Mini Tutorial: How To Sew A French Seam
Note: The steps below is designed for sewing beginners and instances of working with lightweight, difficult-to-control fabrics. Thus, temporary hand basting is used in lieu of pins to keep fabric edges together. If you feel comfortable using pins alone, you can skip the hand basting portions in this tutorial.
1. Start by aligning the seam edges with fabric with fabric wrong sides touching. Insert pins perpendicularly or hand baste the seam layers of extra stability. As opposed to conventional seams, which require that the fabric layers are aligned with fabric face sides touching, a french seam application requires that in the first half of the construction process, the fabric layers are aligned with wrong sides touching.
2. Stitch the seam at half of the seam allowance width. In this tutorial the full seam allowance width is 1/2", thus this initial stitch is applied at 1/4" from the edge.
3. Once stitched, it is recommended that you trim about 1/8" of the raw fabric excess. As you'll see in the steps to follow, doing so will keep these raw edges away form the final seam stitch thus preventing them from getting caught and showing on the right side of the final seam.
4. To facilitate the folding process to follow, iron the raw fabric edges open as shown.
5. Next flip the fabric layers of the fabric raw edges such that the fabric face sides are now touching and the fabric edges are sandwiched in between. The seamline created in Step 2 above will now align with the folded edge. Iron the folded edge in this alignment as shown in the image above. Insert a few pins perpendicularly to secure the layers in this position.
6. To complete the french seam and permanently enclose all raw edges, stitch at half the seam allowance width (the remaining half) from the folded edge. This stitch will naturally correspond directly with the seam's designated/original seamline (marked with a white chalk line in this tutorial).
7. Last but least, it is important to iron the finished french seam with the seam allowance pointing to a single side. In the finished seam, all ra wedges will be enclosed by the second and final stitch applied above with a finish that looks clean on both the right and wrong side of the garment.