Sewing Tips: French Seams (a clean finish for your raw edges)
I haven’t done this in a while but it’s time to answer another sewing ‘Frequently Asked Question’. And that is, “how in the world do I make one of those fancy French Seams??“ Some of you may already know how to do this, some may have forgotten how (and this is a good refresher), while others have no idea this sewing technique exists!
You know, there is a difference between rushing through a project and cutting corners, and then taking your time to make everything look nice, inside and out. I admit, I’m usually, the rushing/cutting corners type-of-person. I like to make things, but don’t always have enough time to spend lots of time making everything perfect. However, on certain occasions, I really like to make things really pretty, inside and out. I tend to take more care when I’m using expensive fabric, making a gift for someone else, or if I’m making a keepsake for my own children (blessing/baptism outfit, quilts, etc.) And then I try and use a more finished seam, like the French Seam.
HOWEVER, when sewing with really sheer fabric (and fabrics that fray a TON), this seam is ideal. It hides raw edges completely, it keeps all the fraying enclosed, and it will save you from some frustration while sewing things like sheer drapes, a sheer overlay to a dress, etc.
So, tuck this technique away, and use it when you’d like to really make something super polished………or when it’s NEEDED.
Now, think for a second…….about those sometimes raggedy edges of your inside seam allowances. Especially, wash after wash after wash.
Now, imagine them all completely closed up and not a single stray thread in sight, inside and out.
It really is a pretty little edge. It can’t be used on curves……but it looks gorgeous on all those straight seams.
French Seams……..oh, how you make my sewing looking amazingly professional! :)
Ready for the good news?? It’s pretty stinkin’ simple.
Let me show you…
First of all. line up your two edges that you want to sew together using the French Seam……but place the edges together with WRONG sides together. I know, weird. But you’ll see why in a moment.
Now, determine your seam allowance. A common seam allowance is 5/8 of an inch. So, if that’s the allowance given for your project, keep that in mind. You will be sewing two different seams to create your French Seam, so split that allowance into two, 2/8 of an inch and 3/8 of an inch. You want one of the seam allowances to be smaller and will use that seam allowance first. ALWAYS.
Sew the two layers together, using the 2/8 (or 1/4) inch seam allowance.
Then, open up your fabric to the “wrong” side of the fabric, and iron flat.
Then, fold the fabric together with the “right” sides together. Fold the fabric right along the seam you just made.
And then iron flat.
Now, with the “right” sides together, sew your 2nd seam allowance of 3/8 of an inch. What just happened, is that you are now enclosing the raw edges of the first seam (shown as the black dotted line), inside of this new seam. And this is why the first seam allowance needed to be smaller than the first…..so that it would fit inside of this second seam and not poke out. Otherwise, this whole technique is useless. (TIP: If you are using different seam allowances than the ones shown here, you can always cut down the extra fabric from your first seam, so that it will fit into the second seam.)
Now, open up your fabric to the “right” side, and iron the fabric open.
And that’s it.
A pretty little French Seam.
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