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How to Sew a Flat-Felled Seam (Making a Shade Canopy)

To make our shade canopy, I needed to join two large 9′ x 12′ pieces of heavy canvas together. My research indicated a “flat-felled” seam would be the strongest for this type of sewing. The idea behind it is that it makes the join stronger ┬ábecause two lines of stitches get run through each piece of fabric (plus it hides the raw edges to prevent them from unraveling). It took a while to wrap my head around how to do this seam, so once I figured it out, I took photos of each step. Here’s how to do a flat-felled seam:

1. Place your two pieces of fabric (right sides together), but allow the bottom piece to stick out 1/2″ longer than the top piece. Stitch the two pieces together 1″ from the bottom piece (1/2″ from the top piece), as shown below:

Lay two pieces of fabric together, with the bottom extending out by 1/2" inch, and sew a line of stitching 1" in from the edge.


2. Flip the bottom piece out from under so the seam is lying flat, like this:

Flip the bottom piece out from under the top piece and lay flat


3. Lay the longer flap of the bottom piece over the shorter flap of the top piece, like this:

Lay the longer flap over the shorter flap


4. Now fold the longer flap over the shorter flap, and press flat, like this:


Fold the longer flap over the shorter flap


5. Sew a line to stitching to hold down the flap, like this:

Sewing the flap down


This is what the flat-felled seam looks like when finished:

A flat-felled seam

By the way, if you’re working with huge pieces of canvas as I am, you’ll find it difficult to maneuver all that material. So what I did was rolled up one edge of the canvas so it would fit into the sewing machine, and it worked very well. Here’s how I did it, in case it helps anyone else who is attempting to sew canvas with a regular, home sewing machine:

Roll or fold up one side of your material to sew the seam


By the way, I used a size 18 needle and extra-strength thread, and adjusted the tension on my sewing machine a bit, and it worked like a charm. No broken needles!

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3 Comments to “How to Sew a Flat-Felled Seam (Making a Shade Canopy)”

  1. Thank you so much. I am attempting to make an awning. My main concern is that it does not leak. So, I will try your instructions for a flat-felled seam.

  2. Mice description with good pictures. Shame you didn’t use a re-purposed 1919 singer with a hand crank, or the original treadle. The Pre-K has had fun with the hand cranks for two years in a row now. I have to figure out what this years project will be.

  3. Great tutorial! I, too, was wondering how to make a flat-felled seam, although I have hand-sewn something similar on my own clothes.
    I’m planning on making a canvas tent, or at least a canvas cover for a frame I have, and your tutorial has helped!

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