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Up Your Finishing Game: French Seams

Today we are looking at some different finishes for your favourite projects. It’s great to learn some different techniques once you have mastered the standard finishing techniques for sewing garments. It’s lovely when your garment looks well-made from the outside, but there is something extra special about a beautiful inside. Certain fabrics demand different techniques (for example really thin, really chunky or transparent fabrics), or maybe your seam allowances will be really visible in your finished garment, or you just want the inside of your handmade clothes to impress! Whatever your motivation, the below techniques will definitely up your finishing game.

First up: French seams 

French Seams

French seaming is a beautiful way of finishing seam allowances and it’s extra beautiful on sheer fabrics. French seaming encases the raw edges of the seam allowances entirely, and therefore you won’t see any overlocking through transparent fabrics. It’s a good way to finish flimsy fabrics as well, like silk and chiffon. Once you get the hang of it, you will be able to apply it easily, but the first time it’s good to practise a step by step sample.

Do’s:

use a French seam on sheer fabrics

use a French seam on straight seams

Dont’s:

use a French seam on thick fabrics

use a French seam on very curved seams

Step by Step:

1. In contrast to how you normally sew seams, a French seam starts by putting wrong sides together. You will stitch your seam with the seam allowances visible on the right side of the fabric. 

2.  Now trim down your seam allowance, to about 0.25 cm or 1/4″.

3. Press your seam in half, sandwiching your short seam allowance in the middle. Try to press really neatly, with the stitch line sitting right on the fold, for the neatest result. In the picture below we have stitched one in organza and stitched it in black, so you can see this process clearly. You can see the short seam allowances sandwiched in the middle.

4. Using your foot as a guide, and keeping your seam pressed in half, we will now stitch a foot’s width away from the first stitch line. Keep your eyes on the foot: the edge of the foot should align with the pressed edge all the time. Keeping your eyes on this will make sure you stitch a perfect line.

5. Your second stitch line has encased the raw edges of your seam allowance and on the inside of your garment you now have a beautiful French seam!

 

Trivia: apparently in English-speaking countries this is called a French seam, and in France it’s called an English seam (Claire B. Shaeffer, “Couture Sewing Techniques”).

 

French seams are beautiful on sheer blouses, flimsy skirts, and are a good way to practise accuracy in your sewing. Our top tip is to keep your eyes on your presser foot (which is still), rather than on the needle (which is constantly moving and therefore distracting).

We hope you have learnt something new today, and will go off and enthusiastically finish off the insides of your beautiful projects!

Love,

Team Selkie

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