How to Sew French Seams
Imagine sewing a pair of silky pyjamas without freaking out about visible fraying seams!!!
It can be disheartening to finish a garment only to discover the seams can be seen through the fabric and they are an absolute mess…
If you sewing a delicate garment you may have discovered that slippery or delicate fabrics like silk, chiffon, or lace can be difficult to work with. Learning how to sew french seams will save you hours of heartache and frustration, trust me I’ve learned the hard way.
What are French Seams?
So you may be wondering what a French seam is? Well…A french seam is a clever technique used to enclose the raw edges of the fabric inside a garment.
This helps blend the seams in with the fabric, which is why this type of seam is perfect for sheer and delicate materials.
French seams are a great finishing option if you don’t own a serger and want to perfectly finish your garment seams off. This technique is perfect for delicate fabrics but it works really well with any weight, which is why I love french seams so much.
When to use french seams?
Let’s say you are going to sew up a Camille Top from our pattern shop and you have purchased a delicate silk crepe fabric. The Camille Top pattern doesn’t call for french seams but the fabric you are using easily frays and is quite lightweight. The best option would be to sew this top using french seams as the construction method to get a beautiful finish.
This is a perfect time to use french seams.
Other common situations to use french seams –
- Lingerie – delicate silk and lace underwear
- French knickers
- Silk bias cut dress
- Silk or lace cami
- Sheer garments
- Pillowcases – think repeated washing hiding fraying seams will help longevity!
How to sew french seams step by step
Step 1. Place the wrong sides of the fabric together.
French seams require sewing with the wrong sides of the fabric together first. Traditional sewing requires the right sides of the fabric together. Keep this in mind when sewing french seams so you don’t get too confused.
Step 2. Sew the seam. Keep the seam allowance 6mm less than the seam allowance included in the pattern.
If you are using a sewing pattern with a 1cm seam allowance I would recommend adding on 2mm. This will allow you to have enough seam width for the french seam, which you will understand more in the next few steps.
- 12mm seam allowance = Sew a 6mm seam leaving 6mm of the seam.
- 15mm seam allowance = Sew a 9mm seam leaving 6mm of the seam.
Step 3. Using sharp fabric shears or a rotary cutter, ruler, and mat to trim back the seam allowance leaving about 3mm from the stitching line.
Step 4. Press open the seam and then fold right sides together and press.
Step 5. Sew 6mm from the folded side of the fabric with the wrong sides together. This will enclose the raw edges of the previous seam inside and create a nice tidy french seam.
Step 6. Unfold and press everything nice and flat on the right sides. You will notice that the seam allowance is now on the wrong sides of the fabric.
Can you USE this seam for curved seams?
Yes, you can french seam curved seams but it can be a little bit tricky. I would only recommend this if you have had some practice with french seaming already.
If french seaming a curved seam confuses you – trust me I still get confused myself you can bind the seam instead. Bias binding is a great alternative to french seams as you won’t need to sew the seam wrong sides together. Then you won’t risk making mistakes.
I would definitely recommend cutting out some practice sleeves and armhole pieces before jumping into an actual garment to get your skills up to scratch first.
More on bias binding soon – I have been sewing myself a quilted jacket, which requires me to bind the seams so I plan to share this method of sewing with you soon.
If you would like to try sewing a Camille Top with french seams you can grab the sewing pattern here!
You can also practise sewing french seams by making this cute peplum cami top. Its a great project to use up smaller fabric scraps with.