Thursday, October 3, 2013

Tutorial: French seams and double stitched seams

Two of the techniques I managed to obtain while making the Barbara dress (photos yet to come!) were French seams and rolled hems. Both are good techniques for light materials such as chiffon or silk as they both hide the delicate edges within the seam and give a nice clean finish

Today I will show you French seams - which are apparently called English seams in France (couture anglaise), and also a neat little technique which is ideal for curves while using delicate fabrics
French seam
The French seam requires you to make two lines of stitches – one in the seam allowance and one on the normal seam line. It’s ideal for nice soft fabrics as it encases the raw edge within in the seam. Some fabrics do not take well to being overlocked and so the less it's fussed around with, the better. They are also good for medium weight fabrics and children’s clothes as they are hardy and tend not to unravel on often washed garments

Let’s begin shall we?

Start by pinning your pieces of fabric WRONG sides together

Sew the first line of stitching 1cm (3/8 in) in from the edge. Use the gauge on your machine to ensure you sewing with the right amount

You can also take a piece of coloured tape or wrap a rubber band around the machine and use that to indicate on your machine the seam allowance measurement.

Take your fabric from the machine and snip the allowance away down to 3mm (1/4 in)

Iron your fabric by pressing the main piece of fabric out and over the seam and close it back down so that the correct sides of the fabric are facing.  Pin it closed to keep it stable.

The next line of stitches will need to be 5mm (3/16 in) in from the edge. Be sure you are stitching enough allowance so that you don't accidentally include some of the raw edge in the stitches and it ends up showing. Not that anyone will notice, but you might! 

Press the seam open and there you go! 

As a side note, if you are time poor or need to sew along a curve, you can simply do a double seam stitch.

With right sides together, sew your first line of stitching 1.5mm (5/8 in) as normal.
Then sew a second line of stitches 3mm (1/4 in) away from the first line of stitches.

Trim the excess fabric away as close as possible to the stitches. Although there is still a raw edge, it should still protect the main row of stitches from unraveling.

Hopefully I have made that easier for some of you (and that I converted from metric to imperial correctly!)

If you have anything you need me to add, let me know in the comments!

Cat xo


  1. show us the dress already!

    1. patience is a virtue my dear friend! So send me some free doc martins already!

  2. I love a French seam - how strange that the French call them English! that fabric is gorgeous, I'm dying to see the final make. I think you've just inspired me to crack the machine out and knock up a new frock (if I've any decent fabric to hand!) xxx

    1. yes it is strange! I would think the masters of couture would want to keep something as lovely to themselves!
      I hope i have inspired you to get cracking on the machine Vix - and make sure you show us what you make!

  3. Great tutorial Cat, I'm looking forward to seeing your creation!

    1. Thanks! Ill be taking the photos this weekend

  4. I'm not sure why I have never gotten around to french seams!
    They're so beautiful and tidy...I'm sure I have a project they'd be great for!
    Great tutorial, lovely! XXX

    1. their pretty neat actually! even just on cotton their really good an make you feel like a french fashion house couturier!


Thanks for your comment! Please do not comment anonymously - feel free to use the Name/URL option instead as I’d still love to hear from you xo

*Spam comments will be swiftly deleted, so please do not bother