Oliver + S

finishing seams on voile

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    romylou @romylou

    I am sewing the seashore sundress using some Anna Maria Horner voile (so not too sheer, but still very lightweight). I don’t have a serger. I prefer to do a french seam, but it’s not always possible. My problem is that since the fabric is so lightweight, it doesn’t take to being zigzaged very well. The zigzag tends to pull in the fabric between the width of the zigzag stitches, kind of folding/scrunching it. Is this just a tension issue? Could I self-bind the seams, or is that going to weigh it down too much? This is a gift for my niece, so I’m trying to make it look special. I have a Kenmore/Janome machine if that makes any difference.

    Believe it or not, I’m actually pretty new to finishing seams at all. I have come back to sewing for my kids after being away from it for a long time. As a teenager, sewing for myself, I would just sew and go.

    Liesl Gibson

    Romylou, some machines have a special foot for sewing zigzag along the edges. On the Janome machines it’s a foot with two little wires that hold the fabric so it doesn’t cinch up when the zigzag threads cross. I don’t think it’s a tension issue–it’s simply a very lightweight fabric.

    I can think of a two options for you if the zigzag isn’t working out: you could fold the seam allowance under and edgestitch the fold since the fabric isn’t very thick and probably won’t show any extra bulk from the outside. Like this: http://www.oliverands.com/blog/2010/06/straight-stitch-seam-finishing.html

    Or you could pink the edges and straight stitch them, as in the last photo here: http://www.oliverands.com/blog/2010/06/straight-stitch-seam-finishing.html

    I wouldn’t recommend binding them since that may get a little too bulky for a lightweight fabric.

    Let us know how it works out!

    Violaisabelle @Violaisabelle

    Liesl, I had no idea there was a foot for that. I’ll have to check my machine. I don’t zigzag edges, so I never thought of a foot.

    Romylou, I have never used that voile before, but I have used lots of voile. I have that pattern, but I have not used it, so I don’t remember the construction details. If you are able to use french seams, I would highly recommend it. It’s a wonderful way to finish off voile garments, if the construction allows for it. Keep in mind you are using 1/2″ seam allowances, so don’t follow the rules for 5/8″ when doing the french seams. You used the term ‘self bind’, so I’m not exactly sure what you mean by that. If you are asking to bind the seams, using the voile fabric you have to make the bias tape to do this, and with a narrow width, I think this could work out beautifully. I have done this on voile petticoats with great success. If, however, you are speaking of using the premade packages out of a cotton/poly blend, as Lisel said, I wouldn’t recommend it, indeed it would be bulky.

    I would love to see your dress when you are finished. I only recently learned of this designer’s voile. 😉


    I’m editing my post as I began to wonder if possibly you wanted to see voile with french seams to see if that is something you want or not. I just quickly went through my pictures of a few items I have made to give you an idea. This first link has a close up of the bodice of the dress in progress, it is made from a swiss dot voile. The seams are mostly french seams with the sleeve seam being bound with a white voile, rather than the swiss dot because the dots made it more uneven and bulky. 😉 The garment on the left is a bodiced petticoat, out of linen, in progress. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_Cw8gegdikNk/TMewlNvuxzI/AAAAAAAAApQ/zqvpr5rv3xo/s1600/1780%27s+dress+petticoat+in+progress.JPG+edit.jpg+2.jpg The second link has several pictures of the finished dress so you can get an idea of ‘seams’ showing through a light weight fabric. All pictures are click-able to enlarge. http://stitchedbyhislove.blogspot.com/2010/11/finished_05.html I hope it’s helpful.

    romylou @romylou

    I wanted to update this post with my finished results in case this information would be helpful to anyone else in the future (including remembering what I did myself!). I really like the way it turned out with the lightweight fabric. It works well with this pattern.

    I actually do have the special foot for zigzagging along edges. I highly recommend it for anyone who doesn’t have a serger! The foot has little wires to hold the fabric down and together, preventing the needle from pushing the fabric down into the machine. However, the problems with bunching fabric were occurring even with the special foot. What I ended up doing when I really needed to zigzag was I used a different zigzag stitch that is on my machine. Instead of one stitch for each zig, it does three. This did a MUCH better job at keeping the fabric layers in sync and stable.

    For the side seams and princess seams, I used regular french seams. They turned out very well and were very easy. My main recommendation for anyone else attempting french seams on this dress is to make sure you match your notches and start sewing from the bottom of the dress. Since the top is curved for the arm-hole, the first step (wrong sides together) of your french seams is NOT going to line up at the top. Stop worrying, it will turn out OK.

    For the bottom edge of the facing, I folded the edge under (as little as possible) and used my special zigzag stitch.

    For finishing the seam at the top of the gather, I used my special zigzag stitch.

    For finishing the curve of the pocket, I turned the edges in towards each other, pressed them in place, and edge stitched them together.

    One last thing that I noticed was that when making the buttonholes, I needed to let the machine do its thing over each hole twice.

    I put a couple of photos up on the flickr group: http://www.flickr.com/photos/romylou/5982449233/in/pool-694451@N21/

    Tamara @justsewit

    The foot Liesel was talking about is called an “overcasting” foot. It is useful to give the serged look but of course without the knife to cut the edges.

    Sarvi @Sarvi

    I was having the same problem with the zig zag until I made it reaaalllllyyy tiny. I had a nice garment that was a gift from an experienced seamstress and the zig zags were so much tinier than it would have occurred to me to try to make them. That did the trick and in fact I now like that method best. It’s got the best mix of being neither bulky nor ‘hairy’ of any finish I’ve tried yet. I used to love enclosed seams because of how tidy they look but there are a lot more layers of fabric and the effect on how the garment flows is a lot different. I quite like them for the Tea Party dress because they help the skirt show off its sweet shape, but I didn’t like them for the Class Picnic blouse as much, they made it feel a bit too rigid. I think it all depends on what sort of effect you want to achieve.

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