faux-bartacks

Rolled Hem

Definition: Laying the fabrics face to face, folding the fabrics together twice, then stitching those folds down with a straight stitch

Technical Difficulty: Amateur, can be a challenge depending on the fabric 

Strength: Stronger than the straight stitch, less strong than the Hybrid, French, and Flat-Felled. 

Waterproofness: Enhanced 

Seam allowance requirements: 1” +

Raw Edge:Hidden

Applications:Drawstring, channel, hammocks, etc.

French/Felled Hybrid 

Definition: Start by placing the fabrics wrong side to wrong side. You are going to run a basting stitch ⅛” to ¼” from the edge. Then you’ll flip your project out so you’re looking at the wrong side. Fold, the fabric in half. Run a straight stitch over the seam allowance that you just created. Ensuring to encapsulate the raw edge. Finally, run a stitch securing the flap that was created by the second stitch.

Notes:This can be difficult if you're working with a cylindrical project. If you can't run the final stitch, see the French Seam. 

Technical Difficulty:  Amateur

Strength: Strongest

Waterproofness:Enhanced

Seam allowance requirements:1/2"-2"

Raw Edge:Hidden

Applications: Bags, Packs, etc. 

Occasionally Used

Flat Felled Seam

Definition: Laying the fabrics face to face, run a straight stitch 3/4" - 1" from the edge. Next you're going to cut one flap of the initial seam allowance to be half the length of the other flap. Take the longer flap, fold it in half, then fold the over the other flap. Ensuring to cover the raw edge and stitch down the flap for strength. 

Technical Difficulty:  Pro

Strength: Stronger than a simple seam and rolled hem. Similar to hybrid, and French seam. 

Waterproofness:Enhanced

Seam allowance requirements: ¾” to 2”

Raw edge: Hidden

Applications: Tarps, bags, apparel, etc.

French Seam

Definition: Start by placing the fabrics wrong side to wrong side. You are going to run a basting stitch ⅛” to ¼” from the edge. Then you’ll flip your project out so you’re looking at the wrong side. Fold, the fabric in half. Run a straight stitch over the seam allowance that you just created. Ensuring to encapsulate the raw edge. (The French Seam does not require sewing the flap down like the Hybrid would.)

Technical Difficulty:  Amateur 

Strength: Stronger that a simple seam, weaker than flat felled, and hybrid 

Waterproofness:Enhanced

Seam allowance requirements:3/4” - 2”

Raw edge: Hidden

Applications: Apparel or applications where you can't perform a hybrid seam

Button Hole

Definition: Two parallel bartacks with a small sliver of fabric in between that can be cut out to be a useable as a secured porthole. 

Notes: Wouldn't recommend this stitch on a fabric that weighs less than 1.9 oz/yd²

Example: A substitute for grommets, apparel, etc.


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.