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Learn How to Make a French Seam

We Love Prof - AU > Arts and Hobbies > Sewing > What is a French Seam?

Learning to sew can take some time. However, once you do, you can make yourself a new wardrobe with a cute dress or by sewing a t-shirt. Whether sewing a bag, customising your jeans, decorating a tote bag, or using a serger, there are many different ways to learn how to sew.

Just like cross-stitch, crochet, knitting, embroidery, and patchwork, sewing requires dexterity and passion when it comes to folding, tracing, cutting, etc.

So get a few free patterns, some fabric offcuts, crowbar, a thread, canvas mount, and a sewing kit and follow a few guides.

Whether you’re starting a sewing blog, setting up a haberdashery, or just for yourself, here’s what you need to know about the French seam and some advice about it.

What Is a French Seam?

When you first start a new hobby, it can be difficult to understand all the different terms and vocabulary you come across in books and tutorials. Without a teacher by your side, you can quickly get bogged down.

So what is a French seam?

This is a term that you’ve probably heard before.

A French seam is “a seam with the raw edges enclosed.” You’ll not be able to see the edges of the fabric.

It’s also sometimes called an “invisible seam” owing to the fact you can’t actually see where the stitches have been made.

This technique is very popular amongst seamstresses and designers because of the lovely finish it provides. The clothes appear more sophisticated and more carefully crafted because there’s no visible thread holding the pieces together.

What is a French seam? The French seam is as fashionable as the French. (Source: Walkerssk)

It makes the work very professional-looking. However, anyone can learn how to do the French seam. It requires more patience than your typical seam. In fact, a French seam needs to be worked on twice.

  • Once with the “wrong” sides of the fabric
  • Once again once the first seam is complete, folded, and ironed

The technique isn’t hugely complicated but it can be time-consuming. Once you’ve mastered it, you’ll start being able to do it more and more quickly. It was quite the revolution when it came to sewing.

Did you know that in French, they call it the “couture anglaise”, which means “English seam”?

Why Use a French Seam?

What’s a French seam useful for?

Why should you choose this type of seam over another?

There are several advantages to using a French seam: It can make the edges of your garments seem more elegant and the fabric is less likely to fray and you can’t see the tiny defects.

This technique is also useful for people who are sensitive to seams, like babies. The seam doesn’t directly touch the skin.

Designers like the French seam for clothing that doesn’t have a lining. The technique can be used to hide the seams in the same way that two layers would. The French seam is really useful for thin, light, or even transparent materials.

It’s also a good alternative when you don’t have a serger. The French seam allows for very smooth edges.

What is an invisible seam? If you don’t like the look of the thread, you should choose a French seam. (Source: Bru-nO)

Even if you’re a beginner, the French seam is quite an easy technique. It’s useful if you’re not quite skilled enough to add a lining.

Don’t hesitate to learn more about the French seam. Don’t forget to take your time!

Keep in mind that you can only really use a French seam on straight edges like the bottom of a t-shirt. It’s almost impossible to use this technique on round seams like on a collar.

Did you think that sewing was just for women?

How to Make a French Seam

It’s much easier to understand a French seam once you’ve tried it at least once. This will give you a better idea of each step you have to do and exactly how you perform each technique.

So here are a few ways to make your first invisible seams:

Adjust the Seam Allowance

A French seam can take around twice as long to do as a regular seam. This is mainly because you have to do two seams. In addition to requiring more time, it also requires more fabric.

You need to make sure that the seam allowance on your patterns has been altered to reflect this. The seam allowance (also known as inlays) is the extra margin on the fabric so that you can make seams. They are usually around 1cm. It’s the space between the stitch and the edge of the fabric.

A French seam usually requires a seam allowance of 1.5cm: 5mm for the first stitch and 1cm for the second.

Which is the best material for French seams? It’s important to choose the right fabric. (Source: Engin_Akyurt)

Sew the First Part

The French seam consists of two stitches. Here are the steps you need to follow to do the first one:

  • Like most seams, start by ironing the fabric you’re going to use. This helps ensure that the measurements you’re cutting are correct.
  • Take the two pieces of fabric and place the two opposite sides together.
  • Use pins along the length of the fabric to hold it in position.
  • Start by sewing at the very top or the very bottom. You need to make a straight stitch 5mm from the edge of the fabric. This will leave you with another centimetre to sew the second part.
  • Once your first stitch is finished, turn over the fabric and iron it again to make sure the stitch is in the right place.

Sewing the Second Part

  • Now that your fabric is nicely ironed, use pins to hold the two pieces together.
  • You now just have to sew one centimetre from the edge of the fabric to finish off your French seam. You can finish off by ironing it one last time to make sure that the fabric is sitting correctly

Your French seam is done! There’s nothing too difficult about this technique. Don’t hesitate to give it a go and set aside a few hours to practice and get it right.

Just another skill to add to your sewing repertoire…

What Sewing Equipment Do You Need?

Do you need any special equipment to make a French seam?

This is a question that’s commonly asked by beginners. You need to know how to sew and you’ll be fine with a basic sewing kit. If you have better equipment, you’re more than welcome to use it. However, if you don’t, don’t worry!

An iron is useful but not essential. Except if you want to use fusible interlining!

The same is true for sewing machines. Some seamstresses often ask which techniques should be hand-sewn and which should use a machine. The best technique is the one that you feel most comfortable with.

You won’t necessarily go faster with a sewing machine if you don’t know how to use it. When it comes to sewing, make sure you’re enjoying it!

What equipment do you need to make a French seam? You can do French seams either by hand or with a sewing machine. (Source: wnk1029)

The bare minimum you’ll need is:

  • Some thread
  • A needle
  • A pair of scissors

The tools you’ll need for a French seam will also be useful when doing other types of hem. You can find this equipment quite cheaply and start learning how to sew without bankrupting yourself.

You need to carefully choose where you’re going to sew as well. Choose somewhere where you have a good amount of space and you feel comfortable.

How Can You Learn to Make a French Seam?

If you’re worried about attempting your first French seam or you’d prefer to get to grips with the basics before you start, you can always get someone to help you.

Have a look around for sewing workshops or sewing lessons for beginners and start learning to sew and don’t forget to check out Pinterest for inspiration, too!

A lot of sewing organisations offer lessons around certain themes (sewing for children, overcasting, zippers, customising, sewing a button, hems, choosing the right needles, etc.). You can find courses that last just a day and learn how to do a French seam. It’s rare that they’ll last any longer than this. You’ll also learn how to follow patterns and the different steps involved.

You could also choose a private tutor. They’ll help you learn how to do a French seam as well as other sewing techniques. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or an expert, private tutorials can work around your schedule.

There are also sewing tutorials, sewing blogs, and haberdasheries. You have to choose which one works the best for you. Don’t forget that this is a technique that’s used a lot in haute couture and at respectable fashion houses, too!

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