Arrow Fat Left Icon Arrow Fat Right Icon Arrow Right Icon Cart Icon Close Circle Icon Expand Arrows Icon Facebook Icon Instagram Icon Pinterest Icon Twitter Icon Translation missing: en.general.icons.vimeo Icon Youtube Icon Hamburger Icon Information Icon Down Arrow Icon Mail Icon Mini Cart Icon Person Icon Ruler Icon Search Icon Shirt Icon Triangle Icon Bag Icon Play Video
Nerdy sewing tips - French seams

Last week we started talking about the importance of paying attention to the little details when making our own clothes in order to achieve a professional finish and ultimately, a better made and longer lasting garment. We went through three basic techniques for finishing your seams: overlocking/serging, pinking and binding. Today, dear readers, we have for you la crème de la crème of seam finishes...

A French seam is the neatest, most elegant seam there is, in my opinion, though I'm sure most would agree. Typically applied when working with sheer silks or lace when it would be most disgraceful to see any other finish such as overlocking showing through, French seams essentially hide the excess seam allowance by sewing it in on itself. It's actually a lot simpler than it sounds. This technique does not only have to be limited to sheer fabrics however; any fabric (that's not too heavy) can be Frenched, and any garment Frenched throughout will always be far superior as a result.

Step 1

Let's assume you're stitching up the side seam of a skirt, with the standard 5/8" or 15mm seam allowance. First, with wrong sides together, close your side seam with a 1/4" seam allowance - or simply match up the raw edge of your fabric with the edge of your sewing machine's foot.

Step 2

Trim the excess seam allowance with pinking shears - don't get too close to the stitching though! - and press the seam back with right sides together. Pin into place. You can see how neat this is going to be now, can't you? Salivating yet? We are.

Step 3

Back to your sewing machine, and now with a 3/8" seam allowance, close your seam. If you can add fractions you'll see that by sewing the first seam with a 1/4" allowance (or 2/8"), and now with 3/8", we have closed the seam with the required 5/8" seam allowance. Now press your perfect seam to one side (towards the centre back usually if making a garment), et voilà!

x Elisalex

Comments on this post (5)

  • Mar 05, 2015

    French seams are really only useful if they are narrow and used on fine fabric. On anything else they look clumsy and add to much thickness to the seam area. Most seams need to be ironed open to get rid of excess bulk and any neatening should take this into account.

    Serging looks messy uneven and unattractive in my opinion and also unravels just like shop bought goods do. It is also a waste of thread.

    — Sandra

  • Sep 05, 2012

    Nice, simple tutorial… French seams are the best and look great inside an unlined jacket :)

    — Anne Penfold

  • Sep 05, 2012

    We couldn’t agree more! :)

    — byhandlondon

  • Sep 14, 2012

    really cannot wait to try this seam!

    — punkmik

  • Sep 03, 2012

    L-O-V-E french seams! They make everything so nice and sturdy =D

    — 7cakes

Leave a comment