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How to sew a french seam

How to sew a French Seam - by Orange Daisy Patterns

Ah, the French seam. So sophisticated, so couture, so professional. Beautiful on both sides, strong, and with all raw edges completely enclosed, the French seam is my favorite type of seam. I used them in the Girls Brook Blossom Skirt (ladies version, too) to give the skirt a beautifully finished interior. It’s the little things that take an article of clothing from homemade to handmade.

And French seams are not difficult to sew at all! The most difficult part of the whole process is remembering to start the seam off with the fabric wrong sides together.

French seams are best for light- to medium-weight woven fabrics, and are an especially great choice for sheers.


Step 1 French Seam Tutorial

Line up your two fabric pieces WRONG sides together. Sew the seam with at 3/8” (1cm) seam allowance. Press the seam as sewn to set the stitches.

Step 2 French Seam Tutorial

Right before you sew the next line of stitching, trim the seam allowance down to 1/8” (3mm).

Why wait until you are ready to sew the next line? In fact, why trim at all? Why not simply sew a smaller seam allowance the first time through, then a larger the next? I’ve done that before, and the problem is that sometimes little threads fray off of the fabric and poke out to the right side of the seam. Like so.

Frayed bits poking out of the seam

Let’s avoid that, shall we?

Finished french seam inside


Now you fold the fabric along the stitching line so that it is RIGHT sides together. (Back to normal!) Stitch 1/4” (6mm) away from the folded edge. Press the seam as sewn, then press to one side. The total seam allowance is 5/8” (1.5cm).

Oh, but what if the pattern calls for a different seam allowance than 5/8” (1.5cm)? You will need at least a 1/2” (1.2cm) seam allowance for a French seam, in which case you can sew the first seam with a 1/4” (6mm) seam allowance, then proceed as above.

Step 5 French Seam Tutorial

See? Super easy. It does take a little longer than a standard seam, but having such a lovely and long-wearing finish is so worth it.

Brook Blossom Girl Skirt Stand Alone Cover Brook Blossom Skirt Stand Alone Cover  You can purchase Jill’s pattern for the Girls Brook Blossom Skirt as a single PDF HERE or for the Brook Blossom Skirt (ladies sizes) HERE or visit her website to see more of her work HERE or purchase Issue 12 which contains this pattern HERE.

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