1930s Seam Finishes

This scan was  originally posted at “My Happy Sewing Place-Fashions from the Past…”
Posting:  “E is for edge Finishes“, September 9, 2012.  Since there’s no way for me to repost the original from Blogger to WordPress I hope the link back to the original will provide enough credit.


The fabrics I’ve selected shred, especially the gabardine for the skirt.  I’m very happy to see that pinking was used as a finish in the 1930s.  What I might try for the blouse is seam finish D in the pattern instruction sheet shown above.  Instead of sewing the turned under edge by machine, I might use the hand sewn running stitch.  That sounds like the type of finish used in couture sewing.  Here is a transcription of each suggested finish for the pattern showed on the left:

A-Seam Edges Overcast:  Press seam open, then overcast edges.  When seams are not pressed open, as in an armhole, overcast both edges together.

B-Pinked Seam:  Pink edges by hand, machine or pinking shears; then press open.

C-Seam Edges Bound:  Suitable for unlined garments.  Crease seam binding near center and arrange over weam edges, with the wider part of the binding on the inside; then stitch.

D-Seam Edges Turned In:  Pres seam open, turn under edges about 1/8″ and sew with running stitches, or machine stitch close to turned edge.

I recommend following the link to the original posting.  There are many interesting tidbits about edge finishes in other decades.  I thank everyone for all their help with color selections and research.  This sew-along is developing into a very pleasant group project.  I’m learning so much about the smaller details I usually don’t pay much attention to.  It challenges me to look beyond the very familiar repertoire of skills I have and use most often.



6 thoughts on “1930s Seam Finishes

      • My mother always finished seams that way – she was trained as a dressmaker in the late 1940s. She always really wanted an overlooked though, but they were more or less only in factories back in the early 1970s.

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      • That’s right about the overlock machines. We called them merrow machines. They became available to the home seamstress in the early 1980s. I had a Juki for 3 years but when it needed repairing I didn’t want to spend anymore money or time on it. I just had no patience with it. It took four spools of thread, two needles and one or two blades. If you do a lot of sewing with knits I think they’re a good investment. Also, if you are detail oriented enough the maintenance will go much better.

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      • I had a second-hand one for a while but I couldn’t get on with all the threading. I have heard of machines that thread themselves but I don’t really think I need one so I haven’t looked into it.

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      • It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in thinking these machines are too much work. When it comes to delicate and lightweight fabrics they’re no good. If the seams are sewed together the finishing might work on such fabrics. I prefer pressing a seam open except when the fabric is sheer. Then I use either French seams or a narrow hairline seam (finished with a little zig-zag stitch and trimmed close to the stitching).

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