Gettin Fancy with French Seams

By Miah Gruber

I believe it was in a Martha Stewart magazine where I first read the age old adage “a finished garment should look as good on the inside as it does on the outside. I laughed, rolled my eyes and continued to sew inside my comfort zone. 

“What’s the point of a neat looking inside? No one’s going to see it!”

It’s funny just how much my opinions have changed! And I owe that in large part to my time spent sewing for theater. 

My resident Costume studio where I worked as a seamstress, was given the project of sewing up 18 white silk chiffon jackets. 

If you’ve ever worked with silk you know that it unravels horribly. and  silk chiffon is so weightless and wiggily all you have to do is look at it to send it flying in the air causing it to unravel more.

The Costume designer and I sewed the first two without a french seam, and they had to be treated so gingerly until we bound the seams with bias cut strips of the self fabric. Honest to goodness I thought that the garment was going to fall apart in my hands.  

And once we did sew on the bias cut fabric onto the seams, they were so bulky! The chiffon would fly, but the weight of the seams would actually affect the flight pattern of the jackets.

Think about it, a untreated seam has two layers of fabric. A bias tape treated seam has six, the seam, the outside of the bias tape

 Nit picky I know, but it drove the designer and I mad. and to be fair these jackets were GORGEOUS already. But the 16 that we put together with french seams floated like nothing I’ve ever seen. And we saved time, because Frencing a seam is much faster than cutting out scads of bias strips.  Not to mention, it will save you precious amounts of fabric. 

Now you might be thinking 

“That’s great, but I’m just sewing garments from home. I don’t need to use a method like this.”

You would be wrong. 

You don’t know it yet but you NEED french seams in your life. 

Just look at the inside of this garment I sewed in highschool. 

Do you see how the edges there are just kind of YUCK and it had only been around one year of wearing and washing before I grew out of it.

Now here’s a second garment that I made around a year ago and have worn and washed quite a bit.

See how the seams still look brand new?

Are you drooling yet? 

If so I’ve put together a little video tutorial for you on the method or french seams, as well as how to do a french seam when you have a pocket, or an extreme curve!

In conclusion, there’s no need at all to be intimidated by high-end or historic methods when home sewing. You might not get things right the first time, but eventually you’ll get the hang of anything if you keep at it. 

So until next time, keep experimenting friends!

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