Sewing Techniques / Tips & Tutorials

Tutorial: How to sew french seams

French seams

This seems to be one of those things that tend to scare a lot of people – but really aren’t hard at all and today I’m going to show you how to sew french seams!


Personally, I don’t think they are the solution to every seam (there are so many options!), but they are a beautifully neat way to finish raw edges and are particularly well suited to sheer and lightweight fabrics. Also, they are a nice option for those who don’t have sergers/overlockers and want a nice professional finish. Once you try them you’ll honestly find tonnes of situations in which they are incredibly useful.

Here’s how to sew a lovely french seam:

I’ve used a fabric with a digital print, so it’s easier to see which is the right side and which is the wrong side.

Instead of placing your fabric pieces with the right sides together, place them with the wrong sides together (ie right sides facing outwards)

Make sure the side seam edges are lined up correctly.

Sew 3/8″ from the raw edge.

*Please note that other measurements for french seams may be used, but this is the way I do them – mostly a personal preference so that I don’t have to change seam allowances on patterns – ie your total seam allowance will still be the standard 5/8″ after using my method*

Then grade (trim) the seam allowance back to a scant 1/8″.

Open your seam out and press the seam flat.

Now fold along the seamline so that the right sides of the fabric are now facing each other, and the raw edges of the seam are enclosed.

Sew 1/4″ from the folded edge, encasing the raw edges and finishing your seam.

Press your seams flat, and admire your pretty, pretty french seams!

About Author

Meg is the Founder and Creative Director of Megan Nielsen Patterns, and is constantly dreaming up ideas for new sewing patterns and ways to make your sewing journey more enjoyable! She gets really excited about design details and is always trying to add way too many variations to our patterns.

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11 years ago

Love this tutorial – so helpful!! Thanks for being so generous with your time and putting it together!

11 years ago

Language is such a strange thing. It’s called French seam in English but it’s called English seam in Dutch :)

11 years ago

Thank you for this tutorial- I have never bothered to try to learn how to do French seams because it sounded too difficult but now I see that it’s really simple. Will definitely be trying this sometime in the future.

Blogless Anna
11 years ago

Oh how I love a french seam. I’m made some simple tops and a dress recently where it seemed easier to french seam than change the thread in my overlocker! It’s also good to note that you can do french seams on curves too.

11 years ago

I love using french seams, I think they look much nicer and more professional than a serged seam. I have been using them on all my lightweight summer projects, thanks for sharing Megan :-)

11 years ago

Thanks for posting this tutorial! You make it look so easy :)

Love to DIY
11 years ago

Very easy to follow tutorial! Thanks for sharing. I agree with Katie above, you really make it look so easy! :)



[…] detailed tutorial on french seams. So I’m going to keep this short and sweet. Head on over to her post for a more detailed […]


[…] To make this pattern extra pretty for sheer fabrics, the instructions in the booklet show you how to do french seams. But sometimes photos are even better right? This tutorial will show you how to get perfect french seams every time: How to sew french seams […]


[…] kind of seam. I had no trouble with this new-fangled finish method (luckily). Megan Nielsen’s tutorial was very helpful and easy to follow, and I’m glad I happened upon it over the […]

10 years ago

Thank you so much for this tutorial! You just improved all of my future sewing projects.

Elizabeth Vervaeke
Elizabeth Vervaeke
3 years ago

Using a sheer drapey rayon and would like to use french seams because the material is easily frayed. The serger has not done a very nice job of of finishing edges likely because the fabric is too slippery. Would you french seam the inset sleeves or should I set in the sleeves first before seaming the entire side and arm seam?
By the way, really looking forward to sewing the Reef now that the Canadian season is moving to warmer temps!

Michelle Elser
Michelle Elser
3 years ago

Would this French seam work for a wool trouser seam finish? I don’t have a serger, so I’m trying to find the best way.