A taped seam is pretty self-explanatory: A seam on a garment, with tape applied to it from the inside. Not a complicated concept, we’ll admit. But there’s a little bit more to it than all that. First off, we’re not talking about the same tape you just used to wrap up all those holiday presents. In some instances, we’re simply referring to a fabric—cotton twill, grosgrain, ribbon, what have you—that’s used to cover and reinforce the seam. In others, the tape is actually a whole lot closer to the stuff you see on your desk or in your toolbox. Synthetic and non-porous, it looks like you could use it to tack together a couple of pieces of paper or wrap a leaky pipe. Of course, you can’t—which brings us to the utility seam taping.
When you’re using cloth, it’s partly done to improve the look of the finished product. Covered seams look cleaner, even if they’re only visible to the wearer. But taping is also serves a practical purpose: It prevents stretching and protects against abrasion, thereby increasing durability while simultaneously ensuring a piece of clothing keeps its shape over its extended lifespan. Synthetic tape, on the other hand, is largely used to waterproof a garment. Why? Well, even if your favorite ski jacket is crafted from completely impermeable fabric, the hundreds of tiny needle holes created by sewing a seam together aren’t exactly watertight. The solution: Heat sealed tape fused to the fabric around the seam, which effectively bypasses the leaky holes. It decreases the breathability of the garment somewhat, but when the options are a couple extra beads of sweat or a veritable torrent of rainwater coming in at your shoulders, well, we think it’s an easy call to make.