In this easy guide to sewing French seams, I will show you how to hide raw fabric edges when sewing. French seams are the perfect solution for home sewers who don’t own an overlocker!
The French seam method requires two lines of stitching in order to encase the raw fabric edge. The method works best with lightweight materials. French seams create a more professional finish for your garments. It also reduces the risk of fraying edges so your garments last longer.
Watch my video tutorial on sewing French seams or keep reading for step-by-step instructions with pictures.
The following steps and measurements are for an intended seam allowance of 1.6cm or 5/8 inch, which is the standard seam allowance used in most commercial patterns and all Chiffon Jam patterns.
The first line of stitch
Place your fabric pieces together with the WRONG sides of the fabric facing together and the RIGHT sides of the fabric facing outwards.
Stitch 1cm or 3/8 inch from the fabric edge. A measurement guide can be found under the foot of most sewing machines.
Snip and iron the fabric
Trim the fabric edge by about half. This is critical to avoid frayed fabric edges getting caught in the second line of stitch.
Open the fabric up and push the seam flap to one side. Iron flat.
Close the fabric along the seam line, this time with RIGHT sides of the fabric facing together and WRONG sides facing outwards. Iron flat.
The second line of stitch
This is where the magic happens! Enclose the raw fabric edges by stitching .6cm or 1/4 from the fold line.
You now have a beautiful finished French seam!
Keep in mind, French seams work best with lightweight fabric. If you are working with heavier fabrics such as denim, corduroy and some linens, this method could add unnecessary bulk to your final garment.
Check out my Greek Goddess dress pattern and sewing tutorial to see how I apply French seams when sewing a summer dress.