Tutorial: How To Sew French Seams

A sewing tutorial for Beginners

Once you’ve gained confidence in sewing straight lines, a French seam is a great step to add to your sewing projects to get them looking extra special.

French seams are most commonly used for fine fabrics:

  • The seam is sewn twice, making the finished item more durable.
  • Raw edges are enclosed in the finished seam, to give a neat finish.
  • Some fine fabrics are sheer, making seams visible. A French seam is aesthetically pleasing.

If you’re new to sewing French seams the easiest start point is to practice with cotton fabrics; it’s easier to see your progress and they are much more forgiving when unpicked.

Jump To:

  1. Sewing With Cotton Fabrics
  2. Sewing With Fine Fabrics

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Practicing French Seams With Cotton Fabric

Important notes:

For steps using machine sewing, straight stitch, backstitching at the start & end using stitch length 2.5 unless otherwise stated.

Prepare your fabrics as per manufacturer’s care advice.

You will need:

  • 2 pieces of cotton fabric

Step-by-Step With Cotton Fabric

1. Pin 2 pieces of fabric right sides together

2. Sew with a 5mm seam allowance

3. Press the seam open with the seam allowances to one side, trim any loose threads.

4. Fold along the seam to bring the 2 fabrics right sides together and press.

5. Pin then sew with a 1cm seam allowance.

6. Press the seam allowance to one side

On fine fabrics the 1st sewn seam allowance is trimmed and a wider seam allowance is sometimes necessary for this step. 

When using cotton, a 5mm seam can be usually be sewn on a domestic machine without the fabric being ‘chewed’. The seam allowances have not been trimmed in the cottons practice following the 1st sew, unless you wish to. The finished seams here will not be visible as per sheer fabrics, therefore a slightly bulkier finish does not present any aesthetic issues.

The final seam on fine fabrics is narrower.

Once you feel confident sewing a French seam with cotton fabrics, you may wish to practice on some delicate fabric:

Sewing French Seams With Fine Fabrics

Important notes:

For steps using machine sewing, straight stitch, backstitching at the start & end using stitch length 3 unless otherwise stated.

Prepare your fabrics as per manufacturers care advice.

You will need:

  • 2 pieces of cotton fabric

Step-by-Step With Fine Fabrics

Prepare your fabrics as per manufacturers care advice.

1. Pin 2 pieces of fabric right sides together

2. Sew with a 1cm seam allowance

3. Press the seam open with the seam allowances to one side, trim the seam allowance to 2 or 3mm

4. Fold along the seam to bring the 2 fabrics right sides together and press.

5. Pin then sew with a 5mm seam allowance.

6. Press the seam allowance to one side

And you’re finished, well done!


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