Tuesday, October 28, 2008

French seam tutorial

This post is for Heidi, or anyone else interested in the technique. This is what I was taught was a french hem. But I have never read a sewing book so if I'm calling it the wrong name, feel free to correct me.

Okay, first you start with your two fabrics pinned together with the right side facing out:

Next you sew them with a 1/4" seam allowance. On my machine it's the width of my machine foot. (If you are using a knit, you always want to slightly stretch the fabric while sewing so the stitches won't break as you pull it over your head or wear it.)

Then trim the seam to approximately 1/8":

Now press. As a general rule of thumb, I always press seams toward the back:

Here's the inside after pressing:

Now pin again with your pins parallel to the seam. (Sorry for washing these photos out with my flash.)

Sew. I usually do just a tiny bit more then 1/4" here. Most patterns include 5/8" seam allowances, so this will make it exactly that amount.

And press again. I am big on pressing. That makes a difference between something that looks professionally made and something that looks home-made.

Here's the end result:

It takes a little more time but is great to do if you don't own a serger and like neat insides. Keep in mind you need a thin fabric to pull this off. I use it on jersey knits, shirting, shears, etc. I think denims work well also.


  1. I'M SO SPOILED! :) Thank you so much for the visuals. You made it super easy to understand. I think on my next project I'll be using this method. :)

  2. reading this post reminded me that youtube often has all kinds of tutorials... so i've spent the last 30 minutes or more looking at various sewing tutorials! so cool!

  3. Thank you for the tutorial. I have read descriptions of this before but it helps to see pictures. I'm thinking about trying this on the shirt I'm about to start.

  4. it even works with thicker materials when you're looking to make something you need strength in, like a bag. The classic tote tutorial over at sew, mama, sew! includes french seams - the first time i'd ever done them (and i cooed over them when i finished, kept turning the bag inside out so i could admire my neat handiwork. "Just like amanda's work!" I would crow to myself. LOL), and i have to admit, i do like them. i haven't tried it with clothes yet but i will do. thanks for the tips!

  5. Great tutorial. I have wondered how the french seam was done but never got into it.

    It´s so fun to check out your blog you always have something going on.



  6. They covered that in my sewing class the other week and I had to leave early. You just helped me catch up in your post. Thanks!

  7. I learned how to do French seams from the "Sew Everything Workshop" book, but have never seen it in action on clothing before. Thanks for sharing! Your work is meticulous and beautiful.

    A question about sewing with knits: When you say you slightly stretch it while sewing, do you mean stretch it parallel to the foot, or perpendicular?

  8. Melanie,
    Thanks! With knits, you stretch it parallel to the foot. This ensures that you don't get the stitches too tight where they break when you put it over your head. Alternatively, you can also use a very slight zig-zag stitch. But I always use the first method.

  9. Thanks-good to know! Sewing knits is a new thing for me.

  10. Thanks, You helped me quite a lot.

  11. Great job on this tutorial too! Well done!

  12. Great tute Amanda! I think I'll link to it on the blog!

  13. Thanks Amanda! I can't wait to try out the french seam instead of the other finishing techniques. As a beginner sewer, I'd love to see a visual heavy tutorial on how you use the bias tape on curved seams. ;-) . . .pretty please.

  14. Kris - Will do! But as I posted earlier today, I am going to be busy making costumes until the end of November. I'm not sure if I'll use that technique on any of them. But I hear ya! I've had several other requests for the same thing.