Sewing Blog

Seam Series: How to Sew a French Seam Tutorial

French seams are perfect for lightweight and sheer fabrics, and are among the most popular of seam finishing techniques, as all the raw edges of the fabric are hidden in an elegant finished seam. It is also a great finish for seams that will be exposed, like an unlined jacket. French seams get a bad rap for being hard, but honestly they are incredibly easy.

The biggest hurdle is getting over the idea of sewing wrong sides together instead of right sides together at the beginning. It feels all backwards. Follow these easy steps and try French seams on your next project. You'll soon be saying, "Oooo! La la!"

Seam Series: How to Sew a French Seam, on Craftsy

 

How to sew a French seam: an easy tutorial

(Want to save this post? Click here to download the PDF version, PLUS enjoy four bonus tutorials for seams you'll sew again and again — absolutely FREE!)

Step 1:

Pin wrong sides together and place in the machine at 3/8" seam allowance.

Step 1: How to Sew a French Seam

Step 2:

Sew the entire seam at the 3/8" seam allowance.

Step 2: Sewing the Entire Seam at Allowance

Step 3:

Trim the seam allowance down to 1/8".

step 3

Step 4:

Open the seam, right side of the fabric facing up.

Step 4: Open Seam

Step 5:

Press your fabric: press the seam allowance to one side, on the right side of the fabric. Be sure to have your iron set to the correct heat for your fabric type.

Step 5: Sewing a French Seam, on Craftsy

Step 6:

Press on the wrong side to ensure the seam is flat.

Step 6: Pressing

Step 7:

Fold the fabric on the seam, right sides together. Press the seam flat with the stitching on the edge of the fold.

Step 7: Fold and Press the Seam

Step 8:

Pin the layers together along the pressed edge.

Step 8: Pinning Layers

Step 9:

Insert the seam into your sewing machine. Sew the quantity to equal the project’s seam allowance based on what you used in step 1. If you sewed at 3/8" and the seam allowance is 5/8" that means you should sew this step at 2/8” or 1/4".

step 9: Sew Seam

Step 10:

Continue sewing the entire seam, trapping the original seam and allowance in the fold.

Step 10: Continue Sewing - French Seams on Craftsy

Step 11:

Press on the wrong side of the seam, pressing the entire French seam to one side.

Step 11: Press Wrong Side of Seam

Step 12:

Press on the right side of the seam for a final pressing.

Step 12: Final Pressing

Enjoy your new skills and give a French seam a try on your next project!

enjoy

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27 Comments

Ladymax

Many thanks for this info. I have been using French seams for many years and found them very difficult. Now I know the correct way I will continue to sew them in a less difficult way.

Reply
Rosemary

I’ve always sewn the first seam 1/4 inch and the second 3/8 inch that way you are sscure that you have enclosed the seam. It saves the step of trimming down the original seam and although you end up with a slightly bigger seam on the inside, does it really matter?

Reply
Christine Haynes

It doesn’t really matter, as long as the final total is equal to that of the seam allowance. I personally prefer a smaller amount left on the inside, since with lightweight fabrics the part left is visible from the right side. But in the end it’s a personal choice.

Reply
gillian Sutherland

I enjoy reading this range of tutorials, as they reinforce the technique excellently with photos. I tried to tell a friend of mine what a french seam is, and I think she understood, but if I’d had this available at the time, I’m sure she’d have found it helpful, so I shall show this when I next see her.

Reply
Savannagal

That was a great tutorial. I only wish I could download it as a PDF for later viewing offline. Thanks much.

Reply
Nanz in KS

Try emailing it to yourself and keeping in a folder of sewing hints or Craftsy ideas.

Reply
Eve

Amusant : en France , on les appelle “coutures à l’anglaise” . Très bon tutoriel

merci

Reply
Linda Walsh

Great tutorial. Thanks for the info. For the person who wanted a .pdf – I’m saving the article to my crafting Evernote folder. Evernote is unbelievably easy to use and allows you to save the article for viewing later.

Reply
Bernadette

Savannagal, you can try and select all of the text on the page and copy that into a tool like MS Word. Newer versions MS Word will then allow you save it as a pdf.

Reply
Lori Thomas

What is an Evernote folder?

Reply
Ladymax

Thanks for sharing this great info. I have used French seams for many years, and now I know how to do it without all the bulk that I had. I love this for unlined jackets.

Reply
Diane

Can you use this technique in a curve, like a bag shape or hat shape for example?
thanks!!

Reply
Kimberley

Thank you for this wonderful tutorial! I’m preparing to make alterations to a second-hand wedding dress, which is kinda scary, as you can imagine! I’ll definitely be using this technique to keep it looking gorgeous and professional.

Reply
jan

This is a very useful demonstration and easy to follow. Is there a way that you can do a French seam on the edge of a quilt instead of binding it? I can see how to do three sides but what about the fourth when you can no longer turn things inside out? Is there a trick to doing this? Many thanks

Reply
Adi

I want to sew together two parts of the same material vertically and I am searching for the least visible technique to do it. It will hopefully be a curtain in the end and I want to hide the seam as much as possible.
Can you recommend the best technique for this.

Thank you in advance!

Reply
wilmo

so funny – in France we call these seams “english seam” 🙂

Reply
Elizabeth

I am a beginning sewer (working on garment #3). I decided I didn’t want raw fabric to show on some large, bell-like sleeves, so I tried sewing them on the outside first and then on the inside. Little did I know it was a French seam! What I learned from this great tutorial was how to cut down on the bulk of the seam. Thanks!

Reply
Betty Bannow

Thank you for the reminder of how to sew French seams.

Reply
Morgane

Oh that’s so funny !
I’m French and in French with call that seam “Couture à l’anglaise”, that means “English seam” ^^”

Reply
Cobbscout

I want to sew pillowcases and don’t want raw seams on the inside. The French Seam is a perfect solution. Excellent explanation and photos. Thank you.

Reply
Komkrit Klinkaeo

Great tutorial keep going.

Reply
Kelly Caufield

How come step 1 says to pin wrong sides together, but shows right side facing out?? I’m totally confused….!!!

Reply
Linda Garter

When wrong sides of fabric are pinned together the right sides of the fabric show.

Reply

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