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How do you finish off top of a seam when machine stitching?

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I'm working with 4-5oz veg tan to make bags and purses, and I'm machine sewing.

I'm trying to figure out the "proper way" (most long lasting for durable bags, but also looks good) to finish the top of a seam in two instances: (And by finish the seam, I mean in terms of sewing, not in terms of burnishing/painting, etc.)

1) When sewing a gusset, for example at the top of the front panel on a bag: 




2) When sewing an overlapped seam, for example, the top of a side seam on a tote bag: 


I've seen some videos where people leave long tails of thread on the seam and then hand stitch / tie off, though I'm not clear on exactly how to do that, or if it's the best option. My instinct in both instances is to start the seam a little bit below the top edge, backstitch 2-3 stitches as usual, and continue on, making sure that the thread doesn't wrap over the top edge (which it does in both of my example photos), because exposed thread at the top edge could get worn down and break over time. However, this means that the top millimeter or two of leather won't be stitched. Is that okay? I will be gluing the seam before stitching, so maybe that will be enough to hold it together.

What do you think? How is this ideally done? My goal is a professional-looking and strong seam.

Edited by SewMuchToLearn

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IMHO I think that application is a perfect situation to leave 10-12” of extra thread and saddle stitch the last 2-3 stitches.  Since this termination is a high stress location and machine lock stitches are weak at the termination, I would not want to rely on a backstitch and glue alone at the end of the gusset.  

I would saddle stitch over the termination of the gusset at least twice giving four threads to fray or break before the gusset is compromised.  

The easiest reference for saddle stitching is Al Stohlman’s The Art of Hand Sewing Leather.  Easily found in reprint paperback on eBay or Amazon.  https://a.co/d/42XuXNL  

There’s also a lot of good YouTube tutorials but they can be hard to follow since they’re really fast at stitching and make it look too easy for the beginner.   

Edited by Joon1911
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