When should you use a French seam?
French seams are perfect for use on lightweight or sheer fabrics, encasing all of the fraying fabric edges inside a tiny seam allowance of 1/4″ (5mm). French seams can be fabulous to use if you haven’t got an overlocker (serger) and want to create a perfect finish to your garment.
French seams work best on light to medium weight fabrics, as heavier fabrics can produce bulky seams. Although they can be used around the arms eye to great effect they don’t work as well on curved or shaped seams.
This tutorial shows how to create a French seam with a 5/8″ (1.5cm) seam allowance. If you have a different seam allowance you will to amend your seam allowance to 5/8″ (1.5cm).
Watch our corresponding YouTube tutorial: How To: Sewing French Seam.
Let’s get started!
Start by pinning your fabric WRONG sides together (I am working with a printed fabric so you can clearly see the wrong and right side of the fabric). Pin along the edge you wish to sew.
Sew 3/8″ (1cm) away from the seam allowance on the sewing machine. I am working with a alternate thread colour to make it easier to see.
Press the seam flat to meld the stitches into the seam. Press the seam open.Trim the seam allowances to 1/8″ (3mm). The seam allowances MUST be trimmed to 1/8″ (3mm), as next we will sew a 1/4″ (5mm) seam. If the seam allowances are not trimmed small enough, they will protrude through the final seam.
Place the fabric RIGHT sides together and press flat so that the previous stitching line is located along the edge of the fabric. Pin in position if required.
Sew 1/4″ (5mm) away from the previously stitched seam (now the folded edge).
Press flat to meld the stitches into the fabric and then press the seam allowance towards the BACK of the garment.