April 22, 2013

How to Sew a French Seam

The french seam is often confused with the flat-felled seam, and while they can look similar, they are in fact two entirely different seam finishes with different purposes. The french seam is used more often in womenswear than in men's, and is a beautiful finish for thin or sheer fabrics. At some point in your sewing life, you're going to want to sew a french seam, so let's see how they're made: 

Step 1: Place your fabric pieces wrong sides together and sew a 3/8" (9 mm) seam allowance. Press the seam flat - pressing now will help set the stitches and make the coming steps easier. 

Step 2: Trim the seam allowance to approximately 1/8" (3 mm).

Step 3: Open up your fabric pieces and press the remaining seam allowance to the side. Because the seam allowance is so thin, you won't be able to get it to lay perfectly flat, but it will help you get a smoother, more accurate result in step 4.

Step 4: Fold one side over the seam allowance, making sure the fold is right on the seam. Press, using steam if necessary.

Step 5: Sew a 1/4" (6 mm) seam allowance. Press to set the stitches and get a smooth finish.

Step 6: Open up your fabric and press the seam to one side. 

What the seam looks like on the inside.
View of the seam from the outside.
The real key to getting a beautifully finished french seam lies in taking the time to press!!

As you can see in the last two photos, it does look similar to the flat-felled seam, but remember it is a different seam, with a different purpose. The french seam is perfect for lightweight, thin, or sheer fabrics. It is also a perfect seam finish for when a line of stitching on your project would detract from the print or overall design. Even though I used a contrasting thread for this tutorial, you can see in the last photo the stitching doesn't show on the outside at all!

Don't forget to share and leave your comments below! :)

Happy sewing,
Brian Hinson

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