How to…sew French seams (and why bother)

French seams encase the raw seam edges securely inside two seams. They’re necessary for delicate fabrics, because two seams are stronger than one and the two lines of stitching prevent fraying. But French seams also are fabulous for garments with simple, straight lines because they’re beautifully clean and neat, and need no more finishing. I’m hooked, mostly because I hate finishing edges.

Here’s the center back seam of BurdaStyle’s Minna top.

Take the seam allowance of the seam and divide it into two whole numbers. So a 5/8″ allowance becomes 2/8″ (1/4″), plus 3/8″.

1 measure seam allowance measuring seam allowance

Pin the pieces together wrong sides together.

2 pin wrong sides together pinned wrong sides together

Sew the smaller number first – the 2/8″ (1/4″) seam allowance. I’ve done so by using the 3/8″ guide, and setting the needle placement to the right.

3 sew 2 8 first first seam always should be smaller

Trim the raw edges, leaving 1/8″.

4 trim close trim so threads don’t poke through finished seam

Push the raw edges to one side, and press flat.

5 iron edges flat ironing while sewing’s a must

Now fold the fabric over at the seam, so the right sides are facing each other. Press and tack with a few pins.

6 fold fabric over and press take the time to press

Back at the machine, sew your remaining 3/8″ seam.

7 sew 3 8 sewing the bigger seam second leaves more room to catch edges and threads

Voila! A 5/8″ seam with no rough raggedy edges.

8 finished french seam French seam from wrong side


9 finished from right side And from right side

Check out the how to on Burda Style here.

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    • Raiye
    • June 14th, 2008

    You tutorial made it so easy! I have been making a simple pair of drawstring shorts for my mister to work around the yard and I just threw in French seams just because I could.

    Thanks!

  1. It’s so funny ! In France, we call that “English seams”.

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