french seams

for those of you who don't know a french seam is a finishing technique whereby you see the seam twice: once to attach the two pieces of fabric, and once to enclose the raw edge in a pocket on the inside of the garment.  

now i thought about doing a french seam tutorial, but the world has enough of those. (sorta like gravy boats. every time i see one on a wedding registry I'm stumped. do we really need to keep producing these? as a society don't we have enough specialized serving dishes for something consumed once or twice a year? i mean how much gravy are we eating if everyone needs one? if you really want one can't you ask grandma for hers?) 

so instead of a tutorial (here is a great one) i am going to recap when and how i think they are best used.  

do use french seams on unlined garments

seriously they were made for this. the main benefit of french seams is that they offer a simple (aesthetically and technique-wise) way to finish raw edges that won't mess with the look or construction of the garment and allow for other techniques to be used.

i used french seams with nora and etta's poppy dresses, which are the garden party dresses (available for younger children here) from oliver + s. it didn't interfere with the hem facing (a technique i'll talk about on thursday), the hand stitched hem (a technique i'll talk about friday), or the secret sissy button (which i've discussed here).


don't use french seams with bulky fabric

with a french seam you are sewing four layers of fabric in a very tight space, so they don't work well with heavy, bulky, or laminated fabric. i've had great success doing them with a lightweight corduroy, like in the farmers market jacket, but i wouldn't do something thicker.

also using the iron is key for good french seams, so don't attempt them with laminated or other heat sensitive fabric.


do use french seams with side seam pockets

oh man i love this one, french seams are the best way to finish side seams that have in seam pockets. i don't have a good photo but here they are in use for the fireworks dress i made maya.  


don't be afraid to use french seams with lightweight fabric

seriously they were made for this. i almost always use them with voile, lawn, or batiste. here they are with a super light weight lawn top i made this weekend (post to come in late october  or early november, i'm just so on my blog's editorial calendar like that). i used this same fabric (and french seams ) for nora and etta's back to school skirt this year.


do use french seams for curved seams, but...

so it is totally possible to use french seams where the fabric curves. the key, which i learned from oliver + s, is to stretch and straighten the fabric when doing the first seam, then it won't pucker on the second one. below is how i did this to attach the sleeves of a top i recently made (again expect a post on that in late october/early november). 

so there you have my views on french seams (i didn't know i had so many either). stop by tomorrow when we'll be talking about (my) version of straight stitch seams.


aunt maggie