I’ve been using French seams because I don’t own an overlocker and so, as the raw edges are encased within the seam, the finish looks tidier. The garment will also wash better and there will be no fraying. French seams are nice and strong too which makes them ideal for children’s clothing. In fact, I first learnt of French seams reading an Enid Gilchrist pattern book.
Perhaps this is the trickiest bit of all because it goes against the fundamentals of sewing a seam. For a French seam you place the wrong sides of the fabric together (which is the opposite of what you would ordinarily do). Before you start sewing know the seam allowance that you’re working with and sew this first seam half that size. That is, if you’re sewing a pattern that suggests a 10mm seam allowance sew this first seam 5mm. Sew the pieces of material together.
Trim the seam – you don’t want the seam to exceed more than 5mm otherwise your seam will become bulky. It is also really important to ensure that there are no stray threads otherwise they may protrude the seam and be visible.
Turn the fabric so that right sides are now together and press the seam. If you’re anything like me you may very well be tempted to skip this step ... but it does work out for the better if you abandon your cuppa next to the machine for a few moments and visit the iron at the ironing board.
With right sides facing together sew the seam as you usually would and press to finish.
Voila! – you’ve just sewn a French seam.
...and here is the finished product.