How to sew a french seam in 5 easy steps
French seams are widely used to sew delicate fabrics. I have always used French seams for my silk chiffon and organza garments. They give a very nice and neat finish. Actually, I like them on any lightweight and mediumweight silk. And recently I used French seams to sew 100% silk pillowcases.
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You can find many good online tutorials on how to sew French seams. But it seems to me that something is missing in those tutorials. So today I am going to add some tips on how to sew professionally looking French seams.
First of all, I like to use my serger to sew French seams. I think it is faster this way. But it is not recommended for really sheer see-through fabric because the serger stitches still will be visible through the layers of the sheer fabric. But for any other lightweight silk (like georgette, charmeuse, crepe de Chine, habotai, shantung, etc.) it is a good method.
In the past French seams were used mostly because people didn’t have a serger to finish raw edges nicely and fast. But now they are used because they give garments that couture touch, because serger seams don’t look that beautiful on sheer fabric, or because we just need stronger seams for clothing and bedding that has to be washed often.
And now everybody who is serious about sewing has a serger. Well, if you don’t have one maybe it is time to buy it? Check out great sergers below.
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Brother Serger, 1034DX, 3/4 Thread Serger with Differential Feed, 3 or 4 Thread Capability, 1,300 Stitches Per Minute, Color-Coded Threading Guides
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JUKI MO644D Portable Serger
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- Sews light to medium weight fabric
Brother 2340CV, Cover, Advanced Serger, Color-Coded Threading Guide, Dial Stitch Length, Presser Foot Pressure Adjustment, White
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- HIGH PERFORMANCE: Featuring tri-cover stitch, wide and narrow coverstitches along with easy-to-follow color coded threading and cover stitch capability of 3mm to 6mm for thicker materials
- 1,100 STITCHES PER MINUTE: The 2340CV has a maximum sewing speed of up to 1,100 stitches per minute allowing you to serger more in less time
- EASY TO THREAD: A fast thread looper system, color-coded guides on machine, and lay-in threading make the C2340CV easy to use
- INCLUDED ACCESSORY FEET: A standard foot plus blind stitch and gathering foot are included with the 2340CV
- METAL FRAME: The Brother 2340CV is a sturdy coverstitch-dedicated serger made with a metal frame and internal parts. The two needle 2-3-4 cover stitch functions are great for working with stretch fabrics, as well as creating necklines and hems
SINGER | Professional 5 14T968DC Serger with 2-3-4-5 Threaded Capability, including Cover Stitch, Auto Tension, and Bonus Presser Feet
- SINGER PROFESSIONAL SEWING MACHINE: The SINGER 14T968DC Serger machine has 2-3-4-5 thread capability providing a wide selection of stitch options for all types of projects with professional results every time.
- SEWING SPEED: The SINGER Professional 5 14T968DC serger has a maximum sewing speed of 1,300 stitches-per-minute, so projects can be sewn quickly.
- 4 BUILT-IN ROLLED HEMS: The SINGER Professional 14T968DC 5 sewing machine converting to the Rolled Hem sewing mode is effortless. An easy access lever moves the stitch finger in position for rolled hemming.
- BEST SEWING MACHINE: The SINGER Professional 5 14T968DC serger has a wide range of stitch options for sewing seams, hems, decorative edges, rolled hems, cover hems, and more..Amps : 0.5
- This sewing machine is warranted for use in the US and Canada at 110 volts only. Note: To ensure proper stitching, it is important to keep tension while threading the machine.
Juki MO-1000 Serger, Push Button Jet Air Looper Threader,purple
- Automatic Needle Threader
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- Included Accessories: Presser foot Large screwdriver Small screwdriver Spare lower knife Spool caps Oiler Thread nets Vinyl cover Needle pack Tweezer Brush & needle inserter Needle threader Guide bar 2/3 thread selector Instruction Manual Accessory pouch Foot control & power cord.
- US Warranty: 5 Years Mechanical (this excludes "consumable parts" such as loopers, feed dogs, knife blades, bulbs, lamps, presser feet, needles and belts) 2 Years Electrical (motors, light assembly, wiring, switches, circuit boards and speed control). 90 Days Adjustments on defects in material or workmanship.
Janome MOD-8933 Serger with Lay-in Threading, 3 and 4 Thread Convertible with Differential Feed
- Janome MOD-Serger Overlock with 3 and 4 Thread Options
- Lay-In Threading System with Color-Coded Thread Guides
- Quick Change Rolled Hem and Adjustable Presser Foot Pressure
- Differential Feed helps prevents stretching and puckering
- Easy Accessible Lower Looper with Pretension Setting Slider
Janome 8002D Serger Includes Bonus Accessories
- 4 Thread Serger
- Metal Working Parts
I have on my blog a review of a very nice self-threading serger JUKI 2000 QVP (if you would like to upgrade your old serger).
So I think I am not exaggerated when I tell you to use a serger to sew French seams. It is not only faster (regularly sewing French seams is a time-consuming procedure).
But silk fabric is usually fraying a lot and it is a very hard task to trim long seams (it is not so bad for very short seams) properly so the threads and even parts of raw edges are not showing on the right side of the item after you are done sewing French seams.
And this can happen often if you didn’t cut away enough fabric after sewing the first seam or the fabric frayed a lot right away during the trimming process. And I think you agree that it is not acceptable to see any whiskers going out of the seam on the right side of the garment.
Now I am going to show you how to use a serger to sew French seams. I advise you to practice on scraps before actual sewing.
Please note: some links I share on this page are affiliate links. I only recommend useful things that can make your sewing life easy.
Also please note that measurements in this article are provided in metrics so if you are used to working with the imperial system please use this chat from www.craftsy.com or this chat from www.ludlowquiltandsew.co.uk.
How to make a french seam in 5 easy steps
Pin fabric pieces wrong side together and right sides facing up. Mark both stitch lines that you need to sew on ( for French seams we need to sew 2 stitch lines) with a fabric marker. In my case, the seam allowances are 1.5 cm (5/8 in) so I marked one line 1.5 cm from the fabric edge. And I marked another line 7 mm from the first one (this distance can vary depending on the fabric used for the project).
Serger stitch your fabric using proper threads (extra fine and in tone with your fabric). Stitch line should go 7 mm from the pattern line.
Silk threads are just amazing! They are very thin but they are also very strong. Here are affiliate links where you can buy 100% silk threads for your projects.
Press seams flat on one side (any side).
Put pattern pieces right sides together this time and fold the fabric exactly along the first stitch line so the stitch line is right on the edge of your fabric pieces. Baste (or pin) and press carefully. After pressing you will see clearly where the raw edges are.
Stitch with a straight stitch (make the length of the stitch 1.5 – 2.00 mm for silk fabric) enclosing the raw edges and using the marked stitch line. I usually sew 6 – 7mm from the folded edge so that the allowances remain inside. Press again on one side.
Perhaps, you should check out my other popular tutorials from my blog.
French seam allowance cm
The second tip is about the proper seam allowances when sewing French seams.
The problem with them is that the second stitch line (as you may notice there are two stitch lines in French seams) has to go along your pattern line exactly and it is not very clear how to make this properly.
Some millimeters will be lost after first stitching, folding over and pressing. And fabrics are different also – some are thinner others are thicker. And where to sew the first stitch? What is the distance between the fabric edge and the first stitch – 0.5 cm? 0.7 cm? 1 cm?
So, just to be sure I usually mark my pattern lines (that are going to be sewn with French seams) with a sewing marker (as you saw above). And I noticed that if I want the second stitch to go exactly over the marked pattern line I have to sew first stitch 6 – 7 mm from the pattern line and trim it after to 3 mm or use a serger (as described above). But I advise you to practice on scrap fabric to find out exactly where your stitch lines should be (for your fabric).
And the third tip about sewing French seams is that they are not easy to rip and redo. So when sewing garments and bedding with French seams make sure that the item will fit properly and you are not planning to make the item bigger or smaller.
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