Thursday, July 12, 2012

Professional Seam Finishes Tutorial Series #1: French Seams

This is the first post in a short series I'm planning on Professional Seam Finishes.  I love quilting, but I've actually made more clothes in my life than quilts, and I think sewing clothes shouldn't be scary.  I really care about how the insides of a garment look.  When you buy clothing from a store, all of the seams are finished in some way, usually with a serger, because this is easy to do in a factory.  I own a serger, and I almost NEVER use it.  They are wonderful machines and can do a lot, but I prefer the look of other seam finishes, which are not hard to do at all.  Yes, they take longer than serging, but I think anyone who can sew a straight line can master these methods with a little practice, and they don't require the investment of purchasing a special machine.  

For the first entry in this series, I'm going to demonstrate French Seams.  These are great to do in almost any clothing application, but especially wonderful for children's clothing.  The sample here is going to be a dress for my 3-year-old when it is finished.  Advantages of this method are that all edges are completely enclosed so they will never fray, it feels smooth against skin, it is durable, and it looks FANTASTIC.  I think you get the best results for the time put in with this method.  I'm doing it on a straight seam, but it can be done on seams with a bit of a curve as well.

Step 1: Pin your fabric wrong sides together.  Yep, this is backward from normal. It's okay.

Step 2:  Sew with a 1/4" seam allowance.  Be sure to backstitch when you start and stop.

Hint: do you like chain piecing when making quilts?  You can chain piece these too.

Step 3: Trim the seam down to about 1/8".

Step 4:  If you can, press the seam open (it was actually pretty easy even with that skinny little seam allowance left)

...or if you prefer you can press it to one side.  This really doesn't show up on black fabric!  It might lie slightly flatter if you press it open rather than to one side, but no one will notice once you're done, so either way is fine.

Step 5:  Fold along the seam with right sides together, enclosing the 1/8" seam allowance, and press in place.  Add a few pins to keep it from flopping around.

Step 6:  Sew again at 1/4", being sure to backstitch when you start and stop.

Step 7:  Press to one side, usually toward the back of the garment if it is a vertical seam, or down if it is a horizontal seam.  If you'll be sewing two sections together that both have French seams, it creates a lot of  bulk to deal with, so press one in one direction and the other one in the opposite direction.

That's all there is to it!  These really are simple to do, and look so fabulous and professional when they are done.  If you do several at once, like I did today, they really go together quickly.

I've seen French seams finished wider before, such as using the regular edge of the presser foot rather than 1/4", and I don't like the look, it's just too wide.  You can also finish them at 1/8" on sheers like chiffon.  I hate sewing on chiffon, so I won't be doing that any time soon, but it works quite well and looks beautiful when it is finished. Good luck and happy sewing!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Barbie! I just saw your comment on my blog. Your family is darling! And your work is amazing as always! Tanya and I grew up together...if you look at her post about her very first quilt, I am "the friend." I haven't done as much quilting as I would like lately, but I have so many projects lined up, I will be busy the rest of my life! I've found some of your tutorials very helpful...thanks for sharing your talent!!


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