How to Sew a French Seam





Introduction: How to Sew a French Seam

About: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @jessyratfink to see what i'm working on! ^_^

French seams are not as scary as they're talked up to be. I promise! The most tricky part about a French seam is making sure you account for the right width in the seam allowances of your project!

French seams are amazingly strong, so they're great for purses, totes, clothing and all sorts of home decor items! They're especially nice for clothes - no rough edges against the skin. 

This is the easiest and quickest way I've found to do them - sewing 1/8 and then 1/4 inch seam allowances keeps you from having to spend time cutting extra fabric off, and also keeps you from having to account for a really large seam allowance.

Step 1: What You'll Need:

This is pretty simple. You'll need two strips of fabric, a sewing machine and an iron. :D

Step 2: First Line of Sewing

Take your two pieces of fabric and set them one of top of the other, wrong sides facing.

Sew an 1/8 inch from the right edge.

Step 3: Finger Press It Open

Unfold the fabric, and lay it flat in the table. Finger press the seam flat on the wrong side.

Step 4: Fold and Sew Again

After finger pressing, fold the fabric over so the right sides are facing. Make sure the seam we just sewed is right at the edge of the fabric.

Now sew down this seam again, using a 1/4 seam allowance. 

Step 5: Press and You're Done!

Now you'll want to press the fabric with an iron. Do it wrong side up at first, and press the seam allowance to one side. Then turn it right side up and press that flat. :D 

If you're making something that needs to be nice and flat, you can sew the seam allowance down after pressing, but I normally skip that part.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below!



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    11 Discussions

    Ok I totally get how to do the French seam on one side. Now how do I complete the other side??? I think I understand in my head but would love to see how the other side is done. Like if I were making a skirt??


    3 years ago

    Can u make a french seam by hand?

    1 reply

    I hope I have this correct, but, i want to ask to be sure. In step #3, you don't finger press the seam you just sewed opened up down the center ( with one side of the fabric pressed to the right side and the other side of the seam's fabric pressed to the left side). You finger press BOTH sides of the seam's fabric to the left. Is that correct?

    I guess I'm blind but I didn't see what the tutorial was showing me, I'm just as confused now as before reading.

    Oh I love French seams! I use them on any clothes I sew! Great tutorial!

    Very good tutorial. I've learn to do this seam some years ago, the funny thing is that in Italy is called "cucitura inglese", english seam. :)

    I'm a big fan of French seams for places you wouldn't think to use them -- such as in lined garments, where seam allowances wouldn't be up against the skin, anyway. The big advantage in a lined garment is that when you place wrong sides of "outer" fabric and liner together, you can force the excess of the seam in opposite directions when you sew the two together. Otherwise, if you just hit the allowances with pinking shears and don't force the allowance any particular way, if both allowances (outer fabric and garment) decide to go the same way, you get an unsightly bunch inside lining and outer fabric that can be impossible to get rid of. And often the lighter weight the fabric on the outside, the worse it looks. The classic example is the lined bodice of a dress, where the top seam seals the top and sewing the bodice to the skirt seals the bottom. And most dresses built like that are "formal" or "prom dress" styles where the outer fabric is usually something that demands a very smooth finish. So a French seam is pretty much a must in that situation.

    Neat! I love the fabric too! It's very retro whimsical!

    Thank you! Awesome clear instructions! I love learning more about sewing!!