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Tutorial: How to create a french seam

french seam

French seams are wonderful for professional-looking, clean seams. The raw edge of fabric is essentially encased within the seam. They are perfect for light, delicate fabrics such as silk. This tutorial will produce a 5/8″ seam.

If you are making this silk scarf, you can use a french seam to join the two pieces of fabric end to end. While the seam will be visible, it will look very neat.

pin seam

Pin the seam, with the wrong sides together.

stitch seam

Machine stitch, using only a 1/4″ seam.

press seam

trim seam

Press the seam flat, then trim close to the seam.

press downward

Now press the seam downward.

turn and press

Turn the fabric, so the right sides are now together. To help turn the seam, it can be helpful to run the tip of a knitting needle along the inside of the seam. Press the seam.

stitch again

Stitch again, this time using a 3/8″ seam allowance. this will encase the raw edge.

press again

Press the seam downward to finish the seam.

finished seam

To finish the scarf, create a hand rolled hem along the four sides.

Sarai Mitnick

Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments

Sylvia Adams

December 1, 2008 #

Hard to see how you would make a rolled hem over the french seam. Would it not be better to do the rolled hem first, then seam the two pieces together. Or, cut the scarf running crossways (on the weft) so no seam is necessary.

Sewist

September 13, 2010 #

I thought the same thing. Personally, I’m not so sure that making a scarf with a French seam looks very good, although I enjoyed reading the tutorial.

Sarai

December 2, 2008 #

Sylvia: If you press the seam flat, it’s not too difficult. Personally, I think it looks better to do the seam first in order to make it less conspicuous, but obviously that’s up to the sewer. :)

As for cutting it on the crosswise grain, that’s an option as well, but the scarf would not be the extra long length pictured.

Elsie

March 11, 2009 #

You have given me courage ! I am making a dress for my 12 year old granddaughter and wanted to do a scarf, I am going to try this and hope it works. I had no one to ask and have not sewed many clothes since my own girls were young. Thank you I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Debbie

April 15, 2009 #

re ur french seam tutorial – thanks for the info but I just thought you should know that the link for “this silk scarf” is broken.

Sarai

April 15, 2009 #

Debbie, sorry you had trouble with it but the link appears to be working for me. Hmm.

Jeannette

April 22, 2009 #

I was looking up how to make a baby sling, and in the directions it says to use a french seam. I’m trying, but I still don’t quite understand what it is, and why this is the beat seam for holding in babies. I’m not saying your tutorial isn’t a good one, but I’m not sure I understand the seam. is there something I’m just not picking up on? I’m not a huge sewer, but I’d like to become one, and I’d just like to get this right. is there any easier way of explaining it to a new sewer?

Linda

March 12, 2011 #

Years ago, this seam use to be made by, by making a regular seam, cutting half of the width of one piece of the seam, turning piece that is left in half and lining it up with bottom of the piece you cut in half and sewing it together.

The new method, looks much easier to do.

Sarai

April 22, 2009 #

Hi Jeanette. A french seam is used basically to make your seams look neat, so there are no raw fabric edges showing. There’s no reason it’s better for holding a baby, except that it looks neater and perhaps will prevent stray threads from getting on the wee one.

Jeannette

April 27, 2009 #

thanks. I figured it out, and the sling is great! I sewed it down (like on the outer seam of jeans) and it’s working great.

Lisa

August 8, 2010 #

To Jeannette:

I think that when you fold the seam down and stitch the edge again it is called a “FLAT FELL” seam.

I really appreciate this description of french seams as I have not sewn since high school – about 30 years ago.

I want to use french seams in duvet covers I’m planning to make next week.

Renee

October 3, 2009 #

Debbie is right, the link is broken. You can probably see it because you’re logged into the blog. Try changing “.local” to “.com” in the URL.

Thanks for the tutorial!

Sarai

October 4, 2009 #

Thanks guys, the link should be fixed now. Sorry about that!

marie

November 22, 2009 #

Mmmm… Strange. In french, we call these english seams (!?).

Sewist

September 13, 2010 #

une couture anglaise

Sarai

November 22, 2009 #

Marie, that’s so funny. I wonder what they call a hong kong seam in hong kong!

Sylvia

March 12, 2010 #

Okay, what is a hong knog seam?

Sarai

March 13, 2010 #

A hong kong seam is a name for a seam in which each raw edge of the seam is encased in bias binding. It’s very labor intensive but a wonderful finish!

Sylvia

March 13, 2010 #

Thanks for describing a hong kong seam and for not pointing out that I transposed my letters in kong.

Dora

March 17, 2010 #

Ooh, thank you! Wonderfully clear instructions!

Ashford

July 1, 2010 #

Can you use a French seam in the side seam where you have a bust dart?

Sarai

July 1, 2010 #

You absolutely can. I suppose the only exception might be if your fabric is bulky, but french seams are normally used on very light fabrics, so bulk shouldn’t be a big issue I wouldn’t think.

Sewist

September 13, 2010 #

Sure. The next time you’re at a store look at some nice women’s blouses.

JuliW

December 1, 2011 #

Sarai, thanks for the french seam tutorial. I have a length of silk chiffon that I’m going to use to make a blouse. It has a tendency to ravel and I had been considering how to keep that to a minimum in making the top. The french seams and hand rolled hem will do that beautifully.

hanna

April 4, 2012 #

how is this different to a flat seam??

nubbystubby

August 6, 2012 #

I sewed for a handbag company that utilized french seams often. I love the french seam and I also love the hand sewn rolled hem. Hand sewing is my preference, so I will definitely be using it to make scarves from large remnants I purchased that were marked down. Thank you for the great instructions!!!

Kaylee

September 13, 2012 #

I Still Don’t Know How To Do It And If I’m Supposed To Use Two Fabrics Although I Am Using Calico.

Carolyn Bernd

September 13, 2012 #

Thank you for reminding me how to do a French seam with your easy to follow tutorial here! I found it when I Googled French seam, and will look at your patterns when I have more time!

kate

September 19, 2012 #

Thanks! Great tutorial! I also was looking up another tutorial that told me to use a french seam to finish off a baby wrap! I sew quite a bit, but had never known the term for a french seam.

Linne

December 24, 2012 #

French seams are great for baby wraps; they keep the raw threads out of baby’s reach. They also make for a stronger seam, which is a good thing, as babies seem to grow amazingly quickly, getting heavier all the time!

Trish

March 3, 2013 #

Thank you for such an ‘idiot-proof’ explanation to french seams. I have recently got myself a sewing machine and want to encourage my daughters to take up machine sewing too and your tips and hints have been great :)

Trudy

August 16, 2013 #

Thanks so much! The little bags I’m making are sooo much nicer now! Legend. Is this also called a flat seam? What is a flat-felled seam?

Lanetta

September 16, 2013 #

Another fabulous tutorial! Thank you for taking the time to create and share! In today’s article, I put a link so my readers could also find you!
http://lanettascreations.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-art-of-seaming.html

Mary Ann Preckol

June 18, 2014 #

No matter how I try I just can’t seem to catch on to the French sea, any tricks or a new and better method?