Stitching two or more layers of fabric together is called seaming. It’s the basic skill needed for dressmaking and there are several different types of seams. The most important thing is that you stitch the same distance from the raw edges for a neat and even finish – luckily, your sewing machine has marks to guide you with this, and your pattern will tell you the seam allowance measurement to use.
French seams achieve a neat finish with the raw edges enclosed. They are stronger than plain seams and so are ideal for areas that will have more strain.
They’re best worked on lightweight fabrics as the extra bulk on the wrong sides (WS) may show through with heavier materials. They are stitched in two stages, from the RS and then from the WS. This may seem incorrect but it will all make sense once the seam is finished.
You Will Need
- Basic sewing kit
Stitching a French seam – first seam
Place the two pieces of fabric you want to seam with WS facing and pin together.
For the first stage, stitch the fabric together 1cm (3⁄8in) from the raw edges, remembering to backstitch at both ends.
Open up the fabrics and press the seam open. Turn the fabrics over to the WS and press the seam from this side as well.
Turn the fabric over again so the RS is facing up and press the two seams together lightly just to bring them together but without distorting your pressed open seam.
Trim both fabrics down so they are 3mm (1⁄8in) outside the stitched seam.
Stitching a French seam – second seam
Open out the fabric and refold it so they are RS together this time. Now move and roll the seam so it’s right on the edge. Then press the seam in place so it is perfectly on the edge. This will help to ensure the first seam does not shift when sewn.
Pin the fabrics together ready to sew.
Stitch the second seam through both layers of fabric, but this time sew 5mm (1⁄4in) from the seamed edge you worked in the first stage. This is further away from the 3mm seam allowance enclosed inside so the raw edge will not be visible when RS out.
Open out the seam and press it to one side. If you’re stitching this seam in a garment then you usually press it towards the back section so it won’t show at the front.
Turn the fabric over to the RS and press again for a neat finish.
And you’re done! Now you’ve learnt how to sew a French seam, you’ll be able to give a professional finish to all of your projects and garments.