Seam finishes: French Seams

As I used French seams on the last vintage blouse, I thought it was time to take photos of the process and add this tutorial to the list of seam finishes.  It’s a lovely finish on fine fabrics, particularly if the fabric is transparent.  I always use it on my Liberty tops, it just seems right.

With French seams, you start by sewing the fabric wrong sides together.  The aim is to make a neat, enclosed seam on the inside of the garment, using your existing seam allowance.  This top had a seam allowance of 1.5cm so first off, sew a 1cm seam, wrong sides together.

Sewing a 1cm seam.

Sewing a 1cm seam.

Now you’re going to trim this allowance to just under 5mm, my tutor used to say 3mm.  Once trimmed, press the allowance to one side, making sure it’s a nice sharp press.  Then turn the fabric over and press from the right sides too to make sure it’s done properly.

Trim & press well.

Trim & press well.

Now you’re going to fold the fabric along that seam line, right sides together.  Make sure the seam is on the fold, pin in place and press to ensure there is no bouncing back of the fabric which makes an uneven seam.

Seam along the top of the fold - press.

Seam along the top of the fold – press.

You are now going to encase the narrow, raw seam allowance.  Sew a 5mm seam now, shutting the raw edge within.  If you’ve done this successfully, there will be no fluffy bits of thread sticking out of the finished seam.  Once sewn, press the folded allowance to one side, I generally press to the back of the garment.

The last part, sewing a 5mm seam to encase the raw edge.

The last part, sewing a 5mm seam to encase the raw edge.

And that’s that!  It really is a great finish to use on both vintage and modern garments, strong and long lasting.  If you have intersecting French seams, press them in opposite directions to each other to minimise bulk at the intersection.

Now I need to get back to my sewing, I have a cute fitted 50s jacket on the sewing table, lined with a Liberty lawn.  I hope to get it finished this week and photograph it on the weekend.  It’s in a great Autumn colour & Belle cannot wait for me to get it done!



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