How to sew a French Seam.

or as the French call it a “couture anglaise” an English Seam. Hmmm… isn’t that funny?!!

One of the most common searches that brings people to my blog is the phrase How to sew a French seam. I’m not sure how often I’ve talked about them or if it is just random hits because of my blog name. I suspect the latter. And apparently there are a whole lot of people who need to know.

I think we should talk about them.

French seams are quick, simple and clean. Perfect to tidy up the inside of  bag, pouches, and totes. They are especially nice for clothes that will endure lots of washings. This is a perfect technique to use when working with fabrics that tend to fray heavily or if you just want a professional, polished finish without a serger, zigzag or an overlock stitch. With a French Seam all raw edges are completely enclosed. No unraveling.

Let’s get started!

When your pattern calls for a 5/8″ seam, with wrong sides together, take a 1/4″ seam. For me 1/4″ measures from the edge of my sewing machine foot. I know that feels awkward, you don’t want to do it, but be brave, just sew that fabric together opposite of everything you have ever learned. It will be okay.

Now press it open. Isn’t a pressed open seam pretty? It makes me smile.

Now it is time to fold and kiss the right sides together, as you have been taught for most of your sewing career. Press again, this time pressing seam flat.

Press seam flat

Take a 3/8″ seam, just to enclose the previous 1/4″ seam.

1/4″ (first seam) + 3/8″ (second seam) = 5/8″ (how much we originally allowed for the seam). It is as easy as that. Make adjustments, as necessary, if your seam is larger or smaller than 5/8″.

Take a 3/8" seam and you did it!

You did it! A perfectly enclosed seam. No unraveling. It some cases you  might want to press it to one side and then topstitch it as often seen in men’s dress shirts. For my lounge pants leaving as is is just fine.

If you are a regular around here you may have noticed my ironing board cover. No, I did not make a new one as you first thought. But I do have the new fabric, as you can see. Since it needs changed so often, I’m thinking I might just pin it on and be done with it…

Now I’m off to see why making potatoes with nea fitini brings people to my blog…

Have a great day!

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3 Responses to How to sew a French Seam.

  1. timquilts says:

    thanks for the lesson!…I will use it with a tote bag project I have planned!


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