Lapped seams are a slimline bulk-free seam suitable for thicker fabrics that do not fray, such as leather, vinyl, fleece, and felt. The edges of each piece of fabric overlap without being finished. This creates an extremely flat and simple seam. Both pieces of fabric are overlapped, facing up. In contrast, most other seams are stitched with the fabric wrong sides together to form an enclosed seam.
Lapped Seams Tutorial
Lapped seams feel like a very simple seam. There are variations that can become more complicated as you turn your lapped seams into decorative seams. This is a very basic, bulk-free seam for a thick type of fabric. It may be used for construction purposes as well as giving a decorative look to your sewing projects.
This article will show you the basic lapped seams and then some variations.
Tips for Sewing Lapped Seams
- CUTTING - The key to a perfect lapped seam is to accurately and cleanly cut your fabric edges. Using a rotary cutter and ruler is a good way to achieve this.
- THREADS - Keep in mind that your stitching will show on the outside, so choose a type of thread and color that suits the look you require. Contrasting threads can add an interesting twist to your lapped seams.
- MARKING - If you need to mark the position of your seam allowances, make sure you only mark the wrong side of the fabric.
- STITCHING - Your stitching will show on the garment outside, so double check your tension and make sure you stitch straight.
- NEEDLES AND FEET - Because this stitch is designed for thicker fabrics such as leather, make sure you have an appropriate sewing machine needle. Leather or vinyl will need leather needles and either a Teflon foot or walking foot.
How to Do Lapped Seams, Step by Step Instructions
This basic lapped seam is for fabrics that do not fray, like leather, vinyl, fleece, felt, or suede. There is no seam finishing, just overlapping of the fabrics and stitching. It is normally used for a straight seam.
How to do a basic lapped seam:
Step 1 - Overlap Edges
Place both fabric pieces right sides up and overlap the edges by the seam allowance.
Step 2 - Mark the Seam
Draw a line or pin a guideline along the seamline.
Step 3 - Stitch the First Seam
Run a straight stitch along the edge of the upper piece of fabric close to the raw fabric edges.
Step 4 - Turn and Stitch the Second Seam
Turn the joined fabric over to the wrong side and sew another line of straight stitching along the other side of the lapped seam.
Press your seam, and that’s it! A lapped seam is a really simple way of overlapping two pieces of fabric and sewing them together.
Variations of Lapped Seams
Once you have accomplished your first lap seam you will find these variations of the lap seam very easy and useful.
Here are 3 variations to try.
Turned Lapped Seams
A turned lapped seam is a little bit more complicated than a lapped seam. However, the extra turning and sewing, make this a very hardwearing seam. It is ideal for rough and tough outdoor clothing.
The turned lap seam will be stitched three times, giving it that extra strength.
Step 1 - Overlap and Stitch
Overlap and stitch the seam on the seam line.
Both pieces of fabric will have right sides up and overlapped according to the seam allowance. You stitch on the seam line, which will be right in the middle of the overlap.
Step 3 - Turn the Seam
Now you are going to turn the seam. Turn one side over the seam and the other side under the seam. The raw edges of the seam should be tucked between the fabrics.
Step 4 - Stitch the Folded Edge
Stitch down the seam at the normal seam allowance and enclose the fabric inside the stitching of the seam from the first line of stitching.
You will see four layers of fabric in this part of the seam stitching. Press your seam.
Turn the fabric over to the wrong side and machine stitch along the fold of the seam. At this point, you have stitched the seam three times and have a very secure seam.
If you are using bulky fabric for this seam trim off some of the seam allowances before folding it over. It is a good idea to try this out on a scrap of fabric to get used to the overlapping and turning of the seam. Once you have seen how it works you will love this seam for its strength and durability.
Double Lapped Seams
Use a narrower or wider seam allowance depending on the finished look you are trying to achieve.
- Fold the top side of the seam over the raw edges of the base seam allowance. Press down firmly.
- Then top stitch on the right side.
- Press again on both sides for a neat and uniform look once the seam is complete.
Neatened Edge Lapped Seams
This seam works the same way as the basic lap seam, but you can neaten the inside raw edge with the neatening method of your choice.
These are the best options:
- Pinking shears.
- Serge or overlocking the edges.
- Zigzag the edges.
The most important quality of a lapped seam is the fact that it is not bulky therefore, a simple, but effective seam neatening is best.
Lapped Seams - In Conclusion
The lapped seam, and all its different varieties, is really a very interesting and worthwhile seam to consider for bulky fabrics that do not fray at the edges.
- Sewing Basics
- Fabric - Felt, Fleece or Leather
- Place both fabric pieces right sides up and overlap the edges by the seam allowance.
- Draw a line or pin a guideline along the seam allowances. Run a straight stitch along the edge of the upper piece of fabric.
- Turn the joined fabric over to the wrong side and sew another line of straight stitching along the other side of the lapped seam.
- Press your seam with a pressing cloth.