French seams are sewn twice, encasing the raw edge within the seam. This creates a delicate and very neat seam, making it ideal to use for chiffon, silk, and other sheer and lightweight fabrics where traditional seam finishing techniques would display on the right side of the fabric. Likewise, they work really well on items that you have to wash several times, such as your pillowcases. 

If you’re looking for an easy way to learn how to sew a French seam, then you’re in the right place.

What Is A French Seam?

A French seam is a type of seam finishing that you can use in sewing where the raw edges on the inside are entirely encased in an extra row of stitching.

This creates a seam that is far more durable in comparison to other seam finishes. Moreover, you will be able to produce pieces of clothing that look as beautiful on the inside as it does on the outside.

Where Can I Use French Seams?

French seams are most commonly used on straight seams instead of curved You can use this seam finishing on corners with success as well.

French seams are most commonly used on straight seams instead of curved You can use this seam finishing on corners with success as well. But keep in mind that it is more suitable to apply in thin to medium weight fabrics. That’s because heavy fabrics tend to add an enclosed seam too much bulk.

You can apply a French seam for the following:

  • Pillowcase seams because you will wash these items repeatedly.
  • Sheer fabrics where the edge would fray and look unattractive.
  • Fine and delicate fabrics like chiffon and silk where overlocking would produce undesired bulk and show stitching through to the other side.
  • Linen seams where the edges would fray too much.
  • Straight side seams on children’s clothing. These clothes get washed often so it is important for the seam to be very durable. 

Step By Step Guide On How To Sew A French Seam

Step 1: Sew The Seam

Pin together the wrong sides of your fabric.

This is where you’ll see the biggest difference between sewing a regular seam and a French seam. Usually, you will begin with the right sides together when stitching a regular seam. On the other hand, French seams require that you begin with the wrong sides together. At first, this may seem a bit strange, but you will get used to it in no time.

Start stitching the seam. Make sure that your seam allowance is 1/4 inch less than what is specified in your pattern. If the seam allowance of your pattern is small and less than 1/2 inch, consider adding a little extra. 

  • For a 1/2 inch seam allowance, start sewing at 1/4 inch from the edge.
  • For a 5/8 inch seam allowance, start sewing at 3/8 inch from the edge.

Step 2: Trim The French Seams

Trim the seam allowance to 1/8 inch using a pair of sharp scissors. Doing so lets you achieve a nice, clean edge. Also, try as much as possible not to overhandle the raw edges in the next couple of steps to prevent them from fraying again.

When sewing French seams on a garment with corners, make sure to trim the corners diagonally as well as this can help reduce the bulk.

Step 3: Press The Seam Open

Press open the seam with the seam allowance on one side. Ensure that your seam is nice and flat. Apply an up and down pressing motion instead of pulling the iron along the seam.

Step 4: Press Right Sides Together

Fold your fabric in half, ensuring that the right sides together and with the seam on the edge. Then press using a iron. 

For the best results, check and that the seam is on the very edge and not to the side.

Step 5: Stitch French Seams

Sew a 1/4 inch seam again from the folded seam edge. You may want to use a 1/4 inch foot to help keep the width more accurate. 

The seam allowance you previously did will be sandwiched in the fold. It is necessary to sew accurately or you will get little tufts of raw edges poking through your seam.

Step 6: Do A Final Press

The last step you need to do is to again press the seam open. This time with the seam allowance on one side. Then, flip your fabric over and give the inside of the seam one final press so it will look nice and flat.

How To Sew A French Seam For Curves

Although it is best to use a French seam on straight seams, it is also possible to apply it on very gentle curves. If you are sewing sharp curves, it is a good idea to utilize a different seam finish such as bias bound or overlocking seams.

If truly want to use a French seam on a gentle curve, pay special attention to step 2 where you will need to trim as close as possible to the seam. Additionally, put some tiny clips into the seam allowance in step 2, ensuring that you are careful not to cut into the stitching line. 

French Seams On Pillowcase Patterns

Now that you have everything you need to know on how to sew a French seam, you can try testing your skills on pillowcase patterns. This type of seam works well on these because of how durable they are in the washing machine. Also, it’s a great sewing project for beginners. You can make your pillowcases unique and interesting by adding some trim or lace to the edge.

Final Words

Learning how to sew a French seam should not intimidate you. It’s very easy as long as you follow the step-by-step instructions we have here. In no time, you will be able to give your next project a professional French finish! How about trying French seams on the seam of a Taylor skirt?