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Tutorial: How to create a french seam

french seam

French seams are wonderful for professional-looking, clean seams. The raw edge of fabric is essentially encased within the seam. They are perfect for light, delicate fabrics such as silk. This tutorial will produce a 5/8″ seam.

If you are making this silk scarf, you can use a french seam to join the two pieces of fabric end to end. While the seam will be visible, it will look very neat.

pin seam

Pin the seam, with the wrong sides together.

stitch seam

Machine stitch, using only a 1/4″ seam.

press seam

trim seam

Press the seam flat, then trim close to the seam.

press downward

Now press the seam downward.

turn and press

Turn the fabric, so the right sides are now together. To help turn the seam, it can be helpful to run the tip of a knitting needle along the inside of the seam. Press the seam.

stitch again

Stitch again, this time using a 3/8″ seam allowance. this will encase the raw edge.

press again

Press the seam downward to finish the seam.

finished seam

To finish the scarf, create a hand rolled hem along the four sides.

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Tutorial on how to make a silk scarf

[…] best thing is that the tutorial includes other tutorials on how to create a french seam and how to make a hand rolled […]

On , Sylvia Adams said:

Hard to see how you would make a rolled hem over the french seam. Would it not be better to do the rolled hem first, then seam the two pieces together. Or, cut the scarf running crossways (on the weft) so no seam is necessary.

On , Sewist said:

I thought the same thing. Personally, I’m not so sure that making a scarf with a French seam looks very good, although I enjoyed reading the tutorial.

On , Sarai said: |

Sylvia: If you press the seam flat, it’s not too difficult. Personally, I think it looks better to do the seam first in order to make it less conspicuous, but obviously that’s up to the sewer. :)

As for cutting it on the crosswise grain, that’s an option as well, but the scarf would not be the extra long length pictured.

On , Elsie said:

You have given me courage ! I am making a dress for my 12 year old granddaughter and wanted to do a scarf, I am going to try this and hope it works. I had no one to ask and have not sewed many clothes since my own girls were young. Thank you I’ll let you know how it turns out.

On , Debbie said:

re ur french seam tutorial – thanks for the info but I just thought you should know that the link for “this silk scarf” is broken.

On , Sarai said: |

Debbie, sorry you had trouble with it but the link appears to be working for me. Hmm.

On , Jeannette said:

I was looking up how to make a baby sling, and in the directions it says to use a french seam. I’m trying, but I still don’t quite understand what it is, and why this is the beat seam for holding in babies. I’m not saying your tutorial isn’t a good one, but I’m not sure I understand the seam. is there something I’m just not picking up on? I’m not a huge sewer, but I’d like to become one, and I’d just like to get this right. is there any easier way of explaining it to a new sewer?

On , Linda said:

Years ago, this seam use to be made by, by making a regular seam, cutting half of the width of one piece of the seam, turning piece that is left in half and lining it up with bottom of the piece you cut in half and sewing it together.

The new method, looks much easier to do.

On , Sarai said: |

Hi Jeanette. A french seam is used basically to make your seams look neat, so there are no raw fabric edges showing. There’s no reason it’s better for holding a baby, except that it looks neater and perhaps will prevent stray threads from getting on the wee one.

On , Jeannette said:

thanks. I figured it out, and the sling is great! I sewed it down (like on the outer seam of jeans) and it’s working great.

On , Lisa said:

To Jeannette:

I think that when you fold the seam down and stitch the edge again it is called a “FLAT FELL” seam.

I really appreciate this description of french seams as I have not sewn since high school – about 30 years ago.

I want to use french seams in duvet covers I’m planning to make next week.

Elastic thread shirring and French Seams, new and old favourites put together in one cute dress!(TUTORIAL) « Punkn’s

[…] Colette Patterns and Hoppo Bumpo have pretty good tutorials on this.  Basically put your fabric wrong sides together, stitch a seam (3/8″ or 1cm is good), press flat, trim to about 1/4″ and flip fabric so right sides are together.  Press again and stitch your seam again, about 3/8″ or 1cm.  This encases the raw edge.  press and your done!  You can make this wider or narrower depending on the thickness of your fabric. […]

On , Renee said:

Debbie is right, the link is broken. You can probably see it because you’re logged into the blog. Try changing “.local” to “.com” in the URL.

Thanks for the tutorial!

On , Sarai said: |

Thanks guys, the link should be fixed now. Sorry about that!

On , marie said:

Mmmm… Strange. In french, we call these english seams (!?).

On , Sewist said:

une couture anglaise

On , Sarai said: | colettepatterns.com

Marie, that’s so funny. I wonder what they call a hong kong seam in hong kong!

On , Sylvia said:

Okay, what is a hong knog seam?

On , Sarai said: | colettepatterns.com

A hong kong seam is a name for a seam in which each raw edge of the seam is encased in bias binding. It’s very labor intensive but a wonderful finish!

On , Sylvia said:

Thanks for describing a hong kong seam and for not pointing out that I transposed my letters in kong.

On , Dora said:

Ooh, thank you! Wonderfully clear instructions!

On , Ashford said:

Can you use a French seam in the side seam where you have a bust dart?

On , Sarai said: | colettepatterns.com

You absolutely can. I suppose the only exception might be if your fabric is bulky, but french seams are normally used on very light fabrics, so bulk shouldn’t be a big issue I wouldn’t think.

On , Sewist said:

Sure. The next time you’re at a store look at some nice women’s blouses.

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On , JuliW said:

Sarai, thanks for the french seam tutorial. I have a length of silk chiffon that I’m going to use to make a blouse. It has a tendency to ravel and I had been considering how to keep that to a minimum in making the top. The french seams and hand rolled hem will do that beautifully.

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On , hanna said:

how is this different to a flat seam??

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On , nubbystubby said:

I sewed for a handbag company that utilized french seams often. I love the french seam and I also love the hand sewn rolled hem. Hand sewing is my preference, so I will definitely be using it to make scarves from large remnants I purchased that were marked down. Thank you for the great instructions!!!

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On , Kaylee said:

I Still Don’t Know How To Do It And If I’m Supposed To Use Two Fabrics Although I Am Using Calico.

On , Carolyn Bernd said:

Thank you for reminding me how to do a French seam with your easy to follow tutorial here! I found it when I Googled French seam, and will look at your patterns when I have more time!

On , kate said: | katesurfs.wordpress.com

Thanks! Great tutorial! I also was looking up another tutorial that told me to use a french seam to finish off a baby wrap! I sew quite a bit, but had never known the term for a french seam.

On , Linne said: | arandomharvest.wordpress.com

French seams are great for baby wraps; they keep the raw threads out of baby’s reach. They also make for a stronger seam, which is a good thing, as babies seem to grow amazingly quickly, getting heavier all the time!

On , Trish said:

Thank you for such an ‘idiot-proof’ explanation to french seams. I have recently got myself a sewing machine and want to encourage my daughters to take up machine sewing too and your tips and hints have been great :)

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[…] you are interested in learning to do French seams, check out THIS tutorial from Colette […]

On , Trudy said:

Thanks so much! The little bags I’m making are sooo much nicer now! Legend. Is this also called a flat seam? What is a flat-felled seam?

On , Lanetta said: | lanettascreations.blogspot.com

Another fabulous tutorial! Thank you for taking the time to create and share! In today’s article, I put a link so my readers could also find you!
http://lanettascreations.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-art-of-seaming.html

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On , Mary Ann Preckol said:

No matter how I try I just can’t seem to catch on to the French sea, any tricks or a new and better method?

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