Monday, January 18, 2010

Tuesday's Tute: Sewing in the flat. What is that?

It's one of the two techniques that made this skirt worth doing. There's no way I would have used the traditional method for attaching these tiers. In fact, sewing in the flat is my new favorite way to put most patterns together.

Sewing in the flat is sewing all the seams you can with the garment in it's flat form, before you sew the seams that make it three dimensional/round. For instance, if we were going to sew our three-tiered skirt in the flat, we would gather and sew the three tiers together first, while it's flat. Then we'd sew the side seam, casing, and hem. Or for our shirt, we'd sew the shoulder seams, neckline, and attach the sleeves, then sew up the side seams, including the underarm seam.

Why sew in the flat? When attaching tiers in the flat, gathering is simplified. There's no need for pinning and adjusting the gathered piece to the next tier. Since the pieces are flat, not circular, you need not have an exact fit. Also, when sewing children's clothing there are often small areas, armholes, to work in. Having the garment flat eliminates some of those small places.

So how is this done? Hopefully this tutorial will give you what you need to know to sew tiers/ruffles in the flat. And, with the previous tutorial on how to gather without pulling threads you'll find making ruffled or tiered skirts so much easier and quicker, too!

Step 1: GatherSew the gathering stitches. Gather your fabric up to about 2/3 (1.5 x ratio) or ½ (2 x ratio) the original length, which ever your pattern suggests,...close is ok.
Step 2: Fit
Lay the gathered piece and the piece it will attach to out flat.
Take the gathered edge and the edge it will be attached to and compare them.
Pull or leave out gathers until the pieces come close to matching. Don't fret over a small bit. Close is ok.
Step 3: Sew
Sew the two pieces together, moving gathers slightly to create an even look.
Step 4: Repeat steps 1-3 until all of the pieces are attached.
Step 5: Sew side seam.
Step 6: Cut off any ends from uneven tiers.
Step 7: Finish side seam with a zigzag.
Step 8: Sew the casing and hem as you normally would.

Please show us your skirts...or what ever else you create in the "flat". Join in our flickr group. (It's in the left margin.)

Happy Sewing!



  1. This skirt is Fabulous!! I've been wanting tomake one, but was really scared of messing it up. I saw a tute on Martha Stewarts website, and it was SUPER confusing. If I try your method, I will be sure to link back:)

  2. Great skirt, thanks for linking up to my post and being the first one :).

  3. Hi Debbie,

    As an editor of I wanted to let you know that we're featuring Squiggly Twigs Designs in our next Tuesday newsletter! We've chosen a few of your projects and tips from our site, (like Sewing in the Flat)  and linked to your blog.  This will easily drive traffic back to you. We want to thank you for supporting AllFreeSewing and hope you'll spread the word that you've been chosen for our featured blog. Thanks!



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