Seams and Hems

There are several types of seams known to be used in the 14th century. Many of the seams are quite intriquite and surprisinglingly inventive. For the purposes of this website, I will cover the simplest seam constructions that are found. The seams are found from Greenland to Germany and are common across many times and locations.

I will concentrate of how to create these seams by hand and not by machine.


Seam Type 1 – Tacked down seam allowance

Step 1. Begin as you would for a flat felled seam.

Using a running stitch you will sew a seam with about a 1/2″ seam allowance

 

 

Step 2. Completed running stitch seam

 

 

 

 

Step 3. This image shows what this seam looks like sewn down with either running stitch (left) or whip stitch (right). Both are very period and sometimes one garment uses both techniques. In fact, most garments use many different seam techniques.

 

 

Step 4. This is what this seam looks like from the outside of the fabric. Basically no difference.

 

 

 


Seam Type 2 – Flat Felled Seam, Sort of

This is not a true flat felled seam as the raw egde is not turned under in the final step.

Step 1. Using a running stitch you will sew a seam with about a 1/2″ seam allowance

 

 

 

Step 2. Continue in this fashion until you complete the seam.

 

 

 

 

Step 3. A completed running stitch seam

 

 

 

 

Step 4. Clip one side of the seam so that the second side easily covers it and lays flat. This is an example of sewing the seam allowance down with a whip stitch.

See this image of a flat felled seam for clarity. Again, the sewn edge will not be turned under in this period. The flap is sewn down with a whip stitch.

 

Step 5. This is an example of sewing the seam allowance down with a running stitch.

 

 

 


Seam Type 3 – French Seam, again, sort of

Step 1. Begin as you would for a flat felled seam.

Using a running stitch you will sew a seam with about a 1/2″ seam allowance.

 

Step 2. Begin tucking your raw edges into the seam.

You can also simply whip stitch the raw edges together without tucking them inside. The fabric I am using usually dictates how I finish.
Fulled wool gets a whipped raw edge but only if you decide the seam needs to be finished as fulled wool rarely ravels..
Linen gets a tucked then whipped edge.

Step 3. Another view of the raw edges being tucked in then whip stitched.

 

 


Seam Type 4 – Singling

This is an interesting “seam” found on the Greenland gowns and described in Woven into the Earth

This method is a very interesting treatment of hems. The author of Woven into the Earth, Else Ostergard, calls all parts of a garment that have stitching of some kind, a seam, even unsewn hems. It must be a European definition because in the States we don’t refer to hems as seams, sewn or not. This “seam” reinforces the raw edge without turning it back in the way we modernly treat hems.

This is sewn using a series of running stitches in a serpentine line.

This photo shows Singling from the wrong side of the fabric, the working side for this method.

This is what Singling looks like from the right, outer, side of the fabric.

This method typically was used in conjunction with one of the following methods of finishing.

 

1. Tablet woven edging (2 -3 cards using 2 threads per card)

2. A finger looped braid or cord whip stitched onto the edge

3. A method referred to as foot weaving, or Slynging, a technique I have not yet figured out.

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