French Seam Tutorial Polaroid

Tutorial: French Seams

February 13, 2013 · 19 comments

French seams are without a doubt my absolute favourite seam finish. I actually get a little bit upset when I am working on something where they are not appropriate. They really finish off a garment so beautifully and I am completely pedantic about the inside of my garments.

Obviously there are other finishing techniques that also give a lovely result but I actually think that French seams can be quicker and less fiddly than most once you get the hang of them.

You can use a French seam on any lightweight garment and they are particularly good for sheer or semi sheer fabrics. They completely enclose all the raw edges and are really nice and durable which is comforting if you are working on something that is a little bit more delicate but still likely to get worn and washed often.

If you have never done a French seam before they can look a little bit baffling. But follow these simple little steps and you’ll be using them on everything in no time!

Three key sewing rules to keep in your head before embarking:

1. 99% of the time the seam allowance on your pattern will be 1.5cm or 5/8″.

2. When sewing most seams you stitch the fabric with right sides together.

3 When doing a French seam you will initially appear to be breaking both these rules!

Start by marking your pattern pieces 1.5cm from the raw edge either with tailors chalk or a long machine basting stitch.

French Seam Tutorial Step1

Next place your pattern pieces WRONG SIDES together and pin.

French Seam Tutorial Step 2

French Seam Tutorial Step 2a

Stitch with a regular machine stitch 1 cm from the raw edge.

French Seam Tutorial Step 3

Next, trim your seam allowance a few mm away from this recent machine stitching.

French Seam Tutorial Step 4

French Seam Tutorial Step 4b

Press your very small seam allowance to one side- (doesn’t matter which!)

French-seam-5

French Seam Tutorial Step 5b

Fold your fabric so that the RIGHT SIDES are touching and finger press down the seam. Then press this seam with the iron.

French Seam Tutorial Step 6

French Seam Tutorial Step 7

Using a regular machine straight stitch sew right next to your chalk line/machine basting. If you have used basting stitches try where possible not to sew directly on top of them as it will make it harder to remove them.

 

French Seam Tutorial Step 8

Remove your basting stitches.

Open put your pattern pieces and press your french seam to one side on the wrong side of your work.

French Seam Step 9

Turn your work over and press it on the right side

French Seam Tutorial Step 10

 

C’EST TOUT! A lovely French seam!

Now just for fun after all that hard work here are some of my other favourite French related things!

french-stuff-i-love

‘The Paris Wife’- fantastic novel about Ernest Hemmingway’s time in Paris told from the perspective of his first wife, Hadley. Some pretty French fancies! A very cute French poodle and ‘Little Paris kitchen’- Rachel Khoo’s AMAZING recipe book filled with delicious French yumminess!

Aurevoir! Hope this tutorial comes in handy :o

 

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Ginger February 14, 2013 at 1:46 am

Oooh, how do you like the Little Paris Kitchen cookbook? I love her blog!
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Ami February 15, 2013 at 5:30 pm

The book is amazing!!- I have only got round to cooking a fraction of the recipes I want to from it so far- they all look delicious. Did you see her program? Xx

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Gill February 16, 2013 at 12:07 am

Found you from WeSewRetro and have been reading back on your blog, and really impressed with the things you’ve made and your painstaking approach and professional techniques. I think I will have to make you my inspiration – although I love stitching, and especially machine embroidery, I’m afraid I’m a bit of a slapdash dressmaker. But no more!! Maybe.

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amelialowden February 20, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Aw thank you so much Gill- I just had a good old read of your blog and I am now your newest follower :o) Xx
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Fiona February 17, 2013 at 1:04 pm

French seams are absolutely my favourite too!
I’ve been really enjoying your blog and have nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award, there’s a post about it on my blog http://chainstitcher.blogspot.co.uk/
Cute pooch too!
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amelialowden February 20, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Thanks sooo much Fiona! I just left a comment over on your blog!xx
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Andrea T February 25, 2013 at 7:10 pm

I’m getting ready to make a skirt with a Japanese cotton and a silk charmeuse lining. I know I can use this technique for a the lining, but will it also work well on the cotton?
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Ami February 25, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Hey Andrea! Wow your Craftsy dress bodice is looking amazing! Can’t wait to see the finished article! I love Craftsy! Such a good site!
Yep I think French seams would work fine on Japanese cotton. Maybe to be on the safe side you could do a sample seam on a scrap of the fabric and just assess whether you think the seam is coming up particularly bulky. I doubt it will!
Also- French seams are best avoided in particularly curved seams but the gentle curve of a skirt is fine :o
Xx
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Heather May 29, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Just had to say how easy to follow your instructions are! I was left scratching head after reading other instructions, stumbled across your blog and ta dah!

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amelialowden June 10, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Ah thanks Heather! I’m so pleased to hear that!:)
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Knitcave May 30, 2013 at 6:39 pm

I’ve been sewing for my niece and was unhappy with the inside of the first dress I’ve done today.

I saw your French seam tutorial. You have made them really simple and m first attempt looks so polished. They are much quicker than zig zagging a seam.

Thank you so much. I’m now going to follow your blog so I can read everything.

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amelialowden June 10, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Thanks so much, so happy to hear that the tutorial was simple to follow :) Yep I also far prefer them to finishing seams with an overcast or zig zag! Much nicer looking!
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Ann Barnes June 14, 2013 at 8:18 am

I in the planning stage of making my first ‘big’ garment and picked up the pattern yesterday, only to find, FRENCH SEAMS mentioned….aaaarrrgh. My husband rescued the the Vogue pattern (£14.95) from the bin and suggested I try the internet and THERE YOU WERE. Brilliant tutorial. Am a bit worried about having to mark the 5/8″ seam first with machine basting stitch (there are a lot of seams), but am going to try using a tailor’s pencil on a bit of spare fabric to see if this works. Not sure if I can print your instructions, but will have a go so I have them by me when I am sewing. Ann x

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amelialowden June 14, 2013 at 8:33 am

Hehe- rescued it from the bin! I think we have all been there at various stages with sewing projects!
It’s not essential at all for you to mark the 5/8″ first. That part of the instructions was more about people understanding the importance of ending up using the whole 5/8″ seam allowance up and a way for them to know they had. If you start by doing some practise seams on scraps then you can mark it up on them to make sure you’re ending up on the 5/8 line but you should be able to bypass that step on your final garment! :)
What are you making?! I’m sure French seams will make it nicer whatever it is!!
I was thinking of formatting my tutorials into printable PDFs and now you’ve mentioned the printing thing I think I will!
Happy French seam-ing Ann :)

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Ann Barnes June 17, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Hi Amelia – have a look at Vogue 1274; a lovely billowing shirt (for a lovely billowing body)!!! The blurb on the pattern says it is EASY – the back of the jacket has scared me to death, but I am determined now. I did actually manage to print your instructions in the end and, while waiting for some fabric swatches (Truro Fabrics – amazingly helpful…just like you) will start practicing French seams on bits of scrap to keep my hand in. By the way, my other favourite French things are beef bourguinion, moules marinier, a slab of brie and a decent Cote de Rhone – hence the need for a pattern that goes up to rubenesque proportions. xx Do you put your pattern markings on interfacing – it seems that, once i have marked the pattern, by the time I’ve ironed on the interfacing, all the marks will be obliterated…just a thought> x

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amelialowden June 17, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Wow that’s an awesome jacket! Are you going with view A or B?
Hehe yum! Especially the Cote de Rhone or petty much any red wine for me actually! And croissants…!
When I am cutting out panels that need interfacing I don’t mark them initially, once I have cut them out and applied the interfacing I pin the pattern piece back on and mark them with tailors tacks or chalk as one. Bit long-winded unfortunately!
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Ann Barnes June 17, 2013 at 3:56 pm

View B in a cotton/linen blend in the first instance (cheaper than linen and with half the creasing problems). I got a little swatch of BEAUTIFUL lime green linen, but it creased coming out of the packet! Additionally, I think I would run the risk of resembling a large green building – I am rather less Jerry Hall and more Albert Hall in shape :) Good tip about re-applying the pattern after ironing on the interfacing; at least that way, bits of tailors tacks don’t get stuck twixt facing and interfacing – ANOTHER great tip. Thanks matey. xx

Isidore Sanders July 21, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Thank you so much. I have tried for ages to get french seams right and your pictures are so perfectly clear.

Never again shall I have messy seams. Merci!
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Rachael October 20, 2013 at 10:43 am

This is a really easy to follow and really useful tutorial. I always like to try and make the inside of my sewing as neat as the outside and this is really going to help me do that. Thank you.

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