Manufactured Clothing: Lessons in seam finishes


Naomi of Spare Room Style and I had an interesting and helpful exchange this morning about stabilizing and finishing seams that fall on the bias.  Naomi might make a camisole completely cut on the bias.  She is thinking of using French seams but wondered if that would be too heavy.

I have not sewn with garments cut on the bias so my advice here is very limited.  I am more familiar with sewing flounces where either the side seam falls on the bias or the entire piece is on the bias.  In those instances I’ve sometimes pinked the seam but never used a zig-zag stitch.

I mentioned a very old teddy I have that is completely cut on the bias.  I thought that the construction used in this manufactured item could offer us sewistas some clues.  So here are photos analyzing how the teddy was constructed using factory techniques.  I’ve also included photos of a pair of lounge pajamas made in a polyester that feels something like silk.  The teddy and the lounge pajamas are almost 30 years old.  It proves that careful hand washing and storage can prolong the life of anything you wear.  The pajama bottoms need a new elastic waistband.  I may do a drawstring so that the issue is corrected once and for all.

The bias teddy is stored flat in a box and is wrapped in tissue.  It was a gift to me way back in the day.  As pretty as it looks I will be honest with my blog friends about this gift:  it is not flattering at all.  It is cut too low at the bust and too high at the leg.  The lace at the crotch isn’t soft and overall it is not sexy once on.  For a small boned, small busted woman with nice curves below the waist this is a disaster!  I also felt so very strange getting a gift of intimate lingerie from a married couple who knew this was not in keeping with who I am.  I quietly thanked them and put it back in the box.

My boyfriend at the time also didn’t like it.  He thought I looked better in faded denim shorts a la Daisy Dukes style, a cropped white t-shirt and wedgie sandals.  Go figure what women think is sexy doesn’t always line up with what your guy likes.

Teddy Construction

The teddy is by a company called Sami.  The fabric is 100% silk and the lace is nylon & polyester.

The lace was applied to the front and back pieces at top and bottom.  Then a French seam was sewn all the way down at the side seams.  The finished French seam is 1/4″ wide.

The French seam is very lightweight and smooth from the outside.  On the inside it looks slightly puckered but that may have been caused by the turning of the seam into the fabric for the second stitching of the French seam.

This is the front of the teddy on my dress form.  You can see how high the sides are cut.  It’s almost at abdomen level.  It was not flattering to have part of my backside exposed so much.  And the top is too low.

This is the back of the bias cut teddy.  The back is slightly baggy and because so much shows in an unflattering manner, it’s hard to envision who this was made for.

The lace overlays the silk on the right side of the fabric.  A tiny stitch similar to a zig-zag joins the two pieces together.

Lounge Pajamas

There is no manufacturer’s label inside the lounge pajamas.  They are very comfortable but the top buttons too low.  It’s way below my bustline so I wear these with a tank top underneath.

Top and back of the loungewear pajama set.  This was a gift from the same people who gave me the teddy.  Again the construction is beautiful but the styling leaves something to be desired.  The buttons start almost below the bust line.

The fabric is very silky and I would think prone to shredding as their are threads I sometimes have to trim from the side seams.  The seams are 1/4″ wide, finished with a merrow stitch and pressed towards the back of the garment.  I think a home sewist could do the same with a small zig-zag stitch in lieu of an overlock stitch.

The pajama top was not interfaced along the center front.  The edges were merrowed.  I think this finish provides the best solution.  If I were to sew such a pajama set on my own machine, I’d straight stitch 1/4″ from the edge and then hand overcast if it were real silk.  For polyester I might zig-zag.








23 thoughts on “Manufactured Clothing: Lessons in seam finishes

  1. Thanks Em! Much appreciated.
    Have you thought about converting the teddy into a camisole? Then you could shorten the straps and make the neckline more appropriate, and have no further issues with issues around the crotch. I used to do this with second hand teddies, it removed the ick factor, and gave me a more wearable garment.
    And it is intriguing that a couple gave you such an intimate garment! The analyst in me wonders if the husband had bought an undesired gift for his wife and they regifted it…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh thank you so much! That is an excellent idea. I didn’t have the heart to throw it out because the construction is very good and the color is pretty. I will play around with it on the dress form and see if I can use the lace from the botton as a hem for a cami. Thanks so much.

      Anything was possible when it came to those two. I’m not sorry that they are gone from my life.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Since we’re on the story I’ll tell you the rest. The couple were family. They were upwardly mobile and very 1980s with their love of luxury. Which is fine but it wasn’t what me and my guy were about. We were very happy in our jeans and t shirts and cooking at home. I wasn’t into the 1980s materialism at all. Long story short, this couple broke up. Divorced. The wife was the better part, despite our differences we later understood each other pretty well and a respect set in.

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      • It was sad to let go but also I had to. Like I said the wife had very good values and wanted to make the marriage work. She also was sympathetic to me when I was looking for a job. She gave me some Anne Klien silk dresses that were very interview appropriate. When the husband took up with another woman and made me a party to the fact I was frozen. Shortly after he left his wife and wanted me to meet the mistress. To which I said no.

        I’d been two timed around that time and it’s no funny matter. Besides I just can’t look at a woman who entices a married man away from his wife as someone I want to hang out with or socialize with. I figured the mistress was his choice and I didn’t get involved. Eventually his wife and I stopped communicating. I never told her what I knew.


  2. Making a camisole from the teddy is a really good idea. I hope it works well.
    My bias cut top is made of linen and I hand overcast it. I intend to make another by machine but still think hand overcasting is the best method.

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