Thursday, September 22, 2011

Simple French Seam Tutorial

Why french seams you ask? Don't you have a serger?
Why yes, I do have a serger - And yes, it works and yes I can thread it.
But certain times I just prefer to use a French seam to finish my seams.

For example:
  • I like to use a French seams where a hem may be visible - like on the ruffled neckline and sleeves of a peasant top.
  • When I use a narrow hem, and I hem all my pieces before construction. (If I used serging construction then the serged seam allowance would go all the way to the edge and would really be visible & ugly. )
  • For something heirloom quality
  • If I want to make a tiny baby garment - less irritating on delicate skin
  • When I want the inside of a garment to be as pretty as the outside. 
  • With thin, delicate fabrics where you wouldn't want raveling to occur
  • On sheer fabrics where you could see the finished edge through the fabric.

I use French seams to completely construct a peasant top, no serging at all. It might take me a little bit longer than if I constructed the garment using a serger but I feel that the end product is worth the investment in time, both for the quality and the beauty of it. 

French seams can be seem intimidating if you haven't tried them before because sewing them goes against everything you know -  what? wrong sides together, huh?...  but once you sew one you'll be amazed at how simple it is. To help you along there is a tutorial I've made and posted below.  So give it a try, and feel fancy!

Somethings to know before you begin:
Sewing French seams can require a tiny bit of math to make sure your final seam allowance is correct.
 In the examples below I have a total seam allowance of 1/2 inch, so my first stitching line is 1/4 inch and my second is also 1/4 for a total of 1/2 inch seam allowance.
If I were using a pattern with a 5/8 inch seam allowance I would place my first stitching line at 3/8 and the second at 1/4 for a total of 5/8 inch seam allowance.
below I am using a straight stitch foot, a 1/4 quilting foot works great for French seaming too.

Step 1. Place fabrics WRONG sides together and sew using a 1/4 seam allowance

Step 2. Trim seam allowance to about 1/8 inch, careful not to trim too close to stitching

Step 3. Press the seam to set the stitches

Step 4. Open fabric and fold RIGHT sides together at the seam (your raw edge is now inside your fold) Press.

Step 5. Sew another seam, using a 1/4 seam allowance along the folded edge.
 (this seam encases the raw edges you sewed earlier)

Step 6. After pressing the seam to set the stitches
press your fabrics open

Step 7. Press the French seam to one side (usually the back)
and you are done with this seam!

See how nice it looks in a finished garment?
can you even see it? look close!

Ta Da! No raw seams!

Tutorial Originally posted 2/21/10 by Cherry Bubbins

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