Many Australians enjoy creative hobbies. Embroidery, knitting, crochet, sewing, etc., arts and crafts are coming back. Whether you’re making an item of clothing, a present for a friend, or touching up your curtains, creative pursuits allow you improve your imagination.

So how can you get started with sewing together your own creations?

To tailor-make clothes or touch up others, here are two sewing techniques you can use: the open seam and the closed seam. Get your sewing equipment ready (pins, iron, interfacing, needles, etc.).

In this article, we're going to have a look at what each of these seams are, what they're used for, and how you make them.

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What Is an Open Seam?

Sewing can seem complicated at first when you don’t know the lingo or the techniques. However, the open seam is one of the simplest to do.

How do you do an open seam?
An iron will help you make an open seam. (Source: RitaE)

The open seam allows you to join two pieces of fabric together without making the fabric too thick. This technique is often used for fabrics that are already quite thick or heavy, to begin with.

The open seam is used by beginners and experts alike. It can be used for coats, trousers, skirts, purses, or any other project using a heavy fabric.

The folds of each fabric are separated and then sewn together. This means that there isn’t twice as much thickness at the seam. You’ll usually need an iron when doing an open seam.

If you’re a beginner, you can quite easily learn to do this seam. You can also regularly use it for your own projects.

Find sewing classes in Australia on Superprof.

How Do You Do an Open Seam?

As we mentioned before, the open seam isn’t particularly complicated and it’s often one of the first ways you’ll learn how to sew.

You just need to overcast or serge to the two pieces of fabric that you want to use in order to create an open seam. This means that the thread won’t get in your way while you’re sewing. This will also make your work cleaner. That said, you can skip this step if you’re in a rush.

If this is the case, take two pieces of fabric, and place them right sides together. To make sure the two pieces stay in place, you should pin them together as this will ensure better results.

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With the help of a sewing machine or by hand, start sewing a centimetre from the edge of the fabric. This is the seam allowance or inlay, the distance between the edge of the fabric and the seam. Generally, this is between 1cm and 1.5cm.

To ensure that the stitching is clean, don’t forget to start and finish your stitches. This will be at either end of the thread.

Once you’re done, open the two parts of the fabric that you’ve sewn together. You want the wrong side facing upwards and you’ll place the two pieces of fabric with the right side down. The extra fabric will be overlapping.

Take this extra part and fold it over. This is called pressing open the seam.Iron the two ends until they’re as flat as possible. Turn everything over and iron the side with the stitching. Press down hard so that the stitching remains flat. You don’t want to be able to feel the stitching on the ends.

Find out more about other common seams.

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Closed Seams

Closed seams are the opposite to open seams in the way that the seam allowance is on the same side. You don’t need to separate the two sides but rather place them together.

What do you need to sew?
Have you got your sewing kit ready? (Source: jackmac34)

This technique is usually used for sewing light fabrics on clothing such as shirts, blouses, or lingerie. Unlike an open seam, a closed seam adds to the thickness. A closed seam on a thick fabric would be too noticeable from the outside.

A closed seam includes a lot of the same steps as an open seam. You’ll need to have your iron on hand and overcast the fabric, if necessary.

How Do You Do a Closed Seam?

Just like with an open seam, a closed seam starts by placing to pieces of fabric right sides together. Pin them so that they won’t move. The seam allowance needs to be 1cm. This means you won’t have too much extra fabric but it’ll be easy to work with.

How do you use a sewing machine?
Do you need the help of a sewing machine? (Source: StockSnap)

When using a sewing machine, there are usually markings that indicate the right distance. If you want to sew by hand, you can use pins or a pencil to mark the allowance. To finish the stitching, you can sew back over a few centimetres of the stitching so that it doesn’t come undone.

Remove the pins and then place your work right side down. You want the wrong side facing you and to be able to see the edges. You just need to place the to edges on the same side.

With the help of an iron, flatten to the edges. Turn over the fabric and iron the other side. You can iron it several times if you want.

You can then finish the seam by overcasting the two ends of the edges. This will make your seam cleaner. You just need to cut the ends of the threads and you’re done.

The overlock stitch is also very useful!

When Should You Use an Open Seam and a Closed Seam?

As you’ll have understood, the main difference between a closed seam and an open seam is how you deal with the edges.

Where can you learn to sew?
You could also attend sewing workshops or classes to help. (Source: jackmac34)

So which one should you use?

Once you’ve finished sewing, you can test which of the seams will work for you. When you’ve got two edges, check whether a closed seam would be too thick and if so, opt for an open seam.

You can’t do this the other way round since if you start with an open seam, you’ll have one or two edges going the wrong way. This will make it harder to do the fold. A thick seam can ruin a piece so be careful.

Learning to do a zig-zag stitch might be worthwhile, too. Check out the best sewing classes on here.

How Can You Learn to Do an Open Seam or a Closed Seam?

There are different ways to learn. The best way is whichever method has you progressing the fastest. Learning to do an open seam or a closed seam isn’t the most complicated aspect of sewing. This is why these seams are very common.

You could teach yourself to sew by following steps in guides like this one or the many tutorials online. You can find online tutorials on YouTube which are great as you can see what you’re supposed to be doing. You can also follow them in real time.

You can also ask a friend who knows how to sew. Learning to sew with friends can be enjoyable and you can use your scissors, pins, thread, and needles to make your own clothes and accessories. You can decorate your clothes and open and closed seams can be used for all types of projects.

There are also workshops that take place in haberdasheries. You can learn sewing techniques like open and closed seams, French seams, or zig-zag stitches. In a sewing class or workshop, a sewing kit and an experienced teacher can go a long way.

Learning With a Sewing Tutor

If none of your friends know how to sew, then you can learn how to do so with the help of a private tutor. This method is recommended if you want to learn more than just the basics. You’ll learn how to add zips, use a serger, a sewing machine, get your seam allowances right, make a hem, use sewing patterns, and many other sewing techniques like a straight stitch, French seam, and zig-zag stitch.

Here at Superprof, we have plenty of talented tutors offering face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, or group tutorials.

Face-to-face tutorials can be the most expensive but you'll also enjoy being the only student in the class and bespoke tuition, making them the most cost-effective tutorials available.

Online tutorials are a more affordable option for many people, given that you or your tutor don't have to travel, rather you will learn teaches via digital video platforms such as Zoom, Skype and Webex. Not having your tutor there next to you can make arts and crafts a little more difficult, but if you have a decent webcam and an even better tutor, anything is possible!

Group tutorials can often be the cheapest per person per hour because the students share the cost of the tutor's time. If you and a few friends want to learn how to sew, this could be the right option.

Using your Sewing Skills for Good

After having learnt these new sewing techniques, why not consider spending some of your free time using your skills for good? In Australia, there a number of charities and organisations which operate with many volunteers and contribute back to local communities. 

You can either join a sew-a-long group with a few friends or members from your family, or just volunteer your time and meet some other enthusiastic people who want to put their skills to good use too! Here are a couple of organisations which focus on different ways to give back the community...

Sewing for Charity - Australia

This is a charity which focuses on giving back to the community by making contributions to local schools, hospitals, nursing homes and more. Based in Western Australia, this is a grassroots organisation which values volunteers!

Check out their website and see if there are any projects that you can get involved in and lend a helping hand. 

Wildlife Rescue

Use your new skills for good by creating nests and pouches for animals recovering from the effects of bush fires or orphaned marsupial babies. There are always animals in need, so why not make use of your abilities and create a cosy and safe home for Wildlife Rescue.

Take a look at their website and see where the closest Head Office to you is, so you can drop off your wonderful pouch creations. The marsupials will appreciate it! 

UpCycling Garments & Second Hand Fashion

If you are someone who is interested in vintage fashion, then the new skills you have just learnt about could come in handy! Today, vintage and second hand clothing is becoming more popular as people have become aware of the pitfalls of fast fashion.

Shopping second hand means that your wardrobe and style will be unique, you can have fun trying out different materials and patterns. However, occasionally vintage or second hand clothing will need a little TLC to keep extending their life and wear.

Using basic stitches and seams will allow you to repair any minor damages you may come across, on a beautiful 1970s blouse, for example! Another aspect of shopping vintage and second hand clothing is that you can put your textiles skills to the test and have a go at altering clothing.

Altering clothing is creating small changes, or improvements, to pre-existing garments. This could look like, taking in or letting out the waist of a dress or changing the shape of a shirt - flared sleeves anyone?

Many op shops in Australia have fabric sections, so make sure to check these out before rushing to Spotlight. With your own fabric you can use a variety of patterns to make your own clothes and keep up with trends if that's what you're into.

Of course, we haven't yet mentioned another benefit of shopping vintage and second hand, is the fact that you are certain to find some bargains! Your money will often go a lot further in an op shop, and not to mention many local op shops often support community causes.

Don't forget about garage sales, car boot sales, school fetes and vintage markets to search for your next fun item of clothing. Your textiles tutor could even have a few helpful hints themselves or where to find workable and useable fabrics. 

Head down to your local op shop today and see how many wonderful, unique and kooky garments you can find. A decent strip of fabric with an interesting and colourful pattern could turn into your next stylish going out dress.

Part of shopping second hand is having fun and exploring, to sharpen your textiles and altering skills contact one of our Superprof tutors today!

University Study

You may have reached the end of this article and considered taking your passion and love for garment construction, fashion and creativity to the next level. There are number of university degrees across Australia which will allow you to turn you passion into your dream job. 

RMIT University in Melbourne, has a number of courses ranging from diplomas to masters degrees in fashion, design and merchandising. This is a great option for anyone who is interested in the design component of fashion.

The University of Sydney and TAFE Western Australia also offer short courses and degrees in design and fashion. Choosing to take your textiles knowledge to a tertiary level will allow you to work collaboratively with other students and make use of studio spaces. 

You may even have the chance to design, construct and fabricate your own garments and present them at an end of year or mid year fashion show. Whatever level you wish to take your textiles skills, you're sure to meet some amazing people and have have fun. 

You’ve no excuses to not start sewing now!

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Daniel

A student by trade, Daniel spends most of his time working on that essay that's due in a couple of days' time. When he's not working, he can be found working on his salsa steps, or in bed.