4 Professional Ways to finish Seams Without a Serger Machine

Last updated on March 18th, 2020 at 06:27 pm

professional-seams-finishes-without_sergerIn this sewing tutorial, you will learn 4 professional ways to finish seams without using a Serger.

This tutorial contains also some simple short video to help you better understand.


Most often when you sew, hem a dress, shirts, pants or whatever from any material you usually join two pieces of fabric.

You know what happened to some type of fabric when you cut them – dangling loose ends, fraying threads etc.

Not nice!

This easy to follow guide below will help you create a professional seam without the need for a Serger.

What you will need for this tutorial:

  • sewing machine
  • some pieces of fabric
  • threads
  • sewing or quilting iron
  • flat point needle (recommended) or ball point needle
  • overcast foot
  • pinking shears (recommended) or knife edge shears
  • seam reaper – just in case of some error

 Follow along with some pieces of fabrics. 

  1. Plain Seams With Clean Edge Finish

The simplest way to create a professional looking seam without using a Serger is by creating a plain seam with clean edge finish.

A plain seam is the most common type of machine sewn seam. It joins two pieces of fabric together face-to-face by sewing through both pieces, leaving a seam allowance with raw edges inside the work – [Wikipedia]

The trick here is cleaning or finishing up this raw edges

What do we use a plain seam for?

A plane stitch with clean edge finish is mostly used in making higher ends clothes, like, shirt, dresses pants.

How to create a plain seam

Here is how to do a professional double fabric seam finish. Follow the steps below and watch the following video if it’s not clear enough. I assume you already have the two fabrics piece to put together.

Step 1:

Place the two pieces of materials together with the right side facing each other and the wrong side also facing each other.

plain step 1
Same side of fabric stacked together

Step 2:

Using a 3/8″-1/2″allowance sew a simple straight stitch on the wrong side of the fabrics. Normally you should always stitch from the wrong side.

plain step 2
stitching on the wrong side

Step 3:

After sewing, open the fabric or material allowance and iron using a sewing iron.

fabric seam allowance, opened for ironing

Step 4:

Fold each side with about ¼ inch in of the allowance (or half its length), then sew a straight stitch on each.

Folding each side of the seam allowance
sewing a straight stitch on both folded seam allowance
Tool tip: For very large length of fabric, you may use a ball point needle to hold the folded fabrics before stitching. Another option, I always recommend for better result, is the flat point needle. 

Another option:

If you have a fabric that does not frays easily you can skip part of step 4 (i.e. the ¼ inch folding before stitching).

Pinking shears used for plain seaming fabric that does not fray easily – no folding

To make it still look more professional and beautiful use a pinking shears to cut out about 1/5 inch of the raw edges after step 2 and sewing a straight-line stitch on both side. If you do that you will have something like the image above (used another material and different thread color just for illustration purposes).

That’s it – Simple as hell guide on how to make a professional plain seam with clean edge finish.

Still not clear? Please watch this short YouTube video.

This demonstration is a simple plain seam finished by turning a single hem on each side of the seam.

I should make it clear that there are many variations of plane seam finishes. You can play with the finishing like zigzagging each side of the seam separately or using a binding.

Now let’s look at the second method for creating a professional looking seam without a Serger.

  1. French Seams With Clean Finish

A French seam is mostly used for a very delicate fabric for overcasting the seam allowance to prevent fraying of thread or raveling. 

French seam helps to clean edges of fabrics, hence creating a clean professional finishing look on both side (inside and outside) of the garment– [sewneau]

What do we use a french seam for:

Most often used for making short or dress sleeves.

How to create a french seam

Here is how to do a French seam without using an overlock machine. Follow the steps below and watch the following video if it’s not clear enough.

Step 1:

Repeat Step 1 from Tutorial 1 but this time around the wrong side should be casing each other as shown below:

Wrong side of fabric pieces casing or stacked on each other

Step 2

Using a smaller allowance of ¼ inch sew a simple straight seam on the right side of the staked fabrics. Unlike the plain seam you should stitch this time around on the right side.

stitching on the right side of the staked fabrics

Step 3

Open the joined fabric and fold to expose the wrong side, letting the good side case each other.

Folding – Move 1
Folding – Move 2

Step 4:

Stitch with a seam allowance a little above what was used on step 2 (kind of feel what was already sewn). In this case around 1/3-inch allowance. The idea is  to stitch just a little above the hidden seam on the other side, or just right on it.

stitching with around 1/3-inch seam allowance

Now if you like to make it even smooth, you can just fold it down and make a neat straight seam right on top.

if you like stitch again – right on top for smooth finish
Tool tips: Do some ironing to level it up and make it neater. 

At the end, this is how it would like at the inside and outside of the fabric.

inside - french seams
inside – french seams
outside - french seams
outside – french seams

Not clear, see this video for details:

  1. Flat Felled Seam

Felled seam, popularly known as flat-fell seam, is a type of seam done by hiding one edge inside another folded edge of fabric, then stitching the fold down.

Most often for smoother finish, it includes a topstitch –  Perfect for keeping seam allowances flat and covering edges that frays

What do we use a flat fell seam for?

Flat felled seams are mostly used for professional clothing like your retails Jeans, blouses, Pants legs, dress sleeve high end denims etc. Generally, it is used at most for men’s wear because of its neat finishing.

How to create a flat felled seam

Here is how to sew a flat felled seam without using a Serger. Follow the steps below and watch the following video if necessary to create a flat felled seam.

Step 1

Follow step 1 from Tutorial 1

Step 2

Follow step 2 from Tutorial 2

Step 3

Trim one part of the seam allowance down leaving just ¼ inch or half of it left. Then fold the uncut seam to hid the frays or edges of the cut seams. Fold one more time to cover the uncut seam edges.

One part of the seam allowance trimmed
Hiding the edges or frays of the trimmed seam allowance
Trimmed seam allowance completely hidden
Second folding hides the edges or frays of the un-trimmed seams

Step 4

Stitch or sew 2 straight stitch on the seams with almost no allowance (as close as possible to ¼ of an inch).

Stitching the seams after folding
Wrong side flat
Wrong side – flat felled seam

If you do it properly with ironing and the last seam with almost no allowance, you should get something like this below.

Finished – flat felled seam
Finished – flat felled seam
Tool tips: You should use threads that matched with the fabric.

Clearly on this type of seams the inside looks like the outside. You can decide to put the inside on the outside. It all depends on what you want (just switch step 1 fabric casing).

Not very clear? See this video:

  1. Welt Seam With Top Finish

A welt seam resembles a flat-felled seam but is less bulky. Rather than folding over and pressing the “top” seam allowance, it is simply finished with a zigzag stitch or pinking shears and then stitched down (the case with top finished).

What do we use a flat fell seam for?

Welt seams are mostly used for lining garment or bags. It provides a nice look on the lining of a bag, garments, and especially on materials that frays easily

How to create a welt seam

Here is how to quickly sew a French seam without using an overlock sewing machine. Follow my steps below and watch the following video if you are not clear.

Step 1

Follow step 1 from Tutorial 1

Step 2

Follow step 2 from Tutorial 2

Step 3

Trim one part of the seam allowance leaving about ½ of it left.

Trim or edge finish the uncut seam allowance

Trim or edge finish just a little part off from the uncut seam to clear or stop it from fraying. I recommend the use of a pinking shears, if the fabrics don’t fray so much. But if it does frays quite a lot, you can use a zigzag stitch with an overcast foot to seam the uncut seam instead of using a pinking shear.

Then press the seams allowance to one side to cover the cut seam or the shorter seam with the uncut seam using a sewing iron. This will hide any frays or edges of the cut seams.

Step 4

Next, stitch the fold together, just close to the edge keeping minimal seam allowance.

Stitching the fold – welt seam
Welt seam – after stitching wrong side

Finally turn the fabric over and add a top stitch on the right side. Again, for neater finish, you cannot do without ironing the fabric or seams.

Adding a top stitch – welt
Finished welt seam with top stitch – right side
Finish welt seam – wrong side
Finish welt seam – wrong side

Try to maintain equal distance or stitches parallel. You will be consistence and perfect, if you do these two or three times as a practice. Trust me after this you would come up with your own  technique for perfectly creating a Welt Seam with a professional look.

If you are still not clear, I found this video below from Miss Sew very clear, concise and easy to follow.


So that’s it is guys.

If you don’t have an over-locker or serger sewing machine these are 4 fantastic way you can stop your seam from fraying or make your fabric look more professional.