Sewing silk: seams and finishes

This is the last part in “sewing silk” post series (see previous parts here, here, here and here) and we’ll talk about seams.

Joining seam

Expensive fabrics require fine finishes, and transparent fabrics need to look perfect inside and out. Therefore the joining seam of choice is a french seam.

French seam encloses raw edges and looks good on both sides. It is pretty easy to sew, check this out:

What about overlocking?

Overlocker uses 3 threads to overcast the edge and these threads often show on the outside. This fact doesn’t stop many people using this finish and I often see it in RTW too. Personally I think it makes expensive fabric look cheap.


Rolled hem is your weapon of choice. Fine fabrics have fine everything, so the width of the hem varies between 3 mm (1/8”) and 1.2 cm (1/2”).
For these types of jobs the rolled hem presser feet are the best tools, and I have quite a selection:


Using a rolled hem foot is quite a learning curve, so you don’t feel confident enough, you might want to choose to hem by hand, zigzag or use your overlocker. However, I think mastering this skill is well worth your while:

rolled hem 3

Armholes and Necklines

Bias finish for armholes and neck edges (where sleeves and collars are not used) are the best. You really don’t need a floppy facing showing through.

There are two widely used finishes: outside and inside bind. Outside bind is visible and can be used with contrasting fabrics as a decorative finish. Inside bind is concealed and great for clean look.

Usually you need a 2.5 cm (1”) wide bias for an outside bind, but keep in mind that fine fabric on bias stretches and gets narrower in a process. I have noticed that if I cut 3.5 cm (1 3/8″) wide strip, it usually just enough to work with comfortably.

Here is a quick refresher on the outside bind technique:

For the inside bind you can use the same bias width and trim it in the process, or cut it 0.5 cm (1/4”) narrower:

That’s it, I hope you are feeling more confident using fine fabrics in your sewing!

Lena Merrin
Lena Merrin

A dressmaker of many years, I enjoy drafting patterns and create custom garments.

7 thoughts on “Sewing silk: seams and finishes

  1. Ming says:

    Hi Lena,

    I see you have an industrial machine that uses high shank feet! Do you find that the larger balled rolled hem feet (like the one on the far right of your picture) feed and turn better than the smaller scrolls? I love mine, they work so much better than the ones for home machines. They are so cheap in comparison too! I hope more home sewers learn about using rolled hem feet for industrial machines, I think the learning curve is a little less steep.

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