What is a French Seam?
French seams are a technique that conceals the raw edges of fabric within a row. Hidden seams are both aesthetic and functional. They create a soft, rounded outline that provides extra support. The French seam is both elegant and durable and works well with light- and medium-weight fabrics. This stitch can be used to create straight seams in sewing projects, but you can also use it to make curved seams.
Three Uses of French Seams
French seams are perfect for:
- Delicate fabrics: A French seam is recommended for lightweight fabrics such as chiffon, organza or sheer.
- You can use the French: Seam to make interior decor sewing projects. It is durable and can be used for quilting, pillowcases and curtains.
- Unlined clothing: A French seam hides the edges of fabric. This technique is ideal for garments that have no seams like unlined jackets. This type of seam can be used to make a dress, skirt, or pants look professional and elegant.
How to sew a French seam in 9 steps
You will need two pieces fabric, scissors and a set pins to sew a French seam. This step-by-step tutorial will show you how to make a French seam.
- Prepare your sewing machine. Adjust the stitch size to match the instructions on the sewing pattern. Next, thread your machine with a color that matches the fabric.
- Pin your fabric pieces. Place your material pieces together, with the wrong sides facing each other. The right side (the one that will be visible on the final product) of your fabric should be facing upward. Pin the fabric pieces together, placing pins every few inches at the stitch line. To make it easy to remove the pins as you move the fabric under your sewing machine, place them perpendicularly to the seam line.
- Mark your seam allowances. Use a fabric marker, or a pencil to mark your seam allowances. Your seam allowance for a French seam should be one quarter inch less than your pattern’s seam allowance. If your pattern has a five-eighths seam allowance, subtract one quarter inch to calculate your French seam allowance. In this instance, it would be three-eighths. To determine the second seam allowance (which in this instance would be one-eighth) for a French seam, subtract a quarter inch.
- The first seam is sewn. Place the pinched fabric pieces under your sewing machine’s needle. Move the fabric gently under the needle. Then, remove the pins and sew over the fabric. This will prevent the needle from becoming stuck or being damaged by pins.
- Ends of the fabric should be cut. Use scissors to trim excess fabric pieces beyond the seam. Leave the second seam allowance. Sharp scissors are best as dull scissors can cause fraying and damage to the ends of your fabric.
- Iron the seam line. Lay your garment flat on a surface. Iron both sides of your fabric. After pressing the seam flat, fold both pieces so that the right side of the fabric faces in.
- Pin the seam line. Place your pins parallel to the seam line and pin the wrong side of the fabric together. You can use fewer pins to sew the second seam because the fabric is already secured.
- The second seam should be sewn. Use the second seam allowance marker to guide you as you gently glide the fabric under your sewing machine. The second line of stitching secures your fabric’s edge between the first seam and the second seams.
- Iron the second seam. Place your fabric on a flat surface. Iron the seams a second time. Smoothen the garment by pressing the seam on the side you prefer.