How To Sew A French Seam

French seams are my secret weapon for leveling up my sewing projects at home.  A french seam is when you sew an extra row of stitches to encase the raw edges. They can be sewn with a regular sewing machine, and it is a very quick way to make your projects hold up better through the wash and look as clean and neat on the inside as the outside. 

What is a French Seam?


French seams are best used with thin to medium weight fabrics, as the bulk of the material stays inside the seam. Some instances where I love to use them are inside pillowcases, on straight seams in children’s clothing, constructing the corners of crib sheets, and with chiffon or silk where edges would fray easily. French seams also work for gentle curves. 

So let’s get to it.

The steps to sewing your own french seam:

Step 1: Start by breaking the typical rule of sewing, and start with your WRONG SIDES together. I know it feels so wrong, but go ahead and do it!
Step 2: Now stitch your seam. Because you are essentially adding an extra seam, you should adjust your seam allowance to about ¼” less than your pattern instructs. For example, if the original pattern has a seam allowance of ½”, sew this first line at ¼”. If your pattern calls for a ⅝” seam allowance, sew this line at ⅜”.
Step 3: Trim the seam allowance to eliminate any excess bulk.  If you are sewing a corner, be sure you trim the corner as well so it will lay nice and flat.
Step 4: Iron this seam open. In the past, I have been known to skip over steps if I didn’t deem crucial… Do not skip this step! In order to get the professional, finished look you are trying to achieve with a french seam, iron this well. After you’ve ironed it open, then iron it Right Sides Together (RST).
Step 5:  It’s time to sew RST with ¼” allowance, or whatever seam allowance you are using. Now, the first line you sewed will be sandwiched, or hidden inside the casing. Iron your seam one final time! 

Creating a french seam takes a homemade DIY project to a professional, durable finished product. 

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