How To Sew French Seams

Your french seam pressed to the back. It is important to press seams to the back in clothing especially.

If you’ve ever followed a sewing pattern, you may be familiar with the instruction ‘finish seams.’ Usually this means using a serger (which is a sewing machine that sews, trims and finishes the seams) or perhaps just trim them with pinking shears. Finishing seams might seam like a tedious step getting in the way of you and your finished item, but it is important and properly finished seams won’t unravel in the washing machine. If you don’t have a serger, like me, why not try using French seams when you’re sewing. Not only does it mean you are sewing and finishing the seams in one step, but it also makes your garment look so much neater and more professional. And it’s so easy to do!

1. Take the fabric that you’re working with and place it wrong sides together. That’s not a typo! This is the opposite to what you’ll be used to doing, but trust me, it’s going to turn out great!

See? Wrong sides together!

2. For regular 5/8″ seams, start by sewing, wrong sides together, a 1/4″ seam.

A 1/4″ seam – I’ve used bright pink thread so as it’s easy to see here.

3. Trim the seam to 1/8″. The easiest way to do this is just cut the seam allowance in half, rather than spend time measuring.

Trimming the seam allowance. Be careful not to cut your stitching!

4. Turn piece inside out and press the seam, making sure it is centred.

Nice centred pressed seam, not rolling to either side

5. Take your work to the sewing machine again and sew another 1/4″ seam from the pressed edge. It should enclose the first tiny seam you made.

Your second 1/4″ seam, this time right sides together.

6. Turn your work again and press the seam. And now you have lovely neat seams that don’t need to be finished with pinking shears and your work looks really professional!

The outside of your work
Your french seam pressed to the back. It is important to press seams to the back in clothing especially.
Your finished seam – there should be no threads of fabric poking through.

Now wasn’t that easy?! French seams are great for light to medium weight fabrics, but might add too much bulk to heavier fabrics. This is now my go to finishing technique, and once you’ve given it a go, there’ll be no reason why it shouldn’t be yours too! Every handmade item should look beautiful inside too and French seams are just the way to do it.

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Emma Murray
About Emma Murray 37 Articles
I'm a self-confessed geek girl who loves comic books, anime and Nintendo and is in no way one of the 'cool kids'. I'm mum to three mini geeks and am currently hiding out in my Batcave in Scotland.

1 Comment on How To Sew French Seams

  1. As a child we were made to sew a skirt and top with french seams ….it was by hand and we were about 10 ….if it were not straight, as my stitching never was, ….we had to unpick it and repeat the process until the teacher was satisfied or in my case, gave up. Although I love the finish and they make the garment stronger wearing …I really shudder at the thought of creating them ever again …even by machine.

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