French seams are a simple and versatile way to create strong, professional-looking seams in any sewing project. A French seam uses two lines of stitches to encase the raw, unfinished fabric edges within the seam itself, which hides the edges from view, prevents fraying, and creates a clean and elegant look that’s perfect for anything from trousers and jeans to delicate foundation garments and lingerie. I use French seams just about every time I sew — especially when I want to be sure that fabric won’t unravel when a finished piece is worn or used. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to utilize the French seam method in your own sewing projects!
Fabric pieces to be sewn Before starting an important project, first try the method out on two rectangular pieces of scrap fabric.
Fabric clips or straight pins
Rotary cutter or fabric scissors
Iron and ironing board
Sewing machine Hand sewing is also fine.
Before we get started, please note that I used a standard ½” seam allowance for this tutorial. If you are working with a pattern that has a seam allowance that is larger or smaller than ½”, you can increase or decrease the measurement in Step 5.
Step 1: With the WRONG (unprinted) sides of the fabric facing, align the edges of the fabric to be sewn together. Use fabric clips or straight pins to hold the pieces in place.
Step 2: Use your sewing machine to sew down the length of the fabric edge with a ¼” seam allowance. This line should be sewn on the RIGHT (printed) side of the fabric.
Step 3: Align the quilting ruler on the seam that you stitched in Step 2, then use a rotary cutter to trim away the excess fabric on the edge of the seam, getting as close to the seam stitching as possible.
Step 4: Once the extra fabric has been trimmed away from the seam edge, open the connected pieces of fabric and use an iron to press the seam between them open. Next, fold the the fabric pieces together at the seam with RIGHT (printed) sides facing and press the folded seam closed.
The two pieces of fabric should now be folded together at the seam, and the unfinished edge should be sandwiched between them.
Step 5: With a ¼” seam allowance, sew along the folded edge, enclosing the unfinished edges between the two layers of fabric.
Step 6: To finish, open the folded fabric, then press the seam open on the RIGHT (printed) side of the fabric. On the WRONG (unprinted) side of the fabric, press the folded edge of the seam flat to one side.
That’s all there is to it. Now, go forth and sew French seams to your heart’s content!
About the Author:
Haley Pierson-Cox is a Brooklyn-based craft writer who loves granny glasses and loathes extraneous apostrophes. She blogs about crafts, cats, domestic bliss, and DIY goodness at The Zen of Making.