Saving the planet... one garment at a time!

... and one upcycle at a time... Welcome to my blog: A place to have an "over the fence conversation" about sewing, altered couture, upcycling, and all kinds of crafts using found objects, beads, ephemera and other vintage finds!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ooh-La-La: French Seams

I received a request from a reader to go into more detail on how to do the French seams I mentioned that I used on my Sorbetto blouse.  Today's post will do just that!

First align your pattern pieces with wrong sides together, and the right side out.  This is the opposite of what we are used to doing when making a regular seam.  Assuming you are using the standard 5/8ths inch seam allowance, sew the first seam using a 2/8ths (or 1/4 inch) seam allowance.

At this point, your seam is visible on the outside of the garment.  Next, trim to within 1/8th of an inch of the seam line.

Now turn your piece wrong side out, and press.

A second seam is now sewn, using a 3/8ths of an inch seam allowance.  The 2/8ths we used earlier, plus the 3/8ths taken now, add up to the traditional 5/8ths inch seam allowance.  Of course, all of these measurements can be changed if you are dealing with a different seam allowance.  French seams with tiny seam allowances are often used when sewing sheer fabrics as they prevent raveling and neaten the seam without adding bindings that can also add bulk.

Once this step is completed, so is your French seam!  French seams are useful, as described above with sheer fabrics, but also whenever you want to cover over the seam edges and don't want to use other seam finishes.  I've used them extensively when sewing long heavy skirts in period clothing like Medieval gowns and the like.

Thanks very much for sewing along!  If there are other techniques you'd like to see demonstrated, please feel free to comment and let me know!


  1. If you have a serger, you can start the first step of making French seams with it. In this way, you avoid having to cut the material, and it keeps the threads all nice and tidy, i.e., you won't have to trim away any stray threads. I also used French seam darts on the Sorbetto, and they looked really nice on my top.

  2. Thanks for the great tutorial - very informative and clear! I'll definitely be referring back to this when I try French seams. :)

    1. On a side note, I've nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. You needn't participate if it's not your thing, but I just wanted to let you know. Details on my blog soon. :)

  3. Of course I'll participate! I'm flattered!