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Straight, Curved and Matched Seams and Other Seaming Techniques

©copyright 2002 by wetseal_rubber

From: Rubber The Right Way - A Condensed Primer on Making Your Own Latex Clothing


Straight Seams


Optional Seaming Preps

Prior to seaming, you can perform optional steps to aid in the seaming process:

  1. Apply low-tack masking tape directly behind the seam surfaces to be glued. This reduces the curling of latex when glue is applied and prevents stretching of the latex when the seam is joined.
  2. Apply low-tack masking tape alongside the seam surface to be glued, 1/2" (2.5 cm) from the edge of the material. This ensures a clean edge when you brush on the glue.
  3. Remove tape immediately after seaming. Masking tape does not age well.

Making the Seam

  1. Check to ensure your seams are oriented correctly prior to applying any glue (glue can be removed by careful rubbing with a soft, small solvent dampened rag if needed).
  2. Apply glue to the seam line of both pieces to be joined in a 1/2" wide strip along the seam line. Apply the glue evenly and not too heavily.
  3. The latex will curl when the glue is applied (much less if masking tape is applied to the back of the seam).
  4. Allow the glue to dry completely. The latex will uncurl in the process. This takes between 5 and 15 minutes.
  5. Once dry, remove both pieces and remove excess glue on the table by rubbing it up and then sweeping it away.
  6. Inspect the seams for inclusions (bits of dry glue, etc.) that will show up when the seam is joined. Pick these away with fingernails or tweezers.
  7. If the seam sticks to itself, peel away gently, clean up and smooth out the glue with a solvent dampened soft rag (rub gently), and re-glue if needed. When peeling stuck seams, peel from the inside where possible to avoid stressing the raw edge. This reduces the risk of accidentally splitting the latex.
  8. Set the 'bottom' piece (glue on the outside) flat on the table and orient so you can join the seam without shifting the pieces too much.
  9. Set the 'top' piece (glue on the inside) with the outside face up on the table, but folded over so that the glued inside edge is turned upward. Use your arm or an object to prevent the top layer from casually unfolding onto the lower layer being seamed. For small pieces it is simpler to just join the pieces.
  10. Position the top piece alongside the bottom piece so that top seam can be folded down into place a bit at a time.
  11. Begin at the appropriate start point (usually farthest from the hem or where four seams meet) and gently join an inch (2.5 cm) at a time without pressing down hard or stretching either piece of latex. Join so that the raw edge of the upper piece comes to the edge of the glue on the lower piece, but does not overlap it. Overlapping produces a 'pick point' where the seam can be split apart over time. Don't worry if a little glue shows up along the finished seam edge. This can be gently cleaned with solvent and a soft rag after assembly.
  12. When you finish a seam, the hem end may not meet exactly. If the mismatch is not severe, you can use any extra allowance to trim as required to make the hem even.
  13. Gently roll the seam with a brayer, about 4" - 6" (10 - 15 cm) at a time. This will set the seam bond evenly so that it doesn't bunch up when rolled more firmly.
  14. Roll a second time using firm pressure.

Optional Seam Reinforcing


Notes

The bond continues to strengthen over the next 24 hours. If the seam is good, give it that time before wearing. If you made a mistake, separate the seam now. The seam become more difficult to separate later. See the section on separating and reglueing seams for more details.


Curved Seams

All of the steps and tips that apply to straight seams also apply to curved seams, but with special considerations for the challenges this type of seam presents.

  1. On tightly curved seams, you may slightly stretch the top layer to make the seam. Remove any masking tape before working curves. As the curve takes shape, the latex will rise off the table a bit on either side of the section being worked. Work the seam smaller sections, concentrating only on the piece that maintains contact with the table. You may gently spread out (without stretching) the part of the seam currently being joined to prevent rippling of the curved seam.
  2. If you have really good hands, you can gently join both pieces 1/2" (1.3 cm) at a time using fingers on one hand to produce a curved cradle for the latex while joining with the other hand.
  3. When completed, consider reinforcing curved seams because the reinforcement gives the curve some body (reducing any rippling) and helps smooth out any irregularities caused by uneven stretch or pressure while joining.

Matched Seams

  1. Use the same techniques as for straight seams, except that you begin joining in the middle. Matched seaming is required when you have to mate four seams together (crotches, armpits) or when you need to have an equal amount of material on either side of a central point (collars started from the center back, set-in sleeves started from the top of the shoulder).
  2. Begin by taking the top layer to be joined (glue on the inside), and folding the seam to be joined back on both sides (glue side out) except for a point on the end of the fold exposed to match the desired point on the on the bottom layer. Join the center point on the fold to the lower half, then place one or more objects on one side of the running seam to prevent the top layer from unfolding to contact the bottom layer. Join the other side working away from the center join point. When complete, remove the objects preventing the first side from contacting and then join it beginning from the center join point and working outward.

Other Seaming Techniques


Welt Seam Characteristics

Welt seams:


Making Welt Seams

  1. Do not apply masking tape behind the seam glueing area.
  2. If you mask along the seam glueing area, mask at 5/8" (1.6 cm) away from the edge instead of 1/2" (1.3 cm).
  3. Prepare and glue your seam as usual and allow the glue to dry.
  4. Once dry, take the upper layer (glue on the inside) and beginning at one end, fold over a 1/8" (0.3 cm) hem and press down gently. Continue until the entire seam is complete.
  5. Roll out the "hem" when finished.
  6. Re-glue the upper layer seam to be joined again, including the 1/8" (0.3 cm) hem and allow to dry.
  7. Join the seam as if it were a lap seam.
  8. Reinforce from the inside with latex strips.


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