Take a look at the stitches of this doll. It is sewn so that the shift from the upper fabric piece to the lower one is very smooth: enter image description here Compare it with this kind of sewing: The shift from the two fabric pieces is salient, and looks kind of like "lips", or a "vally": enter image description here

What I'd like to know is how to achieve the former sewing style with hand-sewing.

  • 1
    The first looks like flat lock stitch and the second could be lots of things. I think material choices play a part here. If I had to guess the second is thicker than the first. So I would say look into a flat lock stitch and use thinner material. Someone better at sewing should know more.
    – Matt
    Jun 2, 2017 at 13:40
  • 1
    It might be using an underlying band of fabric to bridge the two sections.
    – 2redshirt
    Jun 4, 2017 at 3:45

2 Answers 2


The first one is a machine technique known as flat lock stitching. A machine stitch found on a home sewer that could be used as an alternative would be the three part zigzag. Many of the hand stitching techniques are being lost due to the speed of the machine stitches.

Stoating is a technique I have read about and is very challenging to do by hand. Here is a link that might be of some interest on stoating: https://books.google.com/books?id=k15YAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA343#v=onepage&q&f=true

  • Your link just led me to the cover of the book, not to a page where the stitching is shown.
    – Willeke
    Jun 10, 2017 at 10:04
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    So sorry, I don't know why for me it links to pg 343. The stitch is not shown it is talked about. Let's see...Find the links at the bottom of the page on WIKIPEDIA for Stoating: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoating Some of the links refer to it with the spelling of "stotting" but it is pronounced with the long 'o' in 'oa'. After reviewing them again I believe this is my favorite of the links, Thrift with a needle; the complete book of mending. Ryan, Mildred Graves, 1905-: babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/… Jun 12, 2017 at 16:49

The thickness of the fabric and whether or not you press your seams makes a huge difference.

The fabric in the upper picture is so thin you can actually see through it, while the one in the lower picture looks quite thick and almost like felt. Thicker fabric will always create thicker seams.

To create a nice flat seam you basically want the fabric to fold as flat as possible at the very center of the seam. This can only be achieved by pressing / ironing the seams open. Have a look at my fabulous diagram:


When you sew two pieces of fabric together, they lay straight. When you open the seam, both pieces try to stay as straight as possible, creating those "lips". If one piece of fabric is thicker / stronger than the other one, it will stay straight and force the weaker piece to bend.

By pressing / ironing the seam you tell the fabric exactly where to fold in which direction, creating a neat, flat seam. It works so well that you can make a seam in a woven cotton fabric almost invisible.

  • Definitely a fabulous diagram!
    – HeyJude
    Nov 15, 2018 at 11:19

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