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  1. #1
    Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    felled french flat seam (or something like that)

    I am going to let the bee out of my bonnet with a story. This is not related in any substantive way to any other current thread. But it, and some PM finally moved me off my butt and pursue the question....

    It helps to have a wife who spent 30 years in the professional sewing business. So here is my story, confession, recommendation and bee release.

    I asked my wife about the "modified french seam" and the "flat felled seam" question. The story is when she was working professionally in the costume shop for stage theater and ballet she used a flat felled seam in the appropriate situation. _HOWEVER_ her direct supervisor used what I have been calling the modified french seam. So... one technique has no substantial advantage over the other in terms of durability or strength.

    In addition she said unless one is specifically trained in the use of the flat felled seam the "modified french seam" would likely to be easier to manage. This is particularly true for the less experienced DIY folks.

    Wait for it....

    However.... she also suggested that referring to the french seam model as a "flat felled seam (hybrid)" is not an accurate name and is a source of potential confusion.. Nor did she like the term "modified french seam". She objected to both on the same grounds. Since each is a defined style of seam, adding modifiers which are not clear can be a source of confusion. Hybrid flat felled seam is descriptive but not helpful as the "hybrid" is unclear. The same is true of "modified french seam" It is not the french seam which is being modified. (Yeah she's an author too, go figure.)

    Her term of preference for clarity of communication is "Top Stitched French Seam" as that describes accurately what is being done so the established world of stitching and the DIY forums of HF are speaking the same language.

    My recommendation is that we adopt for forum use the terminology that already exists in the outside world. That way the few clerks in Joannes who _do_ know something about sewing can be helpful to us. The world is larger than our forum.

    However... for the sake of simplicity and clarity for folks who are beginning to learn the craft of gear making, I will stop waving my flag for the true flat felled seam. Even in the professional they are used interchangeably and one appears as good as the other. Lets deal with the one that is simpler.

    The bee has flown away.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

    "Bless you child, when you set out to thread a needle don't hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it; that's the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t'other way."
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  2. #2
    Senior Member KerMegan's Avatar
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    descriptive and un-ambiguous; I like it.

  3. #3
    Knotty's Avatar
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    For me it will be unambiguous once diagrams are posted.
    Knotty
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  4. #4
    Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knotty View Post
    For me it will be unambiguous once diagrams are posted.
    Knotty that's part of the issue. If you look up Flat Felled seam on google, for example you will get directions for one seam. If you try to compare that to the french seam model you will be totally confused.

    If you look up French seam you will get standard and explicit directions for a particular seam. Top stitch means you fold over the flap and stitch it down. The terminology is not dependent upon the language of this forum.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

    "Bless you child, when you set out to thread a needle don't hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it; that's the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t'other way."
    Mrs. Loftus to Huck Finn

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  5. #5
    Senior Member TiredFeet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knotty View Post
    For me it will be unambiguous once diagrams are posted.
    +1

    You have stated a case for the use of the correct language.

    Now diagrams/instructions on the various seams under discussion would be helpful, otherwise I still have no idea what you are discussing and troubled about.

  6. #6
    Alamosa's Avatar
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    I agree that a certain level of accuracy is necessary when trying to carry on a conversation. However, we do have a very specific vernacular. We are are asking questions about using a thread-injector to make a hammock, tarp, stuff sack, top quilt, bottom quilt, backpack, etc.; whether this ripstop is 1.9, 1.1, 1.0, 2.2, etc.; and whether this prom dress fabric that happens to be on sale is nylon or polyester and will it support a person as a hammock.

    I have to believe that when talking to a clerk at the fabric store, a modified flat seam would have to be one of the least confusing parts of the conversation.
    We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately. - Ben Franklin
    (known as a win-win on this forum)

  7. #7
    Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alamosa View Post
    However, we do have a very specific vernacular. We are are asking questions about using a thread-injector to make a hammock, tarp, stuff sack, top quilt, bottom quilt, backpack, etc.; whether this ripstop is 1.9, 1.1, 1.0, 2.2, etc.; and whether this prom dress fabric that happens to be on sale is nylon or polyester and will it support a person as a hammock.

    I have to believe that when talking to a clerk at the fabric store, a modified flat seam would have to be one of the least confusing parts of the conversation.
    The only vernacular that is not standardized within the industry is "thread injector". All the rest of it is standardized language. The fact that many big box fabric stores hire people who don't know the language does not make it seldom used vernacular. I know too many experienced stitchers who would not have a clue what a hybrid flat felled seam is.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

    "Bless you child, when you set out to thread a needle don't hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it; that's the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t'other way."
    Mrs. Loftus to Huck Finn

    We Don't Sew... We Make Gear! video series

    Important thread injector guidelines especially for Newbies

    Bobbin Tension - A Personal Viewpoint

  8. #8
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    For those who want pictures ... I don't know if this is helpful or not, but I found a couple of drawings on the net that illustrate (first pic) a french seam and (second pic) a flat-felled seam. Both of them enclose the raw edges in the seam, but they really are different beasties in the way they're constructed. (I'll try to include the pix here, but I've never done it before. If it doesn't work I apologize and hope someone can help me do it!)

    There are lots of online directions and videos that show how to make each type of seam. Experienced fabric clerks (those that actually sew much besides quilts) should know the difference, and some may be able to show you how to do them, but I wouldn't count on it at places like JoAnn or Hancock etc. Experienced seamsters will know what they are, though, so I have to agree with Rev that calling either type of seam "modified" only muddies the waters!

    French seams are easier (I think) than flat-felled seams, especially for thin or slippery or ravelly stuff (e.g., nylon taffeta or ripstop), and they can be made stronger and flatter by top-stitching them down afterwards (which I think is the "modification" referred to here?) Flat-felled seams are good for heavy or stiff fabric (look at the outside leg seam of denim jeans -- that's a flat-felled seam)

    I have a feeling most fabric store clerks these days couldn't care less what kind of seam you want to use (the blank look), and a lot of them won't even care what you're making (the bored look), unless you ask them for help doing that kind of seam or choosing a fabric (or if YOU look interesting to the clerk!) So maybe easier just not to bring it up when you're buying your fabric. And yeah, I've never known a fabric clerk or anyone else not on HF call that thing a thread injector!!!

    I don't want to butt in here if not helpful, so I'll shut up now and hope the pix came through OK for those who asked for them!
    Attached Images Attached Images

  9. #9
    gargoyle's Avatar
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    French seam:


    Modified french seam:


    Mock french seam:


    And Scott's recent post of the hybrid french flat felled seam: (scroll down and to the right to view the example at the bottom.)
    Ambulo tua ambulo.

  10. #10
    Knotty's Avatar
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    Pictures. Now you're speaking my "language". Thanks G.

    Making gear over the past year I've done searches on the various seams, etc. Since this thread is about confusion over seam names I just thought it would be helpful to have illustrations to explain the words.
    Knotty
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