French Seams

The key to great sewing is having the tools you need to make the job easy and pleasant. In order to create a beautiful French seam, those tools should include the following:

  • Some type of wrinkle release for your fabric when ironing (since ironing is key in getting a great final project). My favorite is Mary Ellen’s Best Press, which can be purchased in a few nicely scented selections. Best Press is not starch, per se, and will not leave a white, flaky residue on your fabric.  It will leave your fabric will a nice  light crisp feel. Thrifty Tip: Purchase in the large refill jug along with a mini spray bottle. The spray bottle is easy to handle and can be kept at your sewing area. It can also be purchased in a convenient spray bottle.

20161018_070307

  • A helpful sewing foot. But what foot? Whatever foot you deem helpful. There are all sorts of useful sewing machine feet you currently have in your sewing tool box and probably never even tried. Feet are fun and useful. I would suggest the Edge Foot because it has a screw that can be width adjusted (this is what we will use in the practice tutorial). Get creative and try out your feet!  Pictured here is a metal and plastic version with a snap on feature.  Yours may look completely different depending upon the type of machine you use, and whether you are using a high or low shank foot.

feet

  • A clean, hot iron. For reasons you will learn during the practice tutorial.
  • A new sewing machine needle for cotton fabrics. Check your sewing machine owner’s manual for recommendations.
  • Cotton thread in the appropriate weight for your fabric. Again, your type of machine will dictate the best type of thread you should use. I have several machines, and I cannot use the same thread on all my machines. Machines are fickle creatures. Nurture them.

The following are goals to having a perfect French seam:

  1.  or threads poking through the seam (indicating that you missed the marked and sewed to far inside the seam)
  2. A seam that presses neat and remains flat after pressing
  3. Corners (if any) that are squared (with no bumps)
  4. A seam that is not too thick or too wideUnder normal sewing circumstances,  seams are sewing with RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER. When sewing French seams, we start with WRONG SIDES TOGETHER.

FRENCH SEAMS PRACTICE

Step 1—WITH RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER

Pin or clover clip right sides of raw edges together. If you are an experience sewist, a regular straight stitch foot can be used.  An edge foot helps to guide the fabric at 1/8″.  Note: If you are uncomfortable using the edge stitch foot, or don’t have one available, you can use a regular straight stitch foot, sew a 1/4 seam allowance, and trim the seam to 1/8.

Stitch along one side all the way to the end.  Stitch along the adjacent raw edge to create a corner. Carefully snip off corner.

small-seamcorner

Step 3—PRESS

Remembering this is practice:

Open fabric out and press seam open; then press seam flat.  Check both sides of project to make sure your seam is perfectly aligned.  You should  not be able to see a seam on either side.

ironing

Step 4—STITCH

WITH WRONG SIDES TOGETHER: Stitch 1/4”, enclosing raw edge inside seam allowance. *This takes practice. This is key to a beautiful French seam. This is the icing on the cake.

Note:  You can use your straight stitch foot for this and guide your seam along the edge (a perfect 1/4″ seam measurement) or adjust your edge foot setting.

Step 5—PRESS

Once you have completed your French seam, press seam flat.

final-inside

final-outside

Are there any problems?

Any “hairs” or threads poking through the seam?

Do the seams stay flat?

Are the corners (if any) squared? Are there any bumps  in the corners?

Is the seam too thick in some areas? Is the seam too wide is some areas?

Homework

Practice your French seam technique.

Print your pillowcase instructions.

Gather your materials for your pillowcase project.

Fill up a few bobbins.

Get ready to make a gorgeous pillowcase with perfect French seams next week!

 

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